We're on our run home now, with long days of driving broken up by stops planned to visit family and friends along the way. It's no accident we're making our homeward run through the nation's southernmost deserts. Friends and family members like these are too precious to pass up.
Next stop: Austin, Texas - home of the University of Texas Longhorns - where the rock n' roll hand sign for the devil becomes the horns of a longhorn, typically displayed by proud students and alumni who couple the sign with an enthusiastic cheer, "Hook 'em!"
This is cowboy country, even if this city is known for its countless coffee houses, shopping opportunities, incredible dining opportunities and trampolines.
OK, the city isn't known for trampolines, but my cousin, always a child at heart, knew JUST the place to give the girls their first introduction to Austin. Jumpoline reminded us a lot of Sky High Sports in Sacrament, CA. But Jumpoline was a much more compact, cleaner, more visually appealing spot for the family. My cousin (pregnant with twins so unlikely to jump on a trampoline ANYTIME soon) and I enjoyed a relatively uninterrupted visit while the girls jumped and rolled and flopped themselves sweaty.
Next stop - Barton Springs. I had no idea where we were heading. Had I an inkling, I would have packed towels and swimsuits. Austin's aquifer pumps out some 27 million gallons of water every day from this city center natural freshwater spring in Zilker Park. For $3/adult ($1/child or senior), visitors can swim in the cool (68 degree) water. A concrete deck (ala swimming pool) has been built around the natural spring and there are ramps and stairs that provide swimmers with water access. A diving board juts out over the deepest part of the spring. Many of the swimmers we saw here donned swim caps and goggles and swam the spring pool like any other swimming pool. The girls particularly enjoyed trying to catch minnows in the shallow end.
We'd hoped to see the Congress Bridge Bats, but a cold snap signaled the end of bat season here. Here's what we might see on our next swing through, if we time it well:
Our cousins also introduced us to lots of great eats for such a short stay, not the least of which was Sushi Zushi. The Tower is not to be missed - sashimi on rice served with four types of caviar, avocados, and wasabi mayonnaise all mixed at the table. Sounded not so fab to me, but I thought I'd give it a taste. Wow...good thing I'm adventuresome or I would have missed out. (The girls, as adventuresome as they are, weren't all that interested in caviar so opted out. E gave it a taste, but left the rest to us. V is opposed to eating baby anything, except chicken eggs.)
It was really nice to catch up and cruise town with one of the most-intelligent, funniest pregnant ladies I've known. Thanks, Cuzz, for your hospitality!