Me and Karson (my boyfriend) went on an adventure to Austin and San Marcos over the weekend. A jiu jitsu “business trip,” of sorts. Surprisingly enough, as a 20 year old person who has lived a school year away from home, I’ve never actually gone on a trip without my parents… and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
We left for Austin at around 1 o’clock on Friday. I packed a generous supply of vegan snacks for the road… the Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Squares were Karson’s favorite. Cheez-Its without the guilt. My personal favorite was the Trader Joe’s New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings. Those were demolished by the time we left Austin for San Marcos. Among these things, a bundle of bananas, three vegan protein bars, and some brown “rice krispie treats” courtesy of my mom. Karson bought two gallon jugs of water before we hit the road, and we were completely content for the 3+ hour drive.
It kind of felt like the shortest road trip I’d ever been on, actually… I’ve grown very fond of the Texas countryside. Driving through miles and miles of agricultural land was beautiful and a not-so-subtle reminder of why I chose to go vegan at the beginning of the year. How much better it would be to utilize this land for the direct benefit of all the life here, not just the humans. It occurred to me that all cattle should be as free as they are in Texas… and so much of the “abundance” that is grown here just cycles into feed for slaughter. That will change. Sooner than later.
There is not a lot that compares to lying on a hotel bed, staring at the ceiling, after a road trip. To catch that feeling in a bottle. It has been years since I’ve visited the capital, and after living in Portland, Maine freshman year, the Austinites all just looked like summertime Mainers to me. But Texas, as always, was green. I was surprised at the amount of street art, but way more surprised by the amount of skateboards, somehow… and dyed hair. A college kid is a college kid is a college kid, I guess. Art school wasn’t as otherworldly as I thought it was. We met up with Karson’s sister at Spider House, a local commonplace splashed with color and drenched in lights. I can’t remember the name of the food truck that our generously sized falafel wraps came from, but they were delicious. Seeing Vegan! on almost all the truck menus in the area was exciting for my eyes and my stomach. (Karson is a bottomless pit and the large size wrap actually satiated him. The regular was more than enough for me.) Thank you Kassidy, for the perfect recommendation.
The next morning, our hotel’s pathetic attempt at a “free breakfast” drove us to eat out at Mother’s Cafe & Garden. We got there right at opening, and still weren’t the first seated. But it was absolutely worth the frustration with our hotel. The menu is loaded with things like tofu scrambles, plant-based baked goods, and even an impressive wine list. That wasn’t exactly our prerogative, though. I ordered a tofu scramble with a banana walnut pancake on the side, and Karson opted for the vegan breakfast tacos. I can safely say that pancake hit the sweets sweet spot… although the dessert menu made me eager to come back another tournament weekend. The venue was calm and quiet at the early hour, with live plants and local art scattered around the “garden” room. We will be going there again!
Those three giant tacos got Karson through his tournament without single grumble from his stomach. We left for San Marcos as soon as his division was finished. The drive was somewhere around an hour and a half, and I took in more of the hill country scenery. The fact that my apparently Houston-centric allergies had completely dissipated was a pleasant side effect. I’ll be talking to my allergist about that. But, two tubes and sunscreen in hand, we went with friends to float along part of the river. Somehow no one has told me that it stays at an icy 70° year-round. Or that there are patches of wild rice plants strewn throughout the stream. As alien as it ended up being, I absolutely loved swimming around in the moving water. It is without a doubt my element (and it was apparent that I was the only water sign there). Karson wasn’t as crazy about phantom plant limbs reaching out and grabbing him, though. It sounds like the start of a pretty good joke, actually… a Virgo, a Leo, a Scorpio and a Libra take a dip in the river, who is the most scared of the water? The Scorpio enjoyed her time as a river nymph although it was brief. We spent the night at a friend’s.
After some of the best oatmeal I’d ever had, courtesy of our generous host and friend Ale, we made way for home. (Hemp and chia seeds, kiwi, banana and agave nectar make an oatmeal far superior to any continental breakfast we missed out on.) The drive straight from San Marcos to Houston was especially scenic. The Spring sun hit vast fields of corn and turned their leaves chartreuse, and the hole shot roads twisted up and down with the contours of the hills. Among the highlights were huge orange longhorns, highway medians speckled with a thousand wild blooms, a couple of donkeys, two lots of goats, and a stubborn-looking auburn pony. The drive back went by even faster than the drive out…which is usually the opposite. But I’m not complaining. Keep in mind, though, that once you’re outside the zone where The Buzz reaches, you might as well turn off the radio.
For the next trip, I will without a doubt be taking more pictures… and figuring out how I can avoid the dreaded skin flare-up that happens whenever I travel. If I crack that code, I’ll let you know. It’s a shame that I didn’t snap any pictures of the eccentricities of Austin, but, next time will be different. Maybe me and Karson will get a cute picture in front of that famous green wall. We’ll see!