The Casting Dock

The Austin Experience.

I know the new year has come and gone, but I just can’t let Christmas go.

Bear with  me for one more thing:

My dad is a fan of giving “experiences” for Christmas, both in place of and as part of traditional, tangible gifts. When I was in college, I didn’t really need or want much by way of typical Christmas gift stuff, so instead every year my dad would give me the “Red Sox experience.” I went to school north of Boston and particularly at the time I was a decent Red Sox fan (plus this was in the 2003-2007 period when they were especially exciting) and tickets were (and still are) relatively hard to come by. So, he would get me 12 tickets in a variety of locations around Fenway and I could choose the games and how to break up the tickets depending on who I wanted to come with me. It was a sweet gift and it really sparked the season of Christmas experiences which I have fondly adopted.

Jerry is a tough cookie when it comes to gift buying. He just rarely, if ever, actually wants or needs something–he is truly the epitome of a low maintenance guy. So, I have taken to giving him experiences instead (the gift that gives back to me–brilliant!). We have a $100 max for Christmas gifts, but I generally blow off that rule and just wrap his January birthday gift into his Christmas gift so I can maximize the experience. Last year I bought us tickets to John Mayer in DC and made a whole weekend out of it. It was a winner. This year, since we would be in Texas, I thought I would give him the Austin experience.

The weather didn’t fully cooperate, so my pleasant walk/jog around the town lake trail got bumped. Sadly. It’s so pretty…

But, the rest of the day went according to my plan! I got us a night at the Driskill Hotel in the heart of downtown. Built in 1886, it’s one of the oldest establishments in the city…and rumored to be haunted… I know that 125 year existence doesn’t hold a candle to pretty much half the places in Boston (or 75% of the places in Europe), but it’s a big deal and an historic landmark for us Texas folk.

We got down there in the afternoon after the weather cleared up and walked down to the capitol, which is evidently the largest state capitol building in the US. Since Jerry is a history buff, I knew he’d love scoping it out.

The inside of the dome is beautiful and a little dizzying. It’s 280 feet from the crest in the middle of the floor up to the star at the top, which despite it’s apparent tiny size, actually measures 8 feet across. The crest at the bottom is marked with the six different flags that have flown over the state of Texas. Yes, I quizzed Jerry, and yes, the little man got them all right: Spain, France, Mexico, the Confederacy, the US, and the Republic of Texas for those who care. Not too challenging, but I can’t guarantee I would have gotten it right. All four floors have walkways around the rotunda. Something about the circularity and varying levels of it is actually really dizzying though. Jerry is afraid of heights and refused to look over the railings. I should have been more compassionate, but I honestly thought it was the most hilarious thing. On the fourth floor he was pinned to the wall and just looked petrified. By the look of him, you would have thought he was on a 6 inch ledge with his back to the wall and his slow, calculated movements. I’ve always known he was afraid of heights, but I’ve never actually seen it in action. Poor guy–I just couldn’t stop laughing. Also, yes–you saw that correctly: the door hinges around the Capitol each have those ornate Texas Capitol plaques. We’re a Go Big or Go Home kind of state. For better or worse…and trust me, it’s a little of both.

Then we walked around the city a bit and went to this great Mexican restaurant where they make fresh cilantro-infused quacamole on your table. Big hit! I have definitely missed quality Mexican food throughout my time in New England!

Doesn’t The Driskill look so cool all lit up at night? I love this place!

Merry Christmas Hun! I hope you loved the Austin Experience.


1 Rhonda { 01.04.11 at 8:30 am }

What a great idea for a gift! Poor Jerry though…not only did he have to endure the fear of heights, but he also had to endure your laughter at his expense! I am sure he took it all in stride and for the sake of good fun! What is the name of the Mexican Restaurant you went to?? I am always up for trying new places when it involves Mexican food!!

2 Erica { 01.04.11 at 11:37 am }

Hi! You have so many posts! I love that it is so colorful and very “alive.” Your dress for Austin night was so cute, and I like how you write in a very conversational way. That is my fav type of reading and writing.

3 Mama Logan { 01.04.11 at 12:37 pm }

It’s ALL MY FAULT!! I’m the one Jerry gets his fear of heights from. I would have been pinned to the wall with him. So sorry, my son. I guess you could have inherited worse.

4 k&c's mom { 01.04.11 at 9:42 pm }

I grew up in Austin and we had a field trip to the capitol EVERY YEAR. I remember having my back pressed against the wall for fear the edge would pull me over. I can still feel that pull in my stomach. I only take my second grader class (in Austin, too!) on field trips where their feet stay firmly on the ground. I’m feeling your pain, Jerry.

5 bryan { 01.05.11 at 1:48 am }

I bet that Jerry had a great experience.

For your birthday I am going to do the same and present you with some sort of experience. I’m just not sure what… I know you love your jams, so I think I will get you the rock’n'roll experience. What is that? Well, I will sing five to ten of the best rock songs of all time for you (in person or over the phone). And get you a copy of Sticky Fingers on CD (or cassette?). And I will also take you to a karaoke joint and buy you a Sprite if I am around — if not, I’ll just owe you that part.

It will be awesome.

Happy New Year!

6 Jer { 01.05.11 at 7:55 am }

The Austin experience was DE-LIGHT-FUL.

Maybe I’ll join Bryan in giving you an experience for your birthday. I’ll do the Paula Dean experience: we do the gallon challenge with heavy cream and then eat sticks of butter like candy bars until we cannot move. That will help deaden your senses for when singing Bryan calls.

7 Craig W { 01.06.11 at 2:01 pm }

Oh … my … goodness, Ms. L. I heard about your blog at the dinner table last night. (Hint: my wife was the school nurse when you were in high school.) They ranted and sang your praises. And now I see that they did not oversell it once bit. What great writing … and the photography may be even better than the writing. This one has now joined my read-every-article list (along with the offerings of one of the 6 people commenting above me here).

8 Lisa { 01.07.11 at 11:19 am }

Rhonda–it was called Cantina Laredo on 3rd and Colorado…it was a little pricey and a more upscale look (for a Mexican restaurant) but the atmosphere and location were fun and the food was good!

Thanks Erica…I like the “alive” descriptor…and I LOVE that a have YOU as a regular reader…

Mama Logan–he definitely could have gotten MUCH worse!

Rayeanne–I remember our 5th grade capitol trip all too well! Katy had these high wasted highwater jeans and she had a crush on Zach at the time…I don’t remember one thing about the actual capitol tour, but I remember all the chatter about whether Zach liked her too, if they were standing next to each other or not, was that a smile or was he just getting something out of his teeth, the whole shebang…priorities of a 5th grader…

Bry–YES PLEASE. I would relish that gift experience…I’m salivating at just the thought…you’ve always had stellar dance moves…and those vocals, oh those vocals…

Craig, cracking the ranks of dinner-table-talk (!!!)–I feel as though this little blog has truly arrived! SO glad you’re enjoying it and thanks for the encouragement…sometimes you wonder if anyone is actually reading or enjoying it. Ultimately though, it’s such a fun outlet for me…I’ve really been lovin’ it…

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