New Year’s Day morning we woke from a wonderful night of sleep, and I found myself wishing I could have taken that bed with me! It’s like I said before, this Hampton Inn was the nicest place we’d stayed so far.
We ate breakfast in the hotel lobby, and made a quick stop at a Starbucks and a gas station before heading out for the day. Our next destination was New Braunfels, TX, just 16 miles up the road.
New Braunfels is a lovely, historic German town, located in the heart of Hill Country. Even though our timing could have been better for a visit as there was not one place open on New Year’s Day, we still managed to enjoy a few hours meandering about. The historic downtown area has beautiful old buildings, including at least one dating back to 1845; the year the city was founded.
We were surprised to watch deer crossing the residential streets of town, but when groupings of them were lounging in people’s yards, it was apparent they were likely a big (though beautiful) nuisance.
Our favorite stop in New Braunfels, however, was Landa Park. It would have been an excellent time to have a loaf of bread in the car because there were plenty of willing takers on the river. I won’t pretend to know the different bird species we encountered there, but I do know there were ducks, geese, swans, and scores of black vultures.
The package of crackers we had in our car didn’t last very long, but it certainly did gain us a whole flock of new friends.
By the time we left, I realized (a little too late) that I had taken an undesirable memento with me. Bird droppings! That unpleasant mess was stuck in the small tread of my boots! It didn’t seem to matter how many puddles I (literally) jumped in or danced upon, or how much grass I skidded through, it was really stuck in there. All I could do was change my shoes, and try to knock the “you-know-what” out of them later when they dried.
We headed north towards Austin, and came upon the very large mall, Tanger Outlets, in San Marcos, TX. Knowing I love to shop, and having an agenda of his own, Chris pulled in.
Chris had the idea shortly before our trip that he would like to give me a platinum anniversary band; platinum for the twenty years of marriage, and a band that I could wear anywhere, including work. He had put some thought into this – even I didn’t know that 20 years was platinum! And I had no idea it bothered him that I didn’t wear my wedding ring to work. It’s just not practical to wear jewelry, especially anything that will snag, when working in a hospital. I’ve always got my hands in water, or I’m hurriedly pulling off gloves; the last thing I need to worry about is sifting through the trash looking for my wedding ring.
We discovered, rather quickly, that platinum rings are not only quite pricey, but also not that easy to find. I would expect the price is the reason they don’t sell a lot, and therefore, jewelry stores don’t keep them in stock. Just a plain little band with no diamonds, and no detail whatsoever was in the $600-900 range. It was beginning to seem impractical to keep looking, and though I loved the idea he came up with, I asked if we could rethink the platinum.
We found a dainty little rose gold band with s small string of diamonds (more like little crumbs), that fit perfectly on my finger, and to my needs. Worn by itself, it puts off a perfect little line of sparkle, and it fits just right so it won’t slip off at work. Needless to say, I’m very happy with my anniversary ring!
After a bit of lunch at Cracker Barrel, we traveled further north until we reached Austin. I booked us a room at the Hampton Inn, located by the airport. We had no trouble finding the place, and were settled right away. Our destination for the evening was the infamous 6th Street in historic downtown Austin.
Finding 6th Street was simple enough, but the neighborhoods surrounding it appeared a bit sketchy. We parked our car on 5th Street, and right away we were approached by a homeless woman. She was very polite, and there wasn’t much doubt she was living in the streets. Chris gave her the dollar she asked if he could spare, and we were on our way.
Historic 6th Street was certainly unlike anywhere we’d been before. It draws an eclectic crowd, and literally, anything goes! Musicians of every genre line the streets, and the bars. Apparently so do the homeless, the beggars, and the police; all of which we saw many. Had we been in a group of 6 or 8 people, our experience probably would have been more of fun, and less intimidating; we just felt so out-of-place. In fact, we walked up one side of the street, and back down the other for the seven blocks it encompasses, at least twice, before finding the courage to step into just one bar. When we did finally take the dive, we chose The Dizzy Rooster.
A small country band was performing, and the bar was lined elbow-to-elbow. Chris went for drinks, while I grabbed the first table that opened up. While he was waiting on drinks, some intoxicated lady at the bar pulled up her top and flashed the band. Next she turned to the bartender, and then to Chris, flashing them too. Chris just smiled and said, “Ah, thank you,” and turned away. He was a little flushed when he returned, I wonder why?! He then went on to tell me that the bartender wasn’t taking anyone’s money; apparently too blown-away-drunk to care. Chris threw down $6 on the bar, and so did a few others, but it likely wasn’t a real money-maker of a night.
We finished our drinks and quickly exited The Dizzy Rooster. We came upon The Iron Cactus, a nice Mexican restaurant on 6th Street. We were seated on the Rooftop Patio, where we enjoyed some drinks while we waited for our food. I ordered my usual chimichanga-style fair, but Chris ordered the Stuffed Iron Burger, and evidently didn’t read the description that said, “Texas custom blended beef, roasted jalapeños, natural cheddar, cilantro aioli, house fries.” He took one bite into that bad boy and was sweating bullets! His face turned red, he guzzled his (and my) water down, and quickly looked underneath that bun to find the culprit. Chris never purposely orders anything with jalapeños, so you can imagine his tolerance, or lack thereof. He pulled off as many of those green devils as he could, and still managed to finish the rest of that burger.
We made one more round through 6th Street, and agreed it was time to head out. The evening had held enough excitement for us. We made it back to our car, but not before being cornered by yet another beggar. Chris gave him a dollar, and we quickly got out of there.
The hotel atmosphere seemed a much safer place to be; at least nobody was hitting us up for cash. It wasn’t quite as nice as the other Hampton Inns we’ve stayed at, but I can say I’ve certainly stayed in worse. There was an annoying air leak in the window that caused a whistle. The bed was a little “broken;” apparently housekeeping doesn’t check those things when they clean the room. Then, being in close proximity to the airport, there was the frequent noise of jets flying over. Funny I didn’t think of this when I requested a room on the top floor!
Meanwhile back at the ranch in OK, my sister Lori, her husband FD, and our kids Emily and Sid, spent the evening in front of a cozy fire down in the canyon. They roasted weenies and marshmallows, and made delicious S’mores. It was so nice to get a daily update on the fun they were having, and knowing the kids were in such good hands.
~Check back for Day 6 of: The Second Honeymoon