Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pecans, Hill Country, and BBQ

Texas looked a lot different through the window today. There were hills, gently rolling hills, covered with more mesquite but more oaks too. We saw more road kill possums and a turkey or two, and a LIVE turkey. I think Benjamin Franklin was right, the turkey should have been our national bird. We saw less cattle and more goats and donkeys in pastures alongside the highway. The Allsup convenience stores have shelves of sunflower seeds and jerky in a wide variety of flavors. How about dill pickle sunflower seeds? When you spend hours on the road you start to notice other things that have a pattern or a common thread. I don't know, maybe it was because we enjoyed the series Friday Night Lights from 2006; anyway we started noticing high schools along the way and their mascots. We saw Zephyr Bulldogs, Gorillas, Foxes and Vixens, and Cardinals. Oh, and if you are an antique collector, there are plenty of places beckoning you to stop along Hwy. 183S in Texas.

We didn't stop for antiques but we did stop for pecans in Goldthwaite, TX.

I indulged my sweet tooth and had a good conversation with the owner of the store who, by coincidence, has lived in the tri-cities area of WA. I asked about all the fields of goats we had seen in the hill country. No, they are not raised for milk, but for meat. I said that I knew a few hispanic restaurants that served goat in Seattle but most goat meat was in halal markets for Muslims and I did not see any Muslims in Texas, that is for sure. She said that is exactly the market for the Texas goats. The animals are slaughtered to Muslim religious expectations and then the carcasses are frozen and shipped to other parts of the country. 

In Brownwood my hankering for BBQ was satisfied! I would give Underwood's a 3 out of 5 stars (it is a buffet, after all). I had the steak and then ladled on some extra barbecue sauce. The beans weren't as spicy as I like. The peach cobbler though; that was a 5 star desert! The crowd and the ambiance were south of 65 for the most part. It kind of reminded me of Huckleberry Square in Burien.
Then, I barely blinked and we were in Austin. We chose a Days Inn that is definitely on the 'wrong side of the tracks' umm, 'highway 35'. It has zilch walkability to downtown. I mean it can be done; but it is so unpleasant to walk alongside 75mph highway traffic. But the room is clean and the beds are comfortable and we have good AC, a flat screen TV and wireless internet. All will be fine. 

While it is the 'hike from hell' to walk to downtown Austin, we did it and I (along with hundreds of other people) stayed long enough to watch the sunset and the bats emerge from under the Congress Bridge. 

Then on the walk back I saw the romantic and beautiful Driskill Hotel and I just had to take a couple pictures. 

Although the walk back to the 'other side of the highway' was not pleasant it was good medicine for all the time spent driving and passaging across the Lone Star State.

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