Monday, January 26, 2015


Dallas was another place to enjoy old friends and family.
It was rainy, our trip was drawing to a close. Niall's good friend from college and his partner were such gracious hosts and set us up in the comfiest room in their gorgeous house! They had two sugary sweet dogs too.

We stopped in Georgetown on the way, where Niall went to college. It's cute - in that quaint little Texas town way. We had coffee at  Cianfrani , a shop Niall frequented as a student.

In Dallas, we got to hang out with Niall's cousin and family and eat sushi, as well as ride in their Tesla!
We zoomed around in this electric car and it was amazing. It was such a smooth, spacious, quiet, and fast ride. I got to sit with Niall's cousin's daughter (who Google just told me is his first cousin, once removed) in the kids' section in the back. Pretty cool to look out at the world from that angle. There are some great advantages to being small. 

Next time we're in Dallas, I'm sure we'll do more site-seeing, but it was so nice to chill out awhile and share some laughs with loved ones.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Austin - Our Second Home

 We have tons of family in Austin and have spent a whole lot of time there.
It was so comforting to arrive and settle in for a whole week.

One of my favorite places is my dad's house. He has lived in many dwellings over the years, but wherever he is, it always feels like home when I go there. 

Some things I love about my dad's home:

There are lots of good books. I generally pick one up and read the whole thing while I'm there. This time it was Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist. It was beautiful - full of longing.

There are the familiar framed photographs, the meditation pillow in the corner, the sparkling water (and not much else) in the fridge, and scrawled notes lying around.

There's a peaceful stillness and coziness to the space that I know well and appreciate. 
After Niall and my's long journey, spending a little time there was such a respite.  

We had the chance to visit my dad and his lovely girlfriend, Beth's community garden plot. Beth made a gorgeous bouquet of herbs for us - including fragrant rosemary, which I used in a potato salad for the party Niall's family had while we were there. 

This garden is so lush and there are bees there! It was so fun to check it out and see the enormous plot  (or plots, rather) they have.

We had lots of quality time with family, including the youngest members:

We also went to see Birdman at super cool Violet Crown Cinema.  Violet Crown has reserved, comfy seats and a cafe. Wow, was that movie good. It is a true masterpiece.

We have a whole lot of fond memories of that week, but not a whole lot of photos.

Before long, it was time to leave. We had a wonderful visit in this fun city with family and friends. Writing this makes me want to go back!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sweet San Antonio

We always have fun in San Antonio. In some ways we like it better than Austin - it's not as hip or busy, yet has so much culture, nature, and history.

We enjoyed a visit to the lovely grounds of the McNay Art Museum. There are lots of sculptures to admire there, among the well-maintained gardens. 

I came across a gorgeous deceased Monarch butterfly.

We met up with some of Niall's family to eat - Niall's mom sweetly had me in mind and suggested a vegetarian restaurant, Green. I absolutely recommend if you ever find yourself in San Antone.
We sat outside and had a feast, which included the best kale salad I have ever had.  

Then Niall and I wandered around, as the restaurant rests within a newly developed area we hadn't visited before. This neighborhood is known as  Pearl, because its where the Pearl Brewery used to be located.
There were lots of great little stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars - all along the San Antonio River. It was cool to walk along the river in a different part of downtown. The more famous, historic and touristy center of activity, the San Antonio River Walk, is a place I've visited many times. It's wonderful - there are always lots of people there, enjoying the tons of Tex-Mex restaurants and boat rides. I especially love it during the holiday season, when the trees are strung up with lights. However, strolling along Pearl's river banks felt much mellower and natural. It's an artsy, pretty place, so it was right up our alley.  

We found Rosella Coffee Company (below), a friendly place for Niall to get a beer and for me to get a coffee. I grew obsessed with the brownies at Green, so we went back and picked one up for me - incredible.

We paid a brief visit to the Sunken Gardens in Brackenridge Park. This park brings me back to my early childhood - it's big with lots to do. 

We stayed with Niall's friends from high school - a really kind couple with two kids, a sweet elderly kitty, and a spectacular home.

San Antonio treated us well - we spent time with people we love, enjoyed the comforts of a home, ate delicious food, and saw some awesome sights.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Big Bend!

I'm excited to share a little bit of Big Bend today. 
Times have been busy in Gainesville and as a result I have been neglecting the blog. It feels good to be back here and almost done reminiscing about the big trip.

Our travels took us up to Canada and then down to this spot on the edge of Texas, on the border of Mexico. On our way there, we stopped in a couple of small towns we liked even more than Marfa - Marathon and Alpine.
Big Bend is huge and hot. A distant mountain range, clumps of cacti, peach rock jutting out, dusty trails. 

One of my goals of the whole trip was to soak in a hot spring. I had a chance here - we found a tiny hot spring off the brown, rapidly moving Rio Grande (above and below). 

We could see Mexico right across the Rio Grande!


We spotted a three legged horse wandering on his own way off in the distance on the Mexico side.

There was a golden glow to everything as we enjoyed the view by sunset.

My dad told me he wondered what we would think of this Texas National Park after visiting all of these other grand places. He thought maybe we'd be a little unimpressed. It's true - the beauty was different here with its wide open desert of brown gravel and shrubs and large, rowdy river. It was more familiar to us, there was a sense of isolation to it, and it did not inspire those gasps of wonder that places like Big Sur did. Yet, we were far from unimpressed. There is such beauty in this place - a beauty of solitude and expansiveness.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Marfa Lights

Marfa’s biggest draw is the phenomenon of the Marfa Lights. These are mysterious, dancing lights that have been witnessed many times since the 19th century. The lights occur right outside of Marfa on the horizon after nightfall. No one has been able to figure out exactly what they are, though many people have tried to identify the source.

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There’s a nice observation deck we hung out on, waiting for the sunset. We met the friendliest people in Marfa, including an older couple on this deck. They were traveling via RV to a huge chili cook-off and this was their third time hoping to see the Marfa Lights – they had waited in this spot before, but hadn’t seen anything unusual.




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We were so very hopeful, but when it got dark all we saw were some distant headlights. 

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We did see a gorgeous sunset and the night sky was filled with stars.

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West Texas brought the most brilliant sky gazing of the entire big trip.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Regarding Marfa

 Marfa has a population of about 2,000 people, so there’s a slowness to the place. It’s important to not visit on Monday and Tuesday, because there ain’t nothing going on those days.

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There are the people who have always lived there and there are the young artists who have moved in. I felt the presence of both as we ambled around.

We were bummed that Marfa Book Co. was closed down, as it was a top destination on our list. I just discovered that they are not closed for good, though! They are just renovating their location and are now in a temporary spot. This bookstore looks like so much more than a bookstore – it’s a community arts center of sorts. A great reason to visit Marfa another time!

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We sat outside at Padre's and had burgers. They had a pretty good veggie burger and vibe.

We went to the great little grocery store, The Get Go. It’s a specialty spot with stuff like organic, local veggies and quinoa. From what I can recall, we got dried mango and fancy potato chips. 

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I had an incredible iced coffee at Do Your Thing, which is where all the cool kids hung out. 

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 Marfa’s City Hall was pretty and pink.

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We also went to a couple of bars at night. One with a teepee and a treehouse! One with a fire pit and dogs hanging out!