We were up early this morning. I think Max is still on East Coast time, which is an hour ahead of here. He wakes up about 6:20 and starts asking (politely) to go out. This morning was no exception; by 6:25 we were outside walking around the perimeter of the hotel parking lots. In our two nights there, we have discovered there are three feral kittens living on the grounds. Max would really like to get to know them, but the kittens are really skittish.
By 8:15, we were downstairs checking out, and soon heading over to South Congress for my last breakfast at Magnolia Café. After breakfast, we hit the dog park and Max had a great time for about an hour. It was overcast and cool in Austin this morning, so I didn’t feel too bad about heading out.
I needed Vanessa the GPS gal to help me navigate out of Austin, but after that I knew what routes I wanted to follow. We headed west on 290 towards Fredericksburg, and once we had cleared the Austin city limits, it was a wonderful two lane drive. We ended up taking a detour to Blanco, which in hindsight we could have skipped. But again, the road was through some lovely Texas Hill Country – lots of ranches, rolling hills, scrub pines. I was surprised to see how many ranches have goats rather than cattle; we saw an Emu and Ostrich ranch but not the birds themselves, and one buffalo ranch.
Leaving Austin was bittersweet for me. It was the first big trip that Rufus and I took 15 years ago, so it held a lot of memories. Even driving in the Hill Country was an emotional reminder. We went out to the Pedernales and to Enchanted Rock on that trip – taking a fabulous picnic from Whole Foods. And Magnolia Café was Rufus’ favorite breakfast place, so my two mornings there were a bit of a heart wrench too.
It was good to be on the two lane road, driving through beautiful country, with hardly any traffic – especially after Austin’s rush hour traffic last night on my way to meet Missy and Leah at Spider House Café!
Fredericksburg is an interesting town, with a broad main street that has two lanes in both directions and diagonal parking on both sides of the street. The street is lined with little shops, restaurants, ice cream, wine tasting rooms, and it was filled with lots of people today. In spite of all its gentrification, it still holds a small town Texas charm. With the temperature around 71 degrees, and the sun shining, it was a pretty fine day to be out and about.
Max and I walked up and down the main street, checking out the shops and being checked out by passersby (Max, that is!) He met a couple of dogs, and a horse! The horse was a 1/2 life-size statue, about 40 inches at the shoulders, standing outside a main street shop. Since he already had experienced the mules in New Orleans, he was pretty leery of this new guy. When I put my hand under the horse’s chin and said, “Look at this. He’s OK!” he finally braved touching his nose to the horse’s flank.
Meanwhile, a little crowd had gathered to watch, and the shop owner had stepped out the door, saying, “I love to see their reactions!” Max stood up on his hind feet so he could do a little nose-to-nose with the horse, and everyone laughed. I wish I could have gotten my camera out to get a photo, but sometimes it’s not meant to be.
As we walked, I spotted some really cool hand-painted shoes in a shop window, and vowed to go back and check them out after lunch. Finding an outdoor eatery wasn’t as easy as I expected, but we did find a little bakery café just off the main drag, and I had a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado (which I expected to be IN the sandwich, NOT on the side!).
When we got to the café, a table of four people started talking to me about how much they love standard poodles, how beautiful Max is, etc. We all had a nice chat, and I left cards with them – I hope the read it and enjoy following us along the trail.
After lunch, I loaded Max into the car and zipped around the corner to the shop with the shoes… The shoes are handmade and hand-painted by a husband and wife in Arizona, and are not only fun to look at, the leather is incredibly soft and supple.
I felt a little bit like Cinderella’s stepsisters as I tried to fit my feet into two different pairs of shoes that I liked. The saleswoman told me that I could order shoes in my size, in any of the styles they had. I really liked a pair with crows painted on them, and ended up ordering them in my size:
A few years ago on a trip to Italy, I found a shoemaker in Panzano who made shoes to fit your feet, but they were so expensive I wouldn’t order them. I’ve always kicked myself for it, and these shoes – while not the same – are affordable and will make me smile every time I lace them up.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. More driving through beautiful Hill Country. Finally onto I-10 West and making tracks towards the sunset, shocked to discover that the speed limit was 80 MPH! Tonight, we’re in Sonora, Texas with a long way to go to New Mexico…