This is our last day in Austin. It's been a nice vacation for me.
Mrs Elliott conference was over yesterday at 5:50 pm, and she got most of her booth packed before I showed up to help, not that she said she needed me to help. But I showed up in time to help with the final bits and help move the boxes the two blocks from the Hilton to our room at the Marriott. I was bearing a red rose for her when I arrived at her booth.
"Oh, that's so sweet! You brought me a red rose. It's so pretty! Why did you buy me a rose?"
I explained that I bought her the flower because I love her.
"But honey, roses fade so fast. You didn't have to do that!"
Yeah, I did. She had told me that I didn't even need to show up at the booth to help her pack up. She was going to let me lounge about while she worked. That deserves a rose. Plus, the guy selling the roses was missing his left leg.
After humping the boxes over to the Marriott, we wandered out for dinner, to an area of restaurants and shops at 4th and Colorado, a few blocks away from the 6th Street drink-and-purge establishments near the hotels.
In San Luis Obispo is a narrow alleyway, the walls of which are encrusted with blobs of dried chewing gum. It's the recommended place to discard one's gum. It's famous.
Along 6th in Austin one finds an amazing amount of dried gum barnacled into the pavement. Mix in splashes of dried vomit and the sidewalks resemble nothing so much as a fucking Jackson Pollock painting.
I found the Ginger Man Pub after dinner last night. They have an awe-inspiring 70+ beers, ales, and lambics on tap. It was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. But in truth, I wasn't very interested in getting buzzed, so I just had a pint -- a real 16 oz pint, I want to point out -- of a very nice Scottish bitter.
While the PNW is totally into hoppy ales and IPAs, Bocks and Hefeweisens are popular here. They are too sweet or yeasty for me. Lagers are also popular here, maybe because of the heat. Of course I'm always looking for dry stouts, but all of the stouts at The Ginger Man were of the chocolate/molasses sweet variety which disappointed me. Bend Brewing Company is the only US micro or craft brewery I've found so far that has made a genuinely dry stout.
So that's my report on the local beers. A paltry thing, I admit. Lack of inspiration and of really intriguing beers held me back.
Mrs Elliott is very acquisitive. As usual, her luggage is packed with every bit of complimentary schwag she lays her hands on, as well as trinkets and t-shirts and snowglobes from the local souvenier shops. She's never seen a bit of treen, knick-knack, tchotke, or trinket that didn't intrigue her. It's just crap, but she loves gathering lots of little gifts she can later give away, in gift baskets or as stocking-stuffers.
We're in Seattle now, with a 3-hour layover. A box of supplies Mrs Elliott took to the show had been packed carefully in Bend so as not to exceed the 50-lb limit. When we loaded that box on the scale at Austin airport, it came in 57 lbs.
Mrs Elliott seemed surprised. "It was 49 pounds when we weighed it! How did it get so much heavier?"
"You packed in eight pounds of crap."
She paid the $35 overweight fee. But she was none to happy about it.
Austin International Airport security: slow but officious.
I was seated next to a fellow a few years older than I. He does not like flying one bit, but was flying to Juneau, Alaska. He takes that trip every summer because after retiring he applied for a job as summer general manager for the only hotel in Hanes, north of Juneau. Works there for four months out of the year. His wife joins him for six weeks of those four months. Gets them out of the Texas summer heat, he explained.
Guy's a ham radio operator. Ships his rig ahead of him. From Hanes he has talked to Antarctica on the 20 meter band.
Living the life, if you ask me.
This is the end of my report about our exciting trip to Austin, Texas. "Keep Austin Weird" is the city's unofficial motto. By west coast standards, Austin is probably not very weird. By Texas standards, they probably are. That's gotta count for something.