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A big Texas star

A big Texas star at the Bullock Texas State History Museum

After Galveston we drove north to Austin. We were looking forward to seeing friends, hearing good music, as Austin is known for, and celebrating Dooder’s birthday.

I had been in touch with some friends from back home who had moved to the Austin area over 15 years ago. After settling in to the campground, we made plans to meet for dinner together at The Salt Lick in Driftwood. Our friends got there before we did and found out that there was already an hour and a half wait – and this was at 5:30! No doubt that the South by Southwest (SXSW – an enormous music festival) crowds had something to do with this, as the festival had ended just the day before. They offered to get the food to go and meet at their house. The kids instantly meshed and ran out into the backyard to play. Then the pets came out and our kids loved it – especially holding the lizards! The food was terrific, and the company was fantastic. We certainly stayed too long that night (it was a school night for them!) but the kids were having so much fun, and they even managed to fit in some Minecraft.

The next day we ventured into downtown to the Texas Capitol Visitors Center and the nearby Texas Capitol. We got a brief introduction into the early history of the state at the visitors center before heading over to the capitol.

Once in the capitol we decided to do a self-guided tour and wandered down the halls. Yay Yay was curious what the offices were like so we knocked at the Secretary of State’s office door and went in. We were welcomed by the staff and took a look around in the conference room. The kids enjoyed looking at the pictures, the flags, and the volumes of books, as well as sitting at the large ornate table where many important discussions have taken place. We left the office and walked upstairs into the House of Representatives chamber just after they adjourned – we just missed them! We then walked down to the hall to the Senate chamber and quietly sat down to listen to the last few minutes of their session (no photos allowed when they’re in session).

After admiring the architecture and grandeur of the capitol, we headed outside to the courtyard on the south side of the building and looked at the monuments, including the Confederate Soldiers monument. This monument lists all of the thirteen states that seceded from the Union and created the Confederate States of America.

One of my goals for the stop in Austin, given its reputation for the arts, was to have the kids hear some live music there. IMG_9509South By Southwest (SXSW) 2015 had just finished, but we were still hoping to experience something of the Austin music scene. One early evening the kids wanted to go to the playground at the campground, and we came upon a band playing in the gazebo. Short story is the band members are friends of a family staying at the campground, so they played a set for everyone there after finishing up at SXSW. Awesome! All three kids got to hear live music from the Shaun Peace Band… right at our campground! Sweet!!

The next day we ventured out to the new Bullock Texas State History Museum. The first exhibit we visited was around La Belle, a ship from La Salle’s colonization expedition. The exhibit explored the history of the doomed expedition, how the ship was found, how it was excavated, and how the team of archaeologists are piecing the ship together right in the museum. We spent a lot of time reading and looking through historical exhibits on the history of Texas, the establishment of the Republic of Texas, The Alamo, and joining the Union. We also saw exhibits on Texas today – such as oil production, farming, and technology. This was an incredibly impressive museum with great presentation of the rich past of Texas. Texas has a lot of pride and it shows through the history of the state and in the architecture everywhere from the buildings to the Texas star to the very grand expressways and bridges.

IMG_9540After experiencing rush-hour traffic in Austin, trying to get south from Downtown, we met up with our friends again for some Mexican food. Once again, the food did not disappoint and we all got to try something different than we were used to. We thoroughly enjoyed being with this inspiring family. After dinner, the kids spent some time playing together before we said our final good-byes of the trip. We hope it won’t be so long before we see them again.

Big time excitement while in Austin…. Dooder turned five!!!!! Our first birthday on the bus! It was hard to think about celebrating such a special day without the traditions we have at home, so we did our best to recreate some and made a big deal of how cool it was to turn five on the road. Five is a big deal in our family because it is the magical age when kids get to start chewing gum. Megan’s mom commemorates this special birthday with a gift of 100 pieces of gum! Her package arrived in Austin and Dooder was so excited to see all of that gum!! He proceeded to put a piece in his mouth and begin to chew. Heeding his mother’s warning to not swallow the gum, he very cautiously chewed it at the very front of his mouth until he was drooling gum juice, then quickly spit it out. This followed with 10 or more pieces before he was ready to move on to something else. Megan thought this was about the cutest thing ever and filled up her phone with gum chewing videos! Between the gum and the Minecraft plush figures, turning 5 was awesome!