The Wonderful and Weird of Austin

The Arrow won't likely be flying to Austin, but because you can obviously fly here commercial, we'd figure we'd share the wonderful and weird of Austin ("Keep Austin Weird" is the city's slogan, you know) especially during Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.

First stop: Max's Wine Dive near the Convention Center, during happy hour. It's not spooky here other than a dark atmosphere. And it may be called a "dive" but the wine prices are not dive-level. We chose a viognier (a white) and a malbec (a red), and several appetizers. Our cheese platter had a range of flavors from light to strong, and we played around with combos of which wine tasted best with which cheese. One lesson: don't drink a malbec with strong blue cheese. But the viognier which is a lighter wine, is fine with stronger cheese.


We left after dark, but well before the witching hour. Time to hit the 6th Street Halloween celebrations. We were among the older ones there -- you could definitely tell who was in the area for a conference -- but we still had fun people- and costume-watching:


Super heros:


This zombie appeared to be hungry. Deb kept it at bay with her iPhone then got away quickly:


These "Chilean miners" were unusually patient with people taking photos. It seemed like all they were doing was getting their pictures taken.


Then Deb noticed on the back of the cage, there's a Chili's logo! Indeed one of the miners came around to the back of the cage and started hamming it up there too:


Well hey, these guys are smart. They're on 6th St, they're having Halloween fun AND they're getting paid for it too!

When we left around 10, the streets were full and getting fuller, and the party was just getting started. It was a blur of people, cameras, lights, action:



Here's a Feature Film about the creativity mayhem of 6th Street on Halloween. It runs for about an hour and a half.
 
Having escaped the zombies and the vampires and the stomache-killing giggles from all the R-rated costumes on people who really shouldn't be wearing them, we lived to see another day ...
 

We got breakfast in the South Congress area and Deb got the Demon Brains special, our table number was 13 and our coffee mug had a demon on it!!! Ooooooooooooh, spoooooooooooooky. What a way to start Halloween Day! Here's what Demon Brains look like:


Looks suspiciously like omelette, cilantro, mushroom and feta to us. Tasted like it too. It definitely did NOT taste like chicken. And we have no idea what demon brains taste like. Hope we never do, either.

Then we walked the South Congress shops and found plenty of Day of the Dead inspiration:


There's no shortage of tattoo parlors here. With enough margaritas, would we get up the courage to get a skull tattoo? Ummmmmmm, no. No danger of that happening.


Much spookiness here including Ghost Tours of Austin and the House of Torment.


Now, Austin has some interesting sights that might not be on all tourist maps. With some extra research help like the blog 365 Things to Do in Austin, Texas, we learned about the Cathedral of Junk. It's surprisingly in a quiet neighborhood in a backyard.


It all started in 1988 with a few hubcaps on a fence. And now it has become this. The architectural choices the builder made are actually pretty good. The flourish at the top of this tower remind us of monuments we've seen in India:



Do you ever wonder where all the free AOL minutes go? You can find some here!



We headed back downtown for a late lunch at Cantina Laredo. It was excellent. Smooth margarita made with all fresh ingredients, two kinds of salsa just whipped up, chips still sizzling from the oven, guacamole made fresh at the table (!), and a very flavorful cheese enchilada that was so much more than your plain ol' cheese enchilada. Unless you're able to eat it now to experience it, words just can't convey the goodness. Trust us, this place is worth a stop.


From this:


To this, at your table:


The best margarita glasses, empty ones!



That's it for now, for the wonderfulness and wierdness of Austin.

(If you want better quality photos, don't complain to us, complain to Apple!)

Perfect 10 Flying to Door County on 10-10-10!

We awoke on Sunday to sunny blue skies for a fall color tour to Door County. Destination: 3D2, Ephraim-Gibraltar Airport and the town of Fish Creek. From our house it's a 4 1/2 hour drive to Fish Creek, but jump in the Arrow and zipadeedoodah, we're there in 1 hour, 20 minutes! It makes a daytrip possible. Or, gives you a lot more night-on-the-town time for a two-day trip.

Our "perfect 10" flight nearly became an 8 or worst-case, a 5 if we had to divert and wait out some weather, due to IFR conditions created by "mist" that was mysteriously only over Door County. Flying over it, it looked like cloudy cellulite, and about as unwelcome as cellulite too, as we can only fly VFR.



But as we passed overhead, the mist broke up and we saw glorious fall color on Door County trees:








And we saw clear as day, the 3D2 runway. Whew.





Because Fish Creek is only a 15-minute ride away by bike, we hopped on Trek Lime bikes donated by area businesses for airport visitors (thank you!!), and pedaled away. It was a cool breezy morning and the ride to Fish Creek is slightly downhill. Easy. Biking is a great way to go. We noticed old log cabins and the fall trees up-close during the ride.


We popped in at Julie's for breakfast. They serve breakfast all day. A bit of a wait, a popular place. We snagged outdoor seats for a morning meal underneath a yellow elm tree, outside in mid-October! Fabulous day!



Next to Julie's is the entrance to Peninsula State Park and its miles of biking and hiking trails. We continued the outdoorsy day by biking along the trails all the way to the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, a very charming lighthouse built in 1868. Some sights along the way:






Back in town, we parked the bikes to walk awhile. Everything in Fish Creek looks so perfect, even the bikes have a pretty place to sit:


We've visited Fish Creek before when we stopped in many shops like Founders Square area, where buildings are from the 1800s. During this trip, we had fun browsing affordable jewelry set with an array of polished stones, and ammonites from Madagascar in Stone Cutter, a shop in an old log cabin. We picked up some goodies small enough to carry back on a bike.


Oooooooooooooooooooo, spoooooooooky:


After all this biking, walking and shopping, we were hungry. We decided to go crazy at Wild Tomato restaurant and eat cheese curds, with fond memories of cheese curds when we lived in Minnesota. Nasty for you, but good. At Wild Tomato they spin your pizza dough:





And fire it over wood:



We got the veggie pizza with wood-fired red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, pesto and Wisconsin goat cheese. At most pizza places this combo turns into a mushy mess, but not at Wild Tomato. Every veggie was cooked but still crisp and had the freshest flavor. They're fresh because they're local. It really does make a difference. We haven't had a pizza this good since ... really can't remember, and we eat a lot of pizza. Yum!!




Although we didn't get to Gibraltar Grill during this trip, we must mention it as we've had good meals there during previous trip and it's very pilot-friendly. If you fly in, Gibraltar Grill may give you ground transportation to its location. And dogs are welcome on the patio!

Here are all the Friends of Ephraim-Gibraltar Airport -- try to visit them when you're in town.



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