Welcome to the 2013 April A to Z Blogging Challenge! Today marks the first day of the challenge, and my “A” pick is the beautiful, friendly capital city of Austin, Texas.
I traveled to Austin for the first time right after Christmas in 2008. At the time, I was one of six candidates for two open positions on the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ Board of Regents. The results of the election wouldn’t be known until after January 1, 2009, and I had no idea I’d be elected. So, my husband and I had a vacation in the “Live Music Capital of the World.” (I would fly back to Austin in February of 2009, and the subsequent year, too, as a Regent for the ACFE).
There are guitars in the airport! How great is that? And in late December, we were treated to mild weather (enough to swim in the Hilton’s rooftop pool, although our friends thought we were crazy – hey, 60 degrees in December is pretty good for us New Englanders).
We had our first (and quite possibly only) chicken-fried steak at the Gristmill out in Gruene (“hand breaded and deep-fried, topped with cream gravy!”). Lone Star beer at Chuy’s. Fish tacos and Shiner Bock at the Hula Hut, and again at Iron Cactus. I’ve yet to find fish tacos as good as those in Texas, and I live in the Ocean State!
Talk about Texas pride. Oh, if only we Rhode Islanders felt this way about our little state (but sadly, we don’t). I took a walk around my friend’s neighborhood one afternoon and every house proudly displayed something about Texas: the state flag, the lone star (on a mailbox, flagstone, side of the house), the Texas Longhorns. The University of Texas football stadium holds 100,119 fans (the entire cities of Warwick and Newport combined). You want to support the Longhorns? Wear burnt orange. Who knew? I arrived in Austin wearing that color, purely by accident, and was welcomed as a native daughter.
Austin is unique. Growing. Different. If you think Texas is all about guns and cattle and Dallas, think again. “Keep Austin Weird” isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way of life for some Austinites. I’ve been there four times, and would return in an instant. Because I still haven’t been to Franklin BBQ, Stubb’s, or Lambert’s.