It really feels Like a Whole ‘Nother Country…(Texas that is).

I had a business trip to Austin, Texas this past April and I was a little nervous. I hadn’t traveled by plane with my chair for quite awhile. The last time (10 years ago) I arrived fine but my chair somehow got a bent rim. Off to the airport I went. After checking in and checking in my chair on to my gate and down the jet-way I went to my seat, right up-front (the joy of flying South West, people in chairs go on first and sit up front).  After a four hour flight my chair greeted me at the plane door. I looked it over twice and it was fine! Boy was I happy. The first part of the trip was a success, the plane ride for me and my chair.

The Austin airport is nice, bright and airy, perfect for wheeling around. After a brief tour of the city by my friend we went and had a nice dinner at Chuy’s in Austin. The restaurant was totally accessible for me, from the parking lot to the large dinning room. One thing I noticed while deciding on my dinner plans Austin has many, many mom and pop restaurants, from Cuban, Mexican. Tex Mex and of course Texas barbeque its all there.

The next few days I had some sales calls and had no trouble navigating the sidewalks or buildings in Austin.  Austin has a hip high tech feel to it. Lots of hi tech company are located in or near Austin. One day I wanted to get the feel of Austin so I ate at the “Broken Spoke” saloon. It has a dirt parking lot but, with some effort its worth going inside and having a bowl of hot (spicy hot) chili. The Broken Spoke is an old time Honky Tonk that hasn’t changed in years, and I mean years, O’ and the chili was good.

That night I hit South Congress Ave in Austin. Food, shopping, music clubs and a good vibe from all the people walking up and down the strip. I heard music coming from a club up the street so I stopped in. It was the “Continental Club.” It was a cool club, no polish or shine just a bar and stage, no frills. A country band was playing and I spent a few hours listening and watching the locals dance.

The following day it was off to the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City Texas, about one hour or so from Austin. Riding to Johnson City in the car the view was excellent. You can see for miles and miles and now I know why people say “it’s like a whole ‘nother country.” Arriving at the LBJ Ranch you go to the welcome center and get your CD guide to play in the car as you tour around the approximately 1,570 acres of the LBJ ranch. The CD directs you to LBJ’s family home, show horse stables, jet run-way and his adult home known as “The Texas White House.”

After driving around the ranch you can stop at the LBJ museum on the property and see LBJ’s history along with his collection of automobiles. Parked along side of the museum and family house is the jet that LBJ used to go back and forth to Washington D.C. You can also take a guided tour of LBJ’s house of which I did. All of this is very accessible by wheelchair with a series of ramps in and out of the house. It felt like a time capsule going through LBJ’s house. Everything was laid out exactly as it was back in the late 60’s.

After the LBJ ranch I got a tip on a good restaurant from one of the park guides and it was only fifteen minutes away in Stonewall called “Lindigs Café.” I tried Texas fried steak for the first time there and I must say, it  It wasn’t bad I must say.

The next day I headed back to the East Coast really liking Texas and its wide open views, nice people. It’s very accessible in the parts I was in so that made the trip that much better. On the way home we stopped at Lake Travis, which is a reservoir on the Colorado River in the middle of Texas. It is the largest out of seven other reservoirs, stretching 65 miles (105km) and is used for flood control, water supply, electrical power generation and recreation. 

More ideas from an Austin local…

Big Events:

March- every year around spring break there is the SXSW music/interactive media/film festival for about 10 days. It brings in up and coming people in entertainment and technology, as well as well-known bands, actors, and tech folks (like Mark Zuckerberg a few yrs ago). Each bar/restaurant in downtown features live music through the week so you can either buy a badge for several hundred/thousands or you can just go to a few shows and pay cover.

August-November UT football is a fun thing to see even as a visitor. Tailgating is huge and the whole city focuses on the game for the weekends when we play here at DKRoyal Stadium

September- Austin City Limits Festival is a three day music weekend with all kinds of genres in Zilker Park. 

Places of Note:
Downtown Austin Areas:
  • South Congress Avenue ( “So Co”)
  • Rainey Street Neighborhood with new fun bars and food trailers (Icenhauer’s, G’Raj Majal, Clive Bar)
  • 2nd Street District (shopping)
  • West 6th Street (bar district for young professionals mainly)
Restaurants to Try:
  • TRIO at the Four Seasons (expensive, but has amazing Happy Hour with 1/2 price wine
    and apps right on Lady Bird Lake)
  • Olivia (on South Lamar) for dinner or brunch
  • Torchy’s Tacos, Hut’s Hamburgers, Pluckers= the best casual, gameday, easy takeout food
  • Franklin BBQ sometimes has an hour or more wait and it’s some of the best BBQ I’ve EVER had
  • Vivo or Trudy’s Texas Star for the best Tex-Mex
  • Koriente is an excellent healthy choice for lunches and has incredible service
  • For healthier fare I also like Mr. Natural and Mother’s Cafe- tons of vegetarian and vegan options
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