January gave us such a nice introduction to the new year. The transition from vacation back to life on the road can throw me for a loop sometimes, but there were so many pleasant things throughout the whole month, and our re-entry felt very easy.
We had jobs in both San Antonio and Austin, two places we always wanted to visit when we actually lived in Texas. Besides exploring, we were able to get together with an old friend of Jan Michael's (who brought us pineapple turnovers!) as well as friends from high school (who cooked us dinner and let us love on their pit bull Daisy!). We are fans of real life, face-to-face connections, homemade dessert, and snuggling sweet dogs - all things we're rarely able to do out here - so both evenings were wonderful treats.
We also spent two weekends in hotels with Targets nearby, and I took full advantage of the proximity. The way I prefer to spend an early Saturday morning is this: rising before the sun, drinking a bunch of coffee, and then going to Target (or Hobby Lobby or Old Navy etc etc) right when it opens and meandering around without having to fight crowds or worrying about where in the world I will park our behemoth of a truck. The Targets I visited each had fully stocked Dollar Spots and I found darling bits and bobs to mail out for Valentine's Day. I also found a fantastic Def Leppard t-shirt and an equally fantastic Montana sweatshirt, neither of which were the correct size, so too bad for me. I will look again at the next Target we come across 😊
What else? We found a few local holes-in-the-wall in several of the towns we stayed in, with really good food (spinach enchiladas! fried pickles! vanilla malts!). And we spent a good bit of time outside on the weekends, which always makes us happy.
Jan Michael knew some of the story behind the Alamo and the battle that was fought there, while I knew nothing, and our visit was very interesting. I feel like we gained some insight as to why Texans are so enthusiastic about Texas 😊 Admission is also free, which was astonishing, especially considering the $120 we paid across the street for entry into Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium and the Guinness World Record Museum. (What a colossal waste of money; I'm the one who made that decision and I had buyer's remorse two seconds after I handed over the credit card.)
At the River Walk, so much of the flora and fauna was dead, but there wasn't a horde of people to fight through, either - the pros and cons of visiting in the winter.
The capitol building in Austin is gigantic and stately, and that spindly spiral staircase at the top of the cupola makes me nervous. The figure on top of the dome is the Goddess of Liberty; the original was installed in 1888 and then replaced by a replica in 1986. Evidently lots of men have boasted about their lady loves being the model for the original, although no women have ever made such a claim, at least on the historical record 😊
We also spent part of a Saturday morning at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. There are 15 presidential libraries across the country; they are fascinating and we'd like to visit as many as we can. Besides such a huge amount of information about LBJ and his administration, we were able to see an exhibit called Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole library and I'll add a link so you can read about it yourself.
As for the outdoors, Barton Springs Pool is filled with water from a nearby spring. It's deep (18 feet at its maximum) and fairly warm (between 68 and 74 degrees), and is used no matter the season - as evidenced by the guy swimming laps at the beginning of January (while we walked around in our winter coats, ha!). It was fun to see Austin's skyline in the distance; I bet the city lights on hot summer nights look really neat.