Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Road Trip, Day 5 and 6 - East Texas

The fifth day of our trip started in Austin, Texas with a short drive to East Texas to see family. The drive was gorgeous!  We went through rolling green hills with lots of trees, flowers and farms. It looked like a story book.  Perfect and beautiful!

We made a stop along the way to visit a yarn shop called, iPurl in The Woodlands, Texas.  I found it online when I started planning the trip.  I've been following them on Facebook and in May they posted some great tools they'd gotten in the shop.  I was hoping they'd still have some by the time I got there.

We received a warm and friendly greeting when we walked in and the entire visit was nothing but enjoyable!  The people were super nice, the selection of yarn and supplies was wonderful, and they had lots of inspirational projects displayed around the store.  And, yes...they had the tools I was hoping for.

I finally got a lucet!  I've been wanting one for a while but haven't found any in yarn shops until now.  This one is made with beautiful cherry wood and it comes with directions complete with photos.  I'm so excited to give it a try!

The other tool I was hoping they'd still have was one of these yarn ball holders.  It spins and keeps yarn easily available but doesn't let it tangle.  One of the sweet ladies in the shop said it's one of her all time favorite yarn tools.  They not only had some left, they also had a choice of finishes.  I chose this dark wood one.  I love it and I'm so excited to try it out too.

I looked up the company that made these wood tools and it turns out they came from California....where I'm from!  Funny how I never saw them in yarn shops at home and had to come all the way to Texas to find them!  I'm just happy to have them and happy they're handmade in America.

I'm so into crochet thread lately and always on the lookout for pretty colors.  iPurl had lots of it in a few different brands.  I had to get some!  I already have in mind what I want to make with it!

While my items were being added up, I noticed some cute purse handles hanging near the cash register.  Yes, I had to get some of those too!  Aren't they cute?!

They had them in several different colors but I had to have the red ones.
I think they'll look super cute on a black felted purse.  Or, who knows...maybe another color!

As she bagged up all my goodies, she put a little gift inside for me...
a set of cute little stitch markers...

My daughter even bought some yarn!  It's a beautiful sock weight yarn with pinks, oranges and (I think) some purple in it.  It's pretty!  She's planning to crochet a lacy cowl with it.

We enjoyed our visit to iPurl so much!  I think they enjoyed our visit too as we chatted a lot and before we left they took our photo and posted it on their Facebook page...

I wish we had a local yarn shop where we live.  And, I wish it was like iPurl!
Not only did they have great stuff and wonderful people but they also have lots of classes, stitch-alongs, charity project stitch-alongs, groups, etc.  It sounds like so much fun!

Back on the road...we headed north to visit my wonderful aunt and cousins.  We had a wonderful visit!  I love them so much!  I'm not posting any photos of them though as mine all turned out blurry (my daughter got good ones). It's always wonderful to see them and spend some time together.  Since we live so far apart, we don't get to see them very often.

We were excited to find out they have Cardinals and were quickly on the lookout for some.  It didn't take long.  My aunt re-filled her bird feeder and they were there in no time.  They were, however, quite hard to get pictures of.  In fact, they seemed camera shy.  We could walk near the window and they didn't always fly away.  But, as soon as we tried to take a photo, they'd fly away.  I did get a few from a distance though.  I just zoomed in with editing to get a closer look.

Here's a wider view to see her lovely yard.  It's so green!

Here's one of the Cardinals.
See...he's looking at me and about to fly away!

There were lots of other pretty birds there that we do don't have at home. I just wasn't able to get pictures of them either.  Oh...and my daughter saw her first firefly!

My aunt had Passion Flower vines on her fence .  I'm always fascinated by them.
I posted this one on Instagram.  I used an effect but it really was purple.
Isn't it amazing?!

Hopefully, Ladybug won't mind me posting her picture.
She's my aunt's dog and she's such a sweetheart.

I finished knitting my Gap-tastic cowl while I was there. It was perfect timing too!  It may be summer but people and businesses seem to keep things extra cool in the south with AC's turned up high.  I actually wore it for a while in my aunts house.  Ahhh...it felt so good!  I'm happy to report that my handspun Merino yarn is very soft and not itchy.  Yay!  I posted this on Instagram that day...

I had to get a photo of this before we left.  It's an antique child-sized desk that someone gave to my aunt when she was a child.  My mom played with it as a child too.  And, I got to have it for a while when I was little.  I have great memories of having this in my room.

Our visit was short but wonderful!  After a day and a half we had to hit the road again for our next destination...New Orleans, Lousiana!  I'll start posting about that as soon as I can.
The hotel we are at right now has bad wifi and I am finishing this on my cell phone.   It is quite challenging...to say the least!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Road Trip, Day 4 - Austin, Texas

We didn't have very far to drive on the fourth day of our road trip.  So, we took our time that morning before hitting the road.  I did a little blogging while my daughter slept in a bit.  We headed out of Fredericksburg, Texas around 10am and arrived in Austin about an hour and a half later.
The drive was gorgeous!

First stop, Allens Boots!  Wow!  It had the biggest selection of Old Gringo brand boots
that I've ever seen.  In fact, there were more Old Gringo boots than I've seen in my entire life!

There were SO many gorgeous styles!  I just kept gasping as I pulled out different boots.  It would be hard to decide on just one pair!  I posted about it on Facebook and hubby quickly called me and encouraged me to buy a pair but I just couldn't decide and it would be hard to spend $400-$700 on a pair of boots!  So, just like in New Mexico, I settled for pictures....lots of pictures.  But, I'll spare ya'll and just post a picture of a pair that was probably my favorite.  Aren't they gorgeous?!

Boot love!

Austin prides itself in being "weird".  In fact, they have a saying, "Keep Austin Weird!"  They're not kidding!  We saw and experienced it and didn't like it.  Our first stop at Allens boots was in the South Congress Street area that's famous for weird shops.  There are plenty of weird people around there too!  We made sure to stop at Hill Country Weavers though before we headed out of that area.  Sadly, it was disappointing too.  Since it was a "weaving" store, I'd expected to see looms and weaving supplies.  However, the only loom I saw was a folded up loom in the break room!  And, the store smelled so strong of incense or perfume that it was making us nauseous.  We couldn't even stay long enough to look at the yarn.  We quickly headed back to our car and out of the area for some food and coffee.  Then, we headed up town to see the capitol.  That area wasn't crowded at all.
And, it was beautiful.  Here's the capitol of Texas...

It was surrounded with a lovely park.
I thought the iron fence was pretty with all of it's gold stars...

There was a cute, happy, little squirrel bouncing around in the grass...

 And, Grackles running around... 

We went into the capitol building for a look around.
The hardware on the door was beautiful...

The security inside was like at an airport.  We had to put our purses and cameras in a tub that went through an x-ray.  And, we had to walk through those scanner/x-ray things.  It was quick though as there weren't very many people visiting.  It was interesting and pretty inside.  There were inlaid designs on the floor.  

There was a huge rotunda (?) in the center.  It was beautiful!
I like the blue circle at the top with the star...

I took a photo from the highest level we could go but just couldn't capture it all.  It was so big!

The doorways were surrounded with ornate wood...


There were fancy stairways and balconies.
That's my darling daughter on the upper level.
We were takings photos of one another...

The capitals on the columns were gorgeous!...

I love the colors and details on the stairways...

After visiting the capital, we headed to the hotel a few blocks away to check in.
One of the things we were hoping to see there was the famous bats of Austin.  They live under the Congress Street bridge.  So, I reserved a room at the Radisson that was located right next to that bridge.  That way, if we had to walk at night, it would be close by.  It turned out that our room even had a view of the bridge and the river below...

After checking in, we headed down to the river trail for a look around.
There were bikers, runners and walkers.  It was a busy and popular place.

We even walked under the bridge but we couldn't see the bats living underneath.

We'd heard about a place that rents kayaks and bikes.  So, we headed over to check it out.
Unfortunately, they weren't renting any more that day.  Kind of weird since there were still several hours of daylight.  And, other places across the river kept renting for hours after.  Oh well.  It was worth the stop for what we got to see...a bunch of people carrying in a 65 foot boat!...

We'd never seen a boat like this in person.
It was quite tricky for them to maneuver it around the corners.

We followed them onto the dock and watched as they got ready, loaded in, and took off...

There was a guy in the front with a microphone headset that gave direction to everyone in the boat.
There they go...

Here's a view from the dock, looking back toward the hotels and downtown...

The concierge gave us a tip about a good barbecue restaurant down the street. 
It was "Iron Works BBQ" on the corner of Caesar Chavez/East 1st Street and Red River Street.
They have outdoor seating that we saw as we approached the corner...

The restaurant was right next to a canal...

It was in an old iron workshop...

It was rustic, charming, inviting, and very popular.  We waited in a line that went to the door.
Austin police were in line and there were photos on the walls of
presidents and celebrities that have eaten there.  The food was Good!
We even enjoyed the crispy, raw rings of onion that were included.
They were delicious with the BBQ sauce!

There was a "doggie bag supplies" area with paper and bags.  Fun and handy idea!

They sold bottle cozies.  We got a kick out of the middle/camo one that said, "invisible"...

We got our food to go so we could get back to the hotel and not chance missing the bats.
After we ate, we headed out to the parking garage that was open to the outside and seemed to be a perfect spot to watch for the bats.  It overlooked the river and the bridge.  Great views!
Here's a view looking south...

And, a view looking east/southeast...

Earlier that day we'd talked with someone in a store that said the bats were a "myth".
She said it's nothing like the photos you see online and that if they come out, they come out when it's dark and you can't see them.  Hmmm?  I asked the lady at the check-in desk at the hotel and she said that it's not a myth but she's never seen them.  Hmmm???  I asked the guy that helped to bring our luggage up to the room what he knew about the bats.  He said that they're real but that the females are pregnant now and finicky and we might not see them.  Oh!  Hmmm?!!  Well, we'd come to see the bats and that's what we were going to try to do.  So, we waited out there for hours.
We watched and waited...and waited.....  The sun went down and we waited...

The bridge was lined with hopeful bat viewers.
It got darker and darker.  We watched and we waited...

More and more boats were showing up in the water near the bridge
with people hoping to see the millions of bats...

The big, bat tour boats started shining red lights at the bridge.
Then, all of a sudden, we heard, "there they are!!!"  We looked up and could barely see a cloud of bats over the river and then they were gone...in a matter of seconds!  It turns out that they come out of the southeast side of the bridge, gather above and fly south....the opposite direction/side from where we were.  Oh well!  We had a lot of fun waiting, the views were beautiful, the weather was great, and we saw the bats....sort of.  We just couldn't get a picture of them because it was too dark.

While standing out there waiting, my daughter and I joked around about an Instagram post we could make.  She wasted no time in creating and posting it.  We got a lot of laughs from it...

We learned something interesting on this stop....that even if a hotel is expensive or has a name we associate with "nice"...it might not be as nice as something half the cost.  The place we stayed on our first night of the trip cost half as much but was SO much nicer.  The Radisson we stayed at on this stop was expensive and a bit disappointing.  It was a bit dirty and needed repairs.  It did the job though.  And, we loved the $10 per day credit we were able to use at the Starbucks in the lobby.
We made sure to use it both days!

We got some much needed sleep and headed out early the next morning for our next destination.
Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by!  :-)