Friday, February 17, 2017

A Texan Roadtrip

Well we made it back to Australia and are currently deep in the throes of jet leg. I’m finally taking the sage-old advice of sleep when baby sleeps. We try to push out bedtime by 30 minutes to an hour each day but for the most part, I’m still getting to go to sleep when I’m tired. Bedtime is currently 2:30pm!   At least that’s an improvement on 1pm bedtime the day we got here!

Because our long-haul flight left from Dallas, we decided to break up our trip a bit and have ourselves a little Texan holiday. I relinquished total control of the planning to Bryce, which is a BIG deal for me but I had a lot on my plate trying to get us out the door in Madison. It was refreshing to just go with the flow and Bryce did a great job planning. 

We booked a hire car and were able to use hotel points to book our accommodation. This was our first holiday with a baby and so knew that we would be doing things differently. The biggest concession was to slow down our pace and work on her time, namely around naps. We broke down our drives so that we were mostly only driving during nap times. More often then not, this worked well but more on that in another post. 

Texas is big and we had narrowed our Itinerary down to three places: Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Despite flying into and out of DFW an infinite number of times, all I knew about Dallas was that JFK died there. I knew absolutely nothing about San Antonio, though every one we spoke to mentioned how great the riverwalk was. Austin, I had lived in for 3 months many years ago, so basically had food on the mind! 
The Alamo, San Antonio
In Dallas, we drove past Dealey Plaza and the JFK memorial, had some amazing Lebanese and Mexican food and had a wonderfully unexpected catch up with an old friend. In Austin, we ticked off all the food boxes, caught the views from Mount Bonnell, explored the Capitol building and meandered around Lady Bird Lake. San Antonio was the biggest surprise. With it’s riverwalk and bridged walkways, Downtown San Antonio a bit like a modern, metropolitan Venice - both California and Italy. We also spent some time at the Alamo and some missions (old spanish ruins, some still active) just outside of town. 
Mount Bonnell, Austin

We were so lucky with the weather which was stunningly beautiful the whole week we were there… except for the last two days in Dallas were rainy and cold! A fitting adieu to the Northern Hemisphere winter! Now we are sweltering back in the Queensland heat, but surviving thanks to air conditioning! We just missed a wicked heatwave (record-breaking through much of Australia), but even the post heat-wave normal summer weather is a shock to the system after a Wisconsin winter.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Road to Nashville

We're changing it up today and Bryce is making an appearance on the blog to tell you all about his recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Enjoy!


A ten-hour drive was all it took to have me arriving someplace warm, well at least warmer than it was in Wisconsin. 

I met Kobus and Teresa about 12 years ago when I was working in South Africa. They have since moved to Nashville (actually Lebanon - a satellite town of Nashville). We have visited them at their previous Tennessee house in the past and I wanted to be sure to see them again on this trip. It didn’t work out for them to make it up to Madison as Teresa had a family emergency that she had to attend to back in South Africa and Kobus was recovering from knee surgery, so flying and driving were out for him.  We weren’t keen on a ten-hour road trip with a baby, so off I went alone for a guys weekend in Tennessee!

Bryce & Kobus
Kobus cooked up a storm, and we had a classic South African braai (i.e. BBQ-meat) with some buddies the first night, and on another night a loaf of awesome home-cooked bread with a traditional South African potjie (a pot in the fire layered with meat, onions, vegetables, more meat, port/wine and spices). It was one of my special requests that I remembered from my year in South Africa, and it tasted as great as I remembered.  We might have drunk a bit too much wine that night, but it was great fun.
South African Potjie
Freshly baked bread!
When out and about at shops, the southern accent was everywhere and I found it quite hard to understand. I had several instances where I was just forced to "smile and nod"; the person on the other side of the conversation could have pretty much been saying anything for all I could understand!  I have a feeling that one old woman was giving me a hard time about something, because after a smiling but indecipherable spiel from her, I made out "Arm jurst kiddn"... wait, did she just insult me and I was smiling and nodding like an idiot?  Oh well!

While I did the drive down in one go, I broke up the drive back up to Wisconsin into two half-days. I got off the road on the way back just as a wicked snowstorm was starting.  As soon as I found out that the hotel had a hot-tub, I was sitting in it watching the snow blast and howl horizontally outside the window.  It was much nicer to be inside and off the road for that (and in a hot-tub to boot)!  The snow had been cleared by the morning and it was smooth sailing right up to just before Madison, when it started snowing again.  Good timing!

I had a great time and Kobus really looked after me well.  Thanks a bunch, mate.  Can't wait to catch up with you both next time!