We were told we had to see Austin…and in seeing Austin we now see why.
Through Couchsurfing we met Scott, through Scott an amazing community. “The Compound”, as it was affectionately nicknamed, was a collection of six homes, a couple BBQ pits, and a swimming pool in the hills of Austin. We stayed the first two nights in our van, but soon met Jon and Lana who offered us their spare room. In return we did our ‘Slattery special whole house scrub down’.
With this group of friends we quickly found something to do every night. If someone in the group wasn’t performing at a live venue, there was a BBQ being thrown on the front lawn, or a group hike to the “green belt” and a swim in Bouldin Creek. There was never a lack of unique activities or amazing people to spend your time with. The spirit of Austin really is one of community.
Soon after arriving in town we decided to give up stocking our fridge and explore the hundreds of unique and healthy restaurants in Austin. We found Spider House to be one of our favorites of the many eclectic coffee shops there. A community in itself, it occupies more than a whole square block of town. It consists of several different serving areas, a performance venue (where they were practicing fire twirling,) an outdoor free cinema, a video rental store, and organic t-shirt shop. It was the kind of coffee house compound we can only dream about with property costs in LA. We met the friendly owner who took time to give us some advice and ideas about creating this kind of community venue.
I, having worked at several Whole Foods, was excited to visit the flagship store in Austin. WF was born in Austin the same year as me, and the original founder, John Mackey, still shops there. Many people may not realize that Mackey opened the first vegetarian market in all of Texas in his garage in Austin all those years ago. He has since obviously done very well, but only takes a $1 a year salary and has donated all his stock to charity. We ate at this original location one night, buying a smorgasbord of food and a bottle of wine before enjoying it under a starry sky on the roof of the store.
Austin was definitely my favorite city so far, and if it had an ocean with surfable waves I’d probably still be there. But California is calling and as the sun moved so slowly to the west…so did we. -Ryan
To see more pictures from Austin, and the rest of Texas, click here.