Date: 1 June. It’s summer y’all.
Location: heaven, Barton’s Creek Greenbelt, Austin, Texas.
Notable sightings: University of Texas, great tacos from Torchy’s Tacos.
My lack of cowboy boots was becoming an issue so, before we left Houston, the girls dropped me at the Cavender’s, the place for boots (and Stetsons, and chaps, and belt buckles). There, a gentleman named Buck helped me choose just the right boots for me — though he was fairly concerned about my response to his initial question: “M’am, will these boots be for workin’ or dancin’?” My answer: “Um, just for wearin’.” I walked out with a beautiful pair of Abilenes and it’s true wild western love.
The boots were christened last night – with panache – on the dance floor at Rowdy’s, Austin, Texas. A pair of actual cowboys there told us that the place wasn’t a ‘real’ honkytonk, that its neon signs were just for show and that the lack of a pool table and boot shining station were fatal. Fake status or not, it had a mechanical bull and an honest to god dance floor and we loved it.
Now the boys down in Texas, they like to dance. For that, they need partners. In Melbourne, a boy would rather hack off his own own with a rusty spoon than actually ask a girl to dance other than as a joke or at high school dancing class. In Texas, it’s just good manners. Which is of course somewhat problematic for you if your idea of dancing is mass bopping to Katy Perry or flamboyant twirling with a boy to Lana del Ray. Thankfully, the Texan boys were happy enough to teach us and, again thankfully, a girl’s role in a two step seems to be to relax, not think and simply do as she’s told. I can ignore any sexist undertones in that as it’s just way too much fun to be lead backwards and spun around a dance floor to Luke Bryan’s latest. We’re now all three capable (though, a distance from competent, and miles from confident), two-steppers and quick-steppers. I can even Pretzel.
One gentleman proudly told me that you can country dance to any song at all, then proved it with me when Katy Perry’s Dark Horse came on. Huh, colour me impressed,
Our Austin motel was a few miles away from the bar, just a bt too far to walk, so Bunky had offered to drive. This turned out to be a mistake as, without a cheerful energy boost from Fireball or some friendly, encouraging vodka, she tired around 1.30am — just as the dance floor was really heating up, Rowdy’s was starting to live up to its name and I was managing to exit 90% of my spins without missing a step — and we went home.
Travelling with old friends is a very different experience to organised group travel, where you make a whole team of shiny, new, tentative friends all on best behaviour. It’s good travelling with old friends because you don’t feel the need to be on all the time, to be chatty, friendly, especially tolerant or polite. It’s bad because your travel pals don’t feel the need to be chatty, friendly or especially tolerant or polite. Bunky and Tassels are sisters and longtime housemates and, naturally enough, very set in their ways. While in most aspects they’re wonderful travel companions, it can be hard for me to have my suggestions taken seriously, especially if it’s not how they do it at home. For example, they like to have the exact same thing for lunch every day (salad and tuna wrap, and it is indeed tasty) so the idea that we might grab lunch at a catfish shack on the Louisianan highway or try the classic diner on the corner in Houston is always met with unwavering disdain, which disappoints me enormously. But travel is always, always about compromise so I’m compromising.
Today, with the luxury of a full day in Austin, we drove down to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, via Walmart to stock up on picnic supplies. The Greenbelt is seven mile long stretch of parkland just south of downtown that boasts a twisted network of unmarked paths and a winding creek. Apparently, it’s usually a great place to walk the dog or bring a date. Today, with the heaving lashing of rain that Texas has had, it’s still a great place to walk the dog or bring a date — but with beers and your bathers as there simply could not be a nicer place to have a drink than between the bubbling mini waterfalls that have formed all the way down the rocky creek.
Update: The only thing that marred an otherwise perfect day was one communications mishap. We’d walked a half hour through the shrub to find our dream swimming spot and, once there, Bunky and Tassels decided to go for a jog and collect our picnic food from the car on the way back. I settled in to write this, with my toes in the water and face to the sun. By the time I looked up it was an hour later and there was no sign of them. I checked my phone: no reception. Not ideal. I gave it a half hour before I panicked. Still no sign of them. Then I panicked, imagining progressively more dire situations: they’d lost me on their run (but would keep looking for me); one of them had been bitten by a snake and they’d gone to hospital (but they’d come back for me), they’d both fallen off a cliff (and I would die out here). Should I stay put? Scramble back to the car? In the end, over two hours later, the answer was far less dramatic than anything I’d concoted. They’d arrived back at the car, figured we’d all need waterwalker shoes for the creek exploring we’d do that afternoon, driven to Walmart, and then gotten totally, totally lost. It will be a funnier story when my radical sunburn heals up.
Tomorrow, my cowboy boots are getting their first big adventure: Nashville!