Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bachelorette Party: Austin, Texas

So we went to AUSTIN, TEXAS to celebrate my last remaining days as an unmarried woman.  Why Texas you may ask?  Well, any further south and you might get zika, there's still lots of Spanish, it's warm, there's tex mex, great music AND it's WEIRD!  Austin lived up to all expectations and my friends who were able to come made it so incredibly special, hilarious and AMAZING.

Erin, my matron of honor, was captain of organizing the trip.  We left Tuesday April 4, a few days before the rest of the crew could come.  Her cousin, Logan, lives in Austin, so we bunked with him for a couple of nights to do some sight seeing.  Erin's family is pretty much my family too!

We landed in Austin and Logan was there to pick us up.  He has a great rooftop hang-out area at his place where he is growing a papaya tree...sweet! 

Then we went out to a great little taco place with great beer and AWESOME tacos.  It was so chill with picnic tables amongst huge live oak trees and soft lights hung up above.  CHEERS!

The next day Erin and I ventured to a café near the Colorado River to get some coffee and breakfast, then we headed to San Antonio to check out the legendary Alamo.  Now, I have been to San Antonio back in college when I spent spring break working with Habitat for Humanity.  I LOVED San Antonio, but didn't really visit the Alamo since it's located in the middle of the city with shopping malls around it.  We saw it after eating at a restaurant and thought, oh, there's the Alamo, let's get a picture and keep walking.  Well, I was a young fool then.  If you go to San Antonio, definitely GO INTO THE ALAMO; it is an amazing piece of history and I learned so much.  The first thing I learned is that we didn't win at the Alamo.

Yes, I admit, I thought we won at the Alamo.  Why else would people say, "Remember the Alamo" as a battle cry?  Remember those few people who defended the Alamo and WON?  Well, I was way wrong.  It's more like, "let's RALLY because those few people who had no chance of winning at the Alamo held it for as long as they could because they defied the wrongdoing of Santa Ana."  At least I have that piece of history correct now.

After a lovely visit to the Alamo, Erin and I continued on to the famed Riverwalk.  As soon as we stepped foot on the Riverwalk, we realized you can stroll with an open container, so we immediately ordered margaritas.

The Riverwalk is so cool; you walk along the beautiful San Antonio River that is lined with restaurants and bars.  Waterfalls stream out from different places, there are beautiful plants and flowers, and the walkway is stone and just leads you along a peaceful and fun path.  We followed it to lunch at the Iron Cactus and then to a little market that sold pottery, clothing, and art.

After the Riverwalk, Erin and I headed back to Austin to meet back up with Logan and his girlfriend Hannah.  That night we went to another food truck picnic area that sold the best Italian food.  We ate our fill and then headed to bed!  The next morning, Erin's Aunt Carol came into town and we all went out to breakfast at the Tamale House for more delicious tacos!!!  We all had a nice time together, but it was getting time to start up the bachelorette side of things....

Meredith arrived first and got the place ready, and wow, did we have a nice place!  It was an Air BandB with a pool and really comfortable furniture, including a massage chair! (I found out later Tim sponsored it for us to make sure we had a good time in a good space...what an amazing man who I will be marrying in 3 months!!!)

We stayed at The Beverly (oh la la!) and it was in the PERFECT location!  Erin, Meredith and I went downtown to get some supplies (aka, drinks and snacks, including newly discovered and delicious thin Oreos).  The girls had everything else planned: matching "Bride's Tribe" t-shirts and sunglasses, bachelorette decorations, champagne and confetti, and a veil for me to wear out; it was amazing.  While walking on the streets of Austin, we ran into one of Meredith's friends, who was in town for his bachelor party...funny coincidence!  Andrea arrived a little later and then we went to check out Austin!

Our first adventure: seeing the bats.  This is a big deal in Austin; thousands of bats live under this bridge and they all fly away at once at dusk and apparently it's an amazing sight.  So we arrived well before dusk and found what we thought would be a good viewing area to see the bats.  Crowds of people began gathering on the bridge, in the park, and on the river.  We waited, and waited, and waited some more, imagining the bats swooping out from under the bridge so that we'd have to step back in amazement.  Well, what really happened is that while we were chatting and looking about, someone next to us said, "There they are!" and we said, "Where?"  And they were VERY far away flying in great hoards across the horizon.  It was neat to see the flying black cloud...there may have been millions of bats!  And the cloud kept coming and coming; it was not the close encounter we envisioned, but it was fun!

So then we headed to Rainey Street, the quieter hip street in Austin lined with unique bars and restaurants.  On our way we had to take a darkened path through the woods.  It was a little scary, but we're in the middle of a city, so wild animals should be out of the picture, right?  As Meredith and I walked in front, we heard a loud snarl and screech from an animal as if it were fighting another animal and we freaked out and ran back to the main street.  Luckily, another group came up behind us and we asked if we could walk with them through the woods.  They shrugged and said sure and probably thought we were crazy, but we say it was a narrow escape!!!

We ate at the G'Raj Mahal, a quirky Indian food restaurant.  The tikka masala dish won Meredith over to Indian food and Andrea was a good sport as we shared plates.  Our waitress warmed up to us and offered lots of great advice on what to see in Austin.

We continued bar hopping and Andrea and Meredith finally got to try some authentic Austin street tacos.  Then we headed back to our comfortable abode and crashed.

The next morning we chatted in our living room and everyone got to know each other better.  Everyone got along so well, meaning that the wedding will be even more fun since my closest friends are getting to know each other better. 
So we heard about this BBQ place that you just couldn't miss, but should expect to wait in line for hours for it.  It's called Franklin's BBQ and wait we did!  It opened at 11:00am, so we got there at 10:30 and we had about a 4 hour wait ahead of us.  I guess we should have gotten there at 8:00am!  But the place was prepared with camping chairs, umbrellas, and no problems with open beer bottles.  So we "tailgated" in Franklin's parking lot and had an AWESOME time.  Our neighbors in line were really nice and the time flew by!  And EVERYONE in Austin thus far has congratulated me on getting married!  I've been wearing my veil out a lot and people are genuinely excited for me and have been giving me well wishes.  I LOVE AUSTIN!

So FINALLY we got to the menu and ordered A LOT.  Andrea ordered her own sandwich just in case it wasn't enough.  And wow, it was delicious and well worth the wait!!!

Needless to say, we were stuffed, but then I found out about our next adventure and learned I would have to make way for more food!!! 

The girls really outdid themselves by organizing a bicycle tour of Austin.  This is quite a big deal considering Erin, Meredith and Andrea probably have not been on a bike since they first learned how to ride one.  To me, of course, biking is the only way I'd want to see Austin, so they compromised and found electric bikes!

We took an Uber to Rocket Electric Bikes, but our driver got a little lost and clearly only spoke Spanish.  Sweet!!!  Time to use my Spanish skills!  So I spoke with him about where we needed to go and we arrived just in time for our foodie tour of Austin.  Donnalou was our guide and she was a character!  She started off with bike basics and just as we were all about to take our first try on an electric bike, Andrea screamed, "Bee!  Bee!" and she fled from the bike.  Off to a good start!  But we quickly got the hang of things and having an electric bike is amazing.  If you're going up a hill, just use the throttle and up you energy needed!  This was the only way we would all make it through a bike tour of Austin!


We started off on a beautiful walkway along the lake, or river, or whatever it is and had some great views of the cityscape.  Then we wound our way up to city roads which required a bit more technical maneuvering. 

Donnalou then stopped us outside of a quant looking bar and taught us how to two-step: "slow, slow, quick quick, slow."  She went a little fast before we sort-of caught on, but we got the basics.
We then rode to our first restaurant: Licha's Cantina.  Now remember, we still have about 3 pounds of Franklin's BBQ in our bellies, and Donnalou ordered A LOT of food.  We had chips and guac, 3 different kinds of totados, and I don't even know what else.  We barely ate any of it....even Meredith and Andrea couldn't clean up!  We explained to Donnalou why we couldn't finish the food and she instantly thought of a new plan, as she could see we were all quickly relapsing into food comas. 
At the next restaurant we had minimal appetizers and cold brews to wake us up.  Then Donnalou decided to take us all the way across Austin to Barton Springs.  On the way there we stopped at random little places in the park, like this little memorial to some famous Hispanic singers. 

We followed an awesome bike path that followed the river and even looped up to this bridge.  We had a great view of the city and were completely enjoying our time together.  I think even Donnalou started to take off her tour guide hat and we were all just having a great time together on our bike ride. 
We finally made it to Barton Springs, which is a really cool spot to swim in green blue waters.  This is also where Austin City Limits takes place.  It was beautiful!  And the moon was out! (Erin knows I love to look at the moon.)
But it was getting late and Donnalou had to get back to her dogs.  We were going to try some Thai ice cream, but it was too busy, so she took us to a quiet little meditation center where she and her friend, Steve, first met.  We ordered delicious pies and just relaxed in a calm setting surrounded by bamboo.

We cranked it up into high throttle gear and zoomed through Austin back to our starting point.

But we weren't finished.  Even though we were about 2 hours over our tour time, Donnalou stopped everyone underneath a bridge so everyone could sing "Going to the Chapel" to me.  Donnalou had a great voice and it was a very joyous moment for me having my friends there so happy to celebrate my marriage to Timothy.  Then Donnalou blessed our marriage as we all held hands together.  I teared up at the honesty of the moment.  In my travels I have found that these moments, moments you could never predict or schedule, is what makes the trip meaningful and amazing.

We helped Donnalou lock up the store and then Steve gave us a ride home.  Thanks Donnalou and Steve!!!  Check out her youtube video about older ladies still having fun...

OK, so the night IS NOT over!  This is also our big night out on the town on wild and crazy 6th Street!  The girls gave me an amazing gift before going out: a Mrs. Amyot robe!!!   I LOVE IT!  It's getting real....
We got a late start on 6th Street so we had to make up for time with shots.  I learned very quickly to be careful wearing a veil out because you will be offered free drinks left and right!  And free bottles of champagne.  Everyone sent me well wishes and we ran into Meredith's friends later on.  After late night pizza, we were feeling pretty good!

We decided to get some good breakfast on Saturday morning.  We had heard great things about The Hillside Farmacy, a farm-to-table kind of restaurant, but it was packed, so we settled at an empty new hotel restaurant.  It ended up being DELICIOUS, and good thing because I was a bit out of whack from the night before.  The plan was to go kayaking today, but I said we could hold off on that and all the girls gave a secret sigh of relief!  (Also, apparently I passed out pretty hard on the couch last night and Meredith was able to give me a permanent marker tattoo!)

When we got back to the condo, the girls had a fun game for me to play.  They had my friends send a pair of underwear for me and I had to guess which friend sent which pair.  It was hard at first, then I got the hang of it!  I had the most trouble guessing who gave me the Patagonia undies; so many of my friends are active and outdoorsy!
After some more games, it was nap/rest time.  While Erin slept, Meredith and Andrea started to get hungry, so we made our way across the street where we heard some music playing.  Turns out there was a benefit going on and singers were entertaining.  But there was only one food truck, and it was vegan much to the dismay of our group, but Andrea and Meredith gave it a go anyway in the name of hunger.  The famed vegan mac 'n cheese was not up to par...nothing beats real cheese!  But the vegan burgers were reasonable.
Then it was time to move on to the next authentic Texan adventure: two-stepping!  The girls did their research and found a honkey tonk that gives two-step lessons, so we arrived early to the White Horse.
We partnered up inside: I was with Erin and Meredith and Andrea were together.  We learned the very basics of two-stepping and then we put it into play on the dance floor.  Erin and I were catching on, but when we looked over to Andrea and Meredith, they were sitting at our table laughing.  Our instructors said everyone did well; they only had a bump-in with one couple- I'll give you one guess who that couple was!  So Mere and Andrea were out for two-stepping, but Erin and I continued on.  When we checked back in at our table, Andrea and Meredith had created their own two-stepping reality TV show starring the experienced couples on the dance floor.  They had a whole commentary on this one man who was dancing with a woman pretty closely, then he began dancing with another woman pretty closely and the original girl looked troubled and unsettled.  We were all cracking up with the commentary from Andrea and Meredith!!!  It was a hilarious experience.

After two-stepping we got some food and played one final game.  The girls had asked Tim to answer a whole bunch of questions before we left for Austin.  I had to try and guess his answers.  I did pretty well, but some of his answers were from left field!  Like his favorite breakfast food is eggs benedict.  No it's not...he makes blueberry/chocolate chip pancakes every Sunday!!!  But it was a lot of fun and made me feel like a bride-to-be.  I love Timothy with all my heart and I loved that even though he wasn't there physically, he was still involved in the festivities.  Thanks to my amazing friends for making this all work!!!
The next day (Sunday), Andrea and Meredith were up at 4:00am to go to the airport.  Andrea is already coaxing us all to come to Portland for a visit!  So Erin, my matron of honor, and I had the rest of the day together.  We went back to the Hillside Farmacy and had an AMAZING breakfast.

 Then we went to the capital building and had a little tour, which was pretty cool to see.
After that we met back up with Erin's Aunt Carol, cousin Logan and Hannah for a toast at the famed Driskill Hotel.  We popped a bottle of champagne and enjoyed the Texan décor of cow hides.  I love being close with Erin's's all about family!

Then Logan and crew drove Erin and I to the airport, but we had one last stop for ice cream along the way.  What an AMAZING and FUN trip to Austin, Texas for my bachelorette party.  I am very grateful for all the love and friendship I have known in my life.  And I am very grateful to have found Timothy, my lifelong partner.