In addition to our experience at the ACL festival last week, we also had lots of time to just enjoy the city of Austin while in Texas. We did A LOT of walking in the city, visited the State Capitol grounds and the Texas State History Museum, ate some great food, and window-shopped (for the most part – I did splurge on some sweet cowboy boots, though. Seriously…they’re bad ass.)
For one of the non-festival days we rented a car…well, it was actually a pick-up truck (we wanted to fit in)…and it was probably my favorite day of the whole trip. We took a long drive out to the Texas countryside. Honestly, it was so awesome to see wide open space for the first time in a few years. Just dirt and grass, trees, maybe a couple cacti and a bale of hay here and there. There were acres and acres of ranches covering miles of Texas Hill Country, each of which were marked on the main road by a gate. Some of them were simple and others elaborate – perhaps a sign of status and a good indicator of how many cows, chickens and things could be found behind them.
Our first stop outside Austin was the small city of Fredericksburg. I could have spent days in this town with all of the unique shops and restaurants. They had some of the coolest furniture! We may not have purchased a couch or a kitchen table, but we did pick up a Christmas ornament – a wagon wheel with Christmas lights wrapped around the spokes. At the time of purchase, I didn’t notice that it was actually Made in China. How authentic.
So, after grabbing lunch at the local brewery, we headed out to the Enchanted Rock National Park. The park has tons of trails, but we focused on taking a quick trip up to the top of the HUGE chunk of granite rock. There were some awesome views. We didn’t stay too long because, as we were applying sunscreen in the parking lot, the song “Luckenbach Texas” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson came on the radio. Luckenbach, made famous by Willie and Waylon’s song, was the next and final stop on our trip outside of Austin. We took the song playing on the radio as a sign – there were great things waiting for us in Luckenbach. We hurried through the hike, hopped in the car and were on our way.
Visiting this tiny Texas town was an experience we’ll never forget. With a downtown that consists of a post office from the 1800’s (now converted into a gift shop and a small bar), a bathroom shack, dance hall, outdoor stage and a storage building, I think there were a higher population of chickens and roosters in this town than actual people.
Both the people and the chickens were great company.
Initially, we planned on being there for an hour or so, but ended up staying for 3 or 4, sitting around a wooden wheel chatting with some locals and Lukenbach bar regulars, listening to some guitar strumming, and, of course, to throw back a few beers.
It was pretty much pitch black once we got back on the road and, surprisingly, we found our way back to Austin after an hour and a half of driving through unlit roads in the middle of Texas. Good times. Good times.