Austin, TX is special to me; I spent my 25th birthday here and have a big ol’ smile on my face just recalling a night spent there. Every corner of Austin is filled with different music, different sounds, but annoyingly, of course I came to Texas and wanted to hear real and decent country music. Although I enjoyed the uniqueness and adorable peculiarity of Austin, we hoped to seek out a more characteristic experience of whatever “Texas” is. We pulled up to the honky-tonk dancehall of the Broken Spoke, meandered across the muddy parking lot and upon opening the door were greeted by some jumpy country rockabilly sounds. We grabbed a Shiner Bock, ate country fried steak and enjoyed the company and conversation of sweet people. From here I’ll never forget the sound of couples dancing two-step on the sandy dance hall floor.  This description doesn’t do it justice, but it was fun as hell. There’s no point in looking back, really, but it is fun sometimes.

While still fresh in my mind, rather than exploring new things, I sought to see all my favorite places again. I stayed in a nice and very accessible hostel, the HI, but in the morning it was very early that I grabbed myself some of the free bread, made myself a tea in the communal kitchen and set out for my day. South Congress is perhaps the most splendid small strip of shops I’ve ever found. I stopped into this store, praying they’d have another feather earring like the one I’d lost a few months ago and they did, I was so relieved. I popped into a book store, searching for two things, a copy of Jitterbug Perfume and a large wall map of the United States. They didn’t have the book in stock, but a woman working there ran out to her car and brought her copy in to sell to me. How kind and I prefer used to new books, anyway. I’ve yet to find the map, but when I do I plan to plot my route with my wood burner and frame it when I’ve returned home. It was in Uncommon Objects that I was dying to peruse about! This place has tons of the most unusual and beautiful things and an equally eccentric energy abides. I nearly bought this delightful lil’ monkey and couldn’t resist buying an old convict photo and some cool gifts for my sibling’s upcoming birthdays. I’m always a sucker for delicious pizza and the Eggplant Parmesean slice I had at Homeslice was beyond satisfying. I stopped into a café called Thrice where I enjoyed an iced cold Yerba Mate tea, the succulent on my table and writing for a couple of hours. To complete my day, I was pulled to my favorite bar in Austin, the White Horse, where there was an upbeat bluegrass band and a friendly dog who I think would have laid his head in my lap all night long. The owner was welcoming and bought me a shot of Whiskey. He apologized at the state and stench of the Port-a-Potty outside in the heat this time of year. I chuckled and just said honestly I wouldn’t think of entering it.

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IMG_2588 While it was hard to tear myself away from Austin, I had an exceptional place to stay at a cabin in Bastrop State Park. For $70 a night, less than some hotels charge, it was worth every penny. I had trouble finding the place and didn’t get here until after dark. Upon arriving at the lovely little cabin # 11, I immediately opened the windows and put on Gillian Welch. While I wanted to have a fire, but in this heat would have roasted, I just chilled out and watched the spiders busy about their webs. I get so turned around in the city that it was extremely grounding to relax in a place of such natural beauty. These places were built in the 1930‘s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, what a gift to our country, why is this not such a focus today? Places like this tie us to the earth in such enjoyable and elemental ways. It wasn’t until daylight when I realized what a beautiful place I’d come to. These cabins stud the Loblolly Pine forest, called the Lost Pines. They were almost lost too; there was a devastating wild fire about two years back that undeniably scarred the forest, but hadn’t completely compromised its beauty. I felt so silly to be in such a gorgeous place and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the ground. There’s red Sandstones strewn about that were just stunning. This was such a necessary escape and complimented my stay in the city so well.

I’m now at the Roadhouse, a hoppin’ little shack, munching on a tasty Avocado Pepperjack Grilled Chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries. I am looking at my new found stone collection and thinking about rocks, crystals, stones and touchstones. A stepping stone is all I really want this to be; a stepping stone to other’s adventures.