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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Keepin' Austin Weird

The Texas State Capitol at night
I arrived back from my trip to Austin yesterday at 2pm, JUST IN TIME FOR PROM PREP, but more about the prom in my next blog entry. First, Austin.

I flew out on Monday morning in the middle of a late spring Nor'easter, which brought snow and sleet to the Rochester area (and the East Coast) starting late Sunday night. Just my traveling luck: It's 80 degrees for most of the month of March and when I need to fly, there is a late spring snowstorm. Anyway, I was surprised that my flight was going out on time (6am!) and hopeful we would not be affected by the adverse weather conditions. Not so fast. The plane taxied out then spent an hour
Only in Texas
on the runway getting deiced. An hour? Really? Unbelievable. l. I was concerned I would miss my 8:30am connection to Austin from Dulles. So, when we landed and I was able to break free from the crowd I was on my way, trying to hustle through the crowds to get to the gate (which seemed to be a very long distance away) and arrived huffin'-and-puffin' at 8:30 on the dot. I was greeted with a crowd, just mulling around. "Is this the flight to Austin?" I asked. "Yes," replied a bystander, "but there is a mechanical problem with the plane so we're delayed." DANG, foiled again! (The really cool thing about landing at Dulles was that I was able to see both space shuttles piggy-backing on their 747s. What a sight!)

Austin at night
Three hours later we were on our way to Austin, and arrived around 2pm. After a quick trip from the airport, it was off to meet my pal, Kristen, and her husband, Ken, for some fun before our Tuesday meeting. Little by little my friends trickled in, and we explored the city. The hotel, a Hilton, was located very centrally to to a lot of the Austin action, including Sixth Street, which features tons of restaurants and bars/music venues, and Congress Street, another great area for restaurants and shopping, and featuring the (in)famous Congress Street Bat BridgeOn Tuesday, I spent the entire day in my meeting and did not have a chance to step outside until around 5pm (hot and humid!). 


Getting ready for the photo booth
For our board dinner we went to a delicious seafood restaurant called "Trulucks" and had amazing stone crab claws as an appetizer. I chose a delicious sea bass as my entree, and it was done just right - delish!!! On Wednesday morning I spent time wandering around before my 3pm meeting kicked off the conference. I was in search of a good bagel for
Kittie Pain won the armadillo race!
breakfast and hit approximately six cafes before I found one that had halfway decent looking bagels. It's a good thing I ate before I went to the restroom because in there I was met by a cockroach the size of my thumb. Y-U-C-K. I know it's Texas and all, but do they have to be that big? After breakfast I did a bit more exploring in search of some cool t-shirts to bring home. Around 1pm I headed back to the hotel to freshen up before my meeting and then I was off and running!

Say hello to my little friend
The conference was great, and a really fun thing the group did was the Thursday night social at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum  which had a cute little theatre in which they alternated two 1/2 hour movies "The Star of Destiny" and "Wild Texas Weather." Both were very cool!! We had a specially designed margarita for the occasion to celebrate NAGAP's 25th anniversary which had jalapeno juice and cilantro mixed in, and BOY WAS THAT GOOD (I had two...). Also very fun were the armadillo races outside the theatre. Those Texans sure know how to have a good time!

The feast to behold! Right on the
table, no plates, no utensils
 On Friday night I made an announcement to the group to meetin the hotel lobby at 7:30pm for anyone interested in seeing the bats in flight at dusk from the Congress Street Bridge, which was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel. So, a group of us headed over with very high hopes to see some bats, even though we had been told that the bats had not gone out "early" for the last three nights or so. It was a real carnival atmosphere by the time we got there, but, alas we stayed until 9:30pm and only saw a fluttering of activity.

The bats were probably watching us from the bridge and decided to wait until we had all left...I don't know. (They were probably thinking: Damn tourists!) So that particular pursuit will have to remain on my bucket list for now. Others, however, have been more lucky so here's a glimpse of the bats departing from the bridge. Doesn't it look crazy?!


Austin was a great city! I can see why people like it so much! [Did I mention it was over 90 degrees and sunny all week?!!]

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