Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Boston to Austin: A Yankee Heads to the Sun Belt (again)

I'm on vacation! Yes, its true. Tomorrow I will take to the friendly skies and transport myself from snowy Boston to hopefully not rainy Austin, Texas. I must admit, I have never had any desire to travel to the lonestar state. In fact, I always thought that I would spend my first "real" vacation from the 9-5 work-a-day world strolling the Las Ramblas in Barcelona, or skiing in the back bowls of Vail. Boy, I was way off.

So why Austin? Well, for one there is a pretty girl that I know there. Two, why not?! Afterall, it is suppossed to be a pocket of "hipness" in an otherwise oversized, overfed, overhyped, Red State. Not that I have any preconceived notions. Anywho, I'm hoping that my time "down south" goes a little better than my previous trips below the Mason Dixon line.

My first experience in the south was as a ten year old boy at Walt Disney World. Wow, what a dissapointment that was. Florida entered some sort of freakish cold snap while I was there, which caused the amazing pool outside of my hotel (complete with a pirate ship waterslide, a.k.a. ten year-old heaven), to be unusable. I will never forget the pool boy who said that " I must have brought the bad weather with me." For a Maine boy in Florida, this is the definition of cruelty. Second, besides the initial excitement of Space Mountain, everything at Disney World was pretty boring, fake, and "not as cool as the commercials." Did I just quote myself from thirteen years ago? Yes I did.

My second experience in the south was not any better. In high school I spent an entire week at an A.A.U. basketball tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. Our team, which was solely comprised of my proud high school teammates, never came within twenty-five points of an opponent. Moreover, off the court we tried to find entertainment in Greensboro. This is not something that I suggest doing. As I recall, what should have been downtown was nothing but two or three stale office towers with literally nothing around them, except parking lots. We never even ate downtown. We had to take our overly cramped van ten minutes outside of the city to find some suburban chain eatery where multiple waitresses asked us if we were from Canada. However, we did spend one long afternoon at a regional mall where I got a brand new pair of shorts stolen from me. That was fun.

My third experience in the south involved another pretty girl, and Greensboro again. I don't feel like going into details.

My fourth experience in the south was not bad. If I said that it was, I would feel like a spoiled brat because I spent an entire spring break at Kiawah Island. For those of you who do not know Kiawah Island, it is an ulta-exlusive, gated island in South Carolina where my college buddy happened to have a condo. I mostly lounged on the beach, kayaked the back marshes, drank rum, and pretended that I was decent at golf. Regardless of the fact that I was about as completely removed from reality as one can get, it can be good to sleep with the enemy and see how the other half lives. My only regret from this trip is that I didn't take more pictures of Savannah, Georgia - we went there for a long afternoon and an amazing Widespread Panic concert. If there is anything that I love as much as cities, its music.

My last experience in the south does not really count. I was in Miami during spring break of my senior year of college. To me, Miami is not the south. Rather, Miami is one unbelievable melting pot of hispanic culture, art deco architecture, hideous sprawl, and natural ecological beauty. It is as equally ugly as it is beautiful. I loved every minute of my time there.

This brings me to tomorrow. I will fly from what is basically the capital of New England, to the capital of Texas. Besides renting a bike and taking numerous pictures with my digital camera, I have no plans other than to hang out with my beautiful friend Laura. I have had some strange times traveling outside of my quaint New England life, but I look forward to seeing and learning new things from different places. And as far as Austin goes, I know very little. But learning is what traveling is all about. It won't be the Rockies and it certainly will not be Barcelona, but it will be Austin and if it isn't great, at least I will have some more stories.

Things to check out in Austin:
1. Guerro's for Mexican food
2. Continental Club for music (across the street from Guerro's)
3. Club DeVille for a drink
4. Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
5. Kerby Lane for breakfast
6. New homeless shelter, green design and really interesting. Its downtown.
7. UT Tower, you can now go up to the observation deck.
8. bats at Congress Ave Bridge, not sure if it is the right season
9. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Gutenberg Bible on display
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Disney World
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