As i’ve said before, I don’t know how to handle time off very well. I’ve had a nearly full time job or more since I was 16 and in all that time vacation just wasn’t a thing. I think the sentiment is best summed up by something an old co worker said to me while I was on this trip. ‘Summer huh? What’s that like, having more than two days off?” And then we all laughed bitterly. As a result of my inability to just chill out and not make money i’m once again teaching summer school. I had exactly one week in between school and summer school and I wasn’t going to waste it, I needed something to separate the two work chunks in my brain and make it feel like an actual vacation. I also desperately missed my friends. So off to Austin I went! Mando took the dogs with him to visit his family in Laredo for the week giving me absolutely no responsibilities and it was great. I would be spending Tuesday through Thursday with Taryn and Jason in their awesomely located South Congress apartment. Seriously it’s a 5 minute walk away from Hopdoddy. That alone makes it awesome. While I was there I also was determined to eat everything in the world that I missed. Obviously burgers and fries from Hopdoddy, Pizza from Conan’s, BBQ from Salt Lick. I was determined to eat myself across Austin and I did! Success! Obviously the first stop was Hopdoddy. In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s THE BEST burger place around if you’re looking for something that’s not super greasy. If you’re looking for a grease ball please go to Hilbert’s Hamburgers. They’re mostly on the North Side. Hopdoddy on the other hand has a wall that tells you which farms their ingredients come from. They’re super fresh, even the buns are baked in house. Not only is that all awesome but they’re also freaking delicious. Taryn and I went all out getting our burgers (coincidentally she got an Ahi tuna burger and I got a chicken burger. Whoops!) chili con queso fries, and milkshakes (peach cobbler)! I was so freaking full. We straight chilled for the rest of the day after that. I was so happy to be with Taryn again, I missed her so freaking much. I’m glad Austin isn’t terribly far so trips like this could happen. Wednesday was filled with brunch with Cecilia at South Congress Cafe and their delicious Crab Cakes Benedict (I dream about that brunch), macarons at La Patisserie, and hanging out setting up this here blog. Jason works for WPEngine so he got me hosting and set up a domain for me which i’m loving by the way. I’m really glad that I finally own this domain, I never knew it was so easy! We spent a lot of the afternoon like this. Sitting on the futon, watching cake boss, doing nerd stuff. It was ridiculously fun.
Later that evening we had plans with Paulomi and Max to get some Conan’s Pizza which has THE BEST deep dish pizza ever. Their crust is so freaking amazing I could die. We went to the Conan’s up north more rather than the OG campus location and I must say I really like this place too. I was afraid it wouldn’t have the same “90s metal head’s basement” feel to it, but it did! Also bonus: this location is next to both Dragon’s Lair and a froyo shop. So we went to both of those places.
The pizza was great, meeting Max was also great, he’s a nice dude and i’m glad Paulomi has him. Visiting Dragon’s Lair was also great. I was on a mission for Rat Queens and Lumberjanes but unfortunately they only had issues 1 and 3 of Lumberjanes and when I asked if they had the second issue the guy just kept asking me if it was a children’s comic. He also had no idea what Rat Queens was. I mean I chalk this up to it being more of a game store than a comics store because only 1/4 of the store is comics, but it still made me feel uncomfortable when I was trying very hard to be cool and confident and not seem wildly out of place. Froyo was totally awesome though, even if they only had one flavor of the fruit boba which is basically why I get froyo.
This brings us to Thursday! I spent a lot of Thursday early afternoon driving around doing ‘me’ stuff while Taryn and Jason slept in and got ready. I went to visit my Home Depot buddies who I miss to extreme amounts. It was so good visiting them and catching up. It’s been 2 years since I had to quit so I could start teaching but I still refer to Home Depot as “we”, I don’t think that will ever go away and frankly I don’t want it to. I am loyal to that place until I die. Down with Lowes! I also went to see Julie at work before driving over to Austin Books and Comics where I FINALLY found Rat Queens and Issue #2 of Lumberjanes! Not only did I find them but the lady working there was so helpful and nice and encouraging and wonderful. Oh gosh I can’t say enough good things about ABC. I lived next to it for a year and I really didn’t frequent it as much as I should have. I may have felt more comfortable there simply because I knew that there are a few Valkyries working there and Kate Leth has been there and that the shop overall has that ‘welcoming’ thing going on. Whatever it was I was super happy with my experience and how damn nice the three salespeople were. They even tried to direct me to good shops in Katy. We all admitted though that i’d probably have to order Rat Queens in Katy if I wanted it because it’s not something they’d stock normally.
I then rejoined my hosts, we went to Hopdoddy again because i’m a glutton and also because I really wanted a burger! I accidentally got the chicken burger the first time and I was determined to get my actual burger, my actual medium rare burger. Hopdoddy is the only place I know of right now that actually will cook you a medium rare, or even rare, burger. It’s delicious. Add medium rare/bloody meat to the list of things I hated as a child and now love as an adult.
Then it was time for Casey’s New Orleans Sno Balls. OH MY GOD I MISS THIS PLACE EVERY DAY IT’S OVER 100 DEGREES OUT. I’m sorry to yell but y’all don’t understand. I hate regular snow cones now with their chunky ice. This stuff is obviously superior. I never thought i’d have strong opinions about shaved ice but Casey’s changed me. It’s a little yellow hut on 51st and Airport, it’s cash only, and it’s amazing. Most days you’ll see a line wrapping around the building because it is so worth the wait. I passed it every day to and from work and I got sno balls from there more times than I could count. I can’t recommend this place enough. If you couldn’t tell I love it a lot. We then went to hang out with Taylor at Epoch Coffee which is another place I miss. I miss my neighborhood so much.
Then. It was finally time. SALT LICK! Cecilia met us at the apartment and off we went. I was seriously shocked at all the new neighborhoods that have popped up back there. It’s no longer just an empty stretch of road and then BAM! Meat! It’s now a road filled with McMansions. Weird. It was also a super freaking nice night too, there was a breeze, the humidity was almost non-existent and man I miss that. We all got family style and gorged.
After Salt Lick I left to go back home, staying just ahead of a massive storm the entire way. My entire drive was lit up with huge lightening strikes, scary but also pretty.
I had such a great time getting to see everyone and eat all the food I could think of. It was definitely a much needed vacation, the perfect thing to break up school times and get me ready for summer. Hopefully we’ll be back at some point this summer for a camping trip but until then, this trip will definitely tide me over.
Until next time, Meagan