Last Saturday our daughter Lily and her dear husband returned home after a visit with their Austin relatives - but most of that special time is not the stuff of blog posts. We were glad to be together and also glad Austin displayed spectacular blue skies. It's been a long, cold, wet winter in the Pacific Northwest.
When guests come from out-of state, it gives us a chance to act like tourists in our own town - that's the part I want to share with you.
A favorite place to take visitors is a funky mini-golf course on Barton Springs Road, south of the river. Nearly 60-years old, Peter Pan golf was created by the Dismukes family. It's not a tournament-type course, but can present interesting challenges to the players, especially at night.
You might not think of a bike store as a tourist attraction, but when the shop is called Mellow Johnny's and it belongs to Lance Armstrong, it's a must-go-there destination, especially for a guy who bikes in triathlons and a gal who will be part of the Livestrong Challenge this summer. Within the bike store we found a coffee shop named Juan Pelota cafe in ironic tribute to Lance's battle with cancer. It was very cool to see bikes Lance rode in races on display in the shop.
Even when we have no company to impress we occasionally head down to South Congress for Home Slice Pizza. What a fabulous crust on those pies - and such perfect toppings. And it's right across the street from Tesoros Trading Company. Lily & I bought identical oval black clay bowls. Here's mine with some beautifully decorated, blown-out eggs that our daughter made as a gift and hand-carried on the plane.After we went to Tesoros, I realized that exactly one year earlier during Austin Spring Fling, Garden Bloggers from all over the country ambled together down South Congress in search of souvenirs. Shout out to Kathy Purdy & her friend Cynthia!
When the Garden Bloggers met in Austin last year another place everyone wanted to go was the Natural Gardener. We love to take people there! Not only is it a wonderful nursery but it's a great place to stroll around and think and dream - with a butterfly garden, vegetable demonstration gardens and water features. Philo and I usually make a stop at the dig-it-yourself Soil Yard whenever we drive down. This time we had four people wielding shovels, so filling the back of the car with bags of John Dromgoole's Rose Magic and Revitalizer Compost was a very speedy process, giving us more time to wander the nursery lanes.
I couldn't resist snapping a stack of turtles in Lady Bird Lake. The name used to be Town Lake, but after Lady Bird Johnson died, the downtown section of the Colorado River was renamed in her honor. We walked the part of the very popular hike and bike trail that passes the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, the Long Center for the Performing Arts (just a few days after we'd been there for the Leonard Cohen concert), and the off-leash dog park. When we strolled the paved hike and bike trail it wasn't much of a workout, but it was a little hotter and dustier when we climbed up the trails at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve . This preserve is not manicured and you have to watch where you put your feet. Wildflowers grow along the trails, At some points there are views of Loop 360 to the West and a pond surprises you when it appears in this arid setting. It had been a few years since we'd been to Wild Basin with a different set of visitors. That hike turned out to be quite an ordeal because the temperatures were over 100°F...guess it took us awhile to get over the experience! It was funny to realize that because I can now identify more of the trees and plants in the woods, walking there was somehow more enjoyable than in the past.
Six of us went to the Flat Creek Estate Winery for a wine tasting - a fun new thing for some of us and a chance for the experienced to show off their sophistication. The drive out to the beautiful Tuscan-style buildings and grounds near Marble Falls was long enough to be interesting without being tedious.
We enjoyed the different wines, bringing home a few bottles. (If you go to the winery on the weekends the Bistro will be open. Because we were there mid-week, instead of snacking on Mediterranean fare after the tasting, we ended up at a roadside Sonic in the nearby town of Lago Vista.)
Our daughter admired the label on the Bucking Horse Red which featured an image of "Cage Johnson Spurs 'Em Up Aboard Cyclone" by famed Texas Artist Bob Wade.
The tasting had proved to us that the inside of the bottle was as fine as the outside - this red was perfect with delicious pies from Reale's Pizza. For our group there is no such thing as too much pizza.
Mayfield Park was once the private home of the Mayfield family with the gardens developed over a long time by Mary Mayfield Gutsch and her husband Milton Gutsch. Some of the plants have been here since the 1920's with peacocks and peahens added in 1935. Philo & I first saw this park in September 1999, soon after we moved to Austin. Mayfield proved to me that beautiful flowers could grow in this climate. Maybe MSS of Zanthan Gardens can tell us whether these lovely red flowers are St Joseph Lilies or something else in the amaryllis family. Not too far from Mayfield is a favorite place to buy plants, Shoal Creek nursery - we stopped there to walk around and look at the pottery. I couldn't make a decision on the pots, but found another Loropetalum and some Purple Nicotiana. Lily & BJ and Philo & I are all gardeners so if we lived closer to each other, visiting nurseries together would be a normal thing to do on weekends. We cherish these chances to act normal and just hang out!
Hanging out in Austin also means enjoying Tex-Mex restaurants. Our son suggested Serranos, which is especially fun on 2-for-1 Enchilada night when the chips & queso are hot and the margaritas refreshing. Taco Cabana is more casual, which can be handy when you're out touring.
The Elisabet Ney museum is an old museum- so it's probably okay to use an old photo. I forgot to take a new picture when we visited this museum, the studio of early Austin's fascinating woman sculptor. Click to enlarge the photo so you can see another visitor we took to the Ney Museum...the paper person called Flat Stanley.
We all had one final outing the day before our guests flew home - a short ride out to Blanco for a tour of the Real Ale Brewery. This was too much fun - beer we like (and can buy locally) and an amazingly detailed tour and explanation of how beer is made. When we lived in Illinois, Philo and our older sons did some home brewing and the process is interesting to all of us. I'm fond of the Rio Blanco Pale Ale and Philo, who looks for high IBU numbers, prefers the Full Moon Pale Rye Ale. He also likes the Real Heavy, which is available seasonally but on draught, not in bottles. The Brewmaster AKA "Tyrant" was a wonderful tour guide, witty and ironic, languidly imparting quite specific information.
The vagaries of Texas law allows the brewery to give tours and samples of the various brews but unlike wineries, breweries can't sell any of the product to their visitors so we couldn't bring home a sampler 6-pack. This inequity has recently been a subject of much discussion in the beer-brewing and beer-loving community.
The backdoor clematis bloomed too late for our visitors and too late for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - but it opened just in time to be the end photo of this PLEASE COME VISIT AUSTIN post. Hope to see you soon!
2016 – APRIL ANNIE’S GARDEN DAY
1 week ago