I ended up in Austin on a whim. I left Carlsbad Caverns (really amazing by the way) and headed down to the I-10. It didn't take me long to get bored of the rushing 80 mile (130km) speed limit on the endless straight road that vanished on the horizon. I looked at the map and saw Austin was to the north and I could take a few secondary highways to get there. A friend had told me the city has a great music and art scene so I thought, what the hell.
Consequently those highways were just as dull but they did occasionally cross through a small town posted to have 1000 people or so but all I could see was the odd closed gas station or abandoned corner store. Texas is big! I pretty much had no interest in this state until I hit Austin. Now I'm in love.
I found my way to an RV spot but they were all full for the night. A woman who lived there advised me to park on the side street, "people do it all the time" she said. So I have been using that street as my home base for the past couple of nights and it's great because it's free! It's also parked next to a food camper serving crepes. It's nice to let the van stay put for a while and take a break from driving. It is within walking distance to the coffee shop I'm in now, a market and a huge off-leash dog park where Okie can pretend to be tough and then run under my feet if another dog shows interest. This has to be the most dog friendly place I've ever been and I it's really easy to meet people in the park with her. She's very social with people but not so great yet with dogs. We're working on that.
Austin seems like a very vibrant and friendly city. Everyone is out either jogging, biking or walking their dog. They are big supporters of the local food movement and are some of the friendliest people I've ever met. People actually smile at you when you walk by. Ok, it's probably Okie they are smiling at but that works too. Everyone I've met so far is from somewhere other than Austin. When I ask them why they moved here the answer is always something o the effect of, "It's a live-and-let-live place. Everyone is really relaxed". Unfortunately I can see some changes coming with the 100+ people I was told move here every week...or was it day? Anyway, growth of a city like this may not be the best thing, but that's how things go.
And here's the strange part. To add to the many crazy cosmic-like things that have happened to me on this trip I had a pretty cool thing happen last night. I was looking for the east area of town to visit some studios as part of their East End Art Tour. I got slightly turned around and ended up on a very lively street full of bars, shops and food trucks. Then this loud big band swing music floats up from down the street so I headed towards it. It was an event linked with an art tour put on by the Bagavagabonds. I won't bother getting into all the details of what these guys from LA did (click on the link) but it was pretty great. There was music, drink and art from local artists, all free! What they did raise from the auction of the local work was being donated to charity. And the theme of the show? Migration! It was all about artists traveling. I mean, seriously!? I immediately met Amanda who was working there and I blurted out my story to her ending with, "isn't it amazing I should end up at this event?" She agreed and became my partner in crime for the night. There was lots of beer to be had and I had a great time spending $0.
I met a couple of the members of the Bagavagabonds and our conversations left me with lots to think about. I barely slept. I am very inspired by what they put together and am so fortunate to have stumbled upon them on this trip.