Various items, dateline AUSTIN

In our rush to go from Florida to Texas, we covered about 750 miles over two days, finally ending up in Austin TX.  Our plan is vague: hang out here for a few days while waiting for the weather to clear.  Then we’ll head down to Corpus Christi and camp on the beach.  Meanwhile, we are doing a few favorite things …

blue-bell-creamery.jpgItem: Along Rt 290 on the way Austin, in the town of Brenham, you can tour the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory. We were delighted to find that they have a special lot just for RVs, but our luck stopped there: no factory tours on the weekends.  Still, there was a “virtual tour” (a movie) and of course an ice cream bar that we couldn’t resist.

Item:  Whole Foods has a mega store in downtown Austin less than a mile away from our campground. Eleanor cannot resist the place, with its massive, exotic, and sexy (to a foodie) inventory.  We spent two hours and came away with a smorgasbord of delights, heavy on the desserts and cheeses this time.   Last night’s dinner was bluefish with a homemade mustard sauce, followed by an assortment of little desserts.

Item:  Zilker Botanical Park is also very near, is free, and has a wonderful Japanese garden that was really inspirational to us.  Next year we’ll be converting our blank backyard into something attractive and usable, and with ideas gathered at Zilker our plans are starting to gell.

Item:  The state capitol of Texas is worth seeing.  It’s huge, thanks to a massive underground expansion on the north side.  There’s also a good state capitol visitor center nearby.  All free.  Photographic opportunities are limitless, but regrettably I didn’t bring my camera.

Item:  Texas barbecue remains our favorite in the country, hands-down.  Today we drove out to the small city of Taylor for a late lunch at Louie Mueller’s with our friend John.  It’s about an hour’s drive from Austin, so to make the trip even more worthwhile we took home two pounds of beef brisket from Mueller’s, and two pounds of turkey sausage from Vencil Mares’ Taylor Cafe.

round-rock-shaved-ice.jpgOn the way back from Taylor, along Rt 79 in Round Rock, we spotted yet another Airstream-turned-food-stand.  Rock-A-Billy’s is a relatively new one, established 2009.  Too bad it was closed when we went by; a little shaved ice would have been just the ticket after barbecue.

We’ve got two days left in Austin, which is hardly anything for a town as interesting as this one.  Extending our stay is not feasible if we are going to make the side trip to Corpus Christi, so we’ll just have to make do with the time we have.  At this point we have towed the Airstream 6,500 miles since we left Tucson in May, and we have approximately 1,200 miles left to go, and just 10 days before our hard stop date in Tucson.  I can feel the time pressure and that’s a drag.

In the Maintenance Department, I am pleased to note that our experiment with tires has been a glorious success so far.  We have towed the Airstream about 8,000 miles on the new Michelins that I bought in January, and have suffered not one puncture or tread separation.  On the Goodyear/Carlisle/Green Ball/Trailer King/Power King/etc.   ST (Special Trailer) designated tires that we used formerly used, we would have had at least one or two failures in this amount of mileage.  The Michelin LTX LT tires even hold air pressure better.  I haven’t had to adjust the air in months. Better still, I can’t see any wear in the deep tread of the Michelins.  I’ll measure them precisely when we get back to Tucson.

crazy-battery-warnings.jpgLast item. I got a new battery for my MacBook Pro because the two year-old battery in died an early death.  This was much harder than it needed to be, because Apple has designated my laptop battery as obsolete.  (By that measure, my shoes are obsolete as well.  I’m lucky I can still get shoelaces for them.)  Thus the battery can’t be purchased in Apple stores.  I found it in Apple’s online store at $129 and through various third parties at about half that price.  I bought mine through a re-seller for $65, and it came with this helpful warning (click the image for a larger view).  I have refrained from nailing the battery to a wall because I was warned, and instead I put it in my laptop where it is working perfectly.