Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Austin Adventures

After many efforts, my sister and I finally were able to align our schedules to accommodate a trip to Austin for me to visit her and see the new Pilates studio and new home. The weather was pretty nice for most of the trip, though the final day was a bit toasty, despite the high winds. A brief recap of my Austin adventures:

Wednesday 11/9 - Travel Day
This may sound odd, but I was quite excited to be flying on Southwest so that I could leave out of the new terminal at the Sac airport! The new Terminal B has been a huge project around here, and it opened both early and under budget - amazing. A couple of neat features are the large number of public art pieces and the emphasis on local restaurant offerings. (Mr. E and will be taking a public art tour of the Terminal led by a docent from the Crocker Art Museum this weekend). The terminal is beautiful, with lots of windows and a light airy feeling. Also great to have another Vino Volo location (airport wine bar), and I took advantage of the opportunity to purchase a bottle of the Tra Volo red blend to bring with me.

My flights were all on time, so I got to Austin around 7pm. Dinner with J & B at home (yummy salad fixings, fresh bread, wine) and some snuggling with the kitties before bed. Calypso and Captain Jack's "Texas cousins" include Pebbles, Bam-Bam, and Lucy. So nice to have access to kitties even when away from home!

Thursday 11/10 - Pilates & Dinner
I went for a run in the morning and then lounged around reading in the sun with the kitties while J went to Bikram yoga. Quick load of laundry when she got back, and then we headed off to her Pilates studio,, which is an absolutely beautiful space. I had seen pictures, but being there in person was of course much better! J and I worked out for about an hour before her friend and colleague, Kate, arrived to do some Ki Hara resistance stretching with us. J had just gotten back from the annual PMA conference, so she and Kate had lots of "Pilates business" to discuss, and I enjoyed hearing them talk about the different issues facing the association and about what J learned or noticed at the workshops she attended.

On the way home, we stopped by Zilker Park to see the natural pool (closed on Thursdays for cleaning) and walk around a bit. We passed the kayak and canoe rental area and figured we might take advantage of that the next day, depending on the weather.

Dinner was at the Eastside Cafe, a local restaurant that focuses on fresh and sustainable offerings. I decided to try some new items, so I ordered the sesame crusted catfish with sides of broccoli and okra with tomatoes. Mr. E and I have seen okra used often on Food Network shows, but I'd never actually eaten it, and I was quite pleased by the preparation. I'm sure the mix of tomatoes and ginger helped to provide additional flavor and texture.

Friday 11/11 - Pilates, Whole Foods "Mother Ship," State Capitol, Urban Bats
Same morning routine and then off to the studio again for about an hour-long workout together. I got to use the Chair, which I've never tried, and J was a really great trainer - she gave excellent visual and verbal cues and was completely encouraging throughout our entire time together.

Based on the time, we decided to skip the kayaking endeavor and instead headed downtown to the HUGE Whole Foods to meet B for a late lunch. I had a yummy spring roll with shrimp, carrots, cucumber, and avocado and picked up some fat-free gingersnaps for later. With two cars to deal with, we headed back to B's office just a few blocks away to take advantage of his free parking lot and then walked up Congress to the State Capitol.

Perfect timing - the next public tour was in about 5 minutes, so we waited around for the tour guide rather than wandering on our own. Several rooms were closed for the day, so the tour was only about 30 minutes, which was perfect. Mr. E and I had done the tour when we visited Austin several years ago for one of my academic conferences, and I had always remembered the unique aspect of the "annex," which was built entirely underground when the building needed to be expanded. The tour didn't include that part of the building, but we ended up there afterwards at the gift shop so I could buy some souvenir magnets.

The plan was then to go watch the bats fly out from under the Congress Bridge at dusk, but B found info online indicating that the bats had already migrated for the winter. Disappointed, we wondered if maybe there were stragglers, so he checked another site of a company that conducts "bat boat tours" and discovered that they were still offering the tour until the weekend. We figured it was worth checking out, but since J and I were getting a bit chilly, we stopped by Starbucks on the way to get some warm beverages before heading to the bridge. Unfortunately, the bats were a no-show. Drat! Guess I'll have to visit again during a more prime bat-viewing season!

Saturday 11/12 - East Austin Studio Tour
Same morning routine, although the laundry happened earlier so that I could have dry clothes to pack for my return trip. J had discovered that the annual East Austion Studio Tour was beginning on Saturday, and she and B were familiar with the Pump Project, an art house with multiple small studios for diverse artists, so we decided to make that our first stop and then wander around the area nearby. The entire experience reminded me of Sacramento's Second Saturday monthly event but all compressed into a shorter timeframe, since the E.A.S.T. lasts for 10 days straight.

At our final stop, I found a lovely print by Judy Paul and decided that a small poster of "Masala Elephant" would have to accompany me back to Sacramento. We then had a late lunch at Buenos Aires cafe (good food but rather odd service) and wandered to Texas Coffee Traaders for an additional beverage. Both J and I ordered iced coffee, since it was a bit warm that day, and agreed that it was hands-down the BEST iced coffee we'd ever tried - smooth, almost creamy flavor, not bitter at all, just delicious!

After that, it was time to head to the airport, where I enjoyed looking at the work of several local Austin artists while waiting for my flight. Due to weather issues in San Diego, I got back to Sac about 90 minutes late, but Mr. E and the kitties provided a welcome homecoming.

A wonderful trip. Good weather, great conversation and company, perfect amount of time, just enough to do without feeling crazy-busy. So glad we finally made it happen!


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