Once again, I’m so full my eyes are glazed – this afternoon, Lynn, Denis and I drove some 30 miles out of Austin to Lockhart, “home of the best barbecue in Texas and therefore the world.” And since there’s not that much to do in Austin, driving 30 miles to eat barbecue is important. The place was unprepossessing, to say the least, not what we expected at all – you grab a styrofoam plate and plastic cutlery and help yourself to stuff until you get to the sizzling barbecue department where they give you what you ask for.
I may never eat meat again. The quantities around us were overwhelming. A man and his young daughter sat down with a little bit of coleslaw, some potato salad, and a vast platter of brisket, sausages and several kinds of ribs. Caveman style. Which goes with the macho climate of this interesting state.
Backtracking slightly, to tell you about my trip here on Southwest Air – I was in the front row, and since the door to the cockpit was open before takeoff, I asked the funny flight attendant if I could take a picture of the control room. He went to ask the pilot, then beckoned me to the door and, as the pilot stood up and moved off, said, “Have a seat.” I climbed into the pilot’s seat and he took a picture of me grinning like a maniac. Before take off, the same guy made an announcement. “Please fasten your seatbelts extra tight, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “The pilot says he wants to try something new.”
Lynn and Denis picked me up at the airport – Lynn one of my oldest friends, from first year university, and Denis, the husband she met in France at the age of 20. We have travelled around France together many times, so it is surreal to be here in Texas with them. Lynn’s university in Montpellier has an exchange program with the university here, so she is teaching here for a term, and Denis has joined her for a few weeks; he’s leaving Tuesday. They drove me to my Airbnb room, which is okay, a big eccentric room in an apartment not far from Lynn’s. And then we went to Dann’s Depot, their favourite place, as authentic a country and western bar as you could find – incredibly friendly, cheap beer, great music – hurtin’ music – and dancing. An elderly fellow was having his birthday party there, wearing a giant flashing hat and bow tie, and his wife went to all the tables to invite everyone to have some birthday cake. “I made enough for a hundred,” she said.
People are extremely casual and friendly. Everyone says hello. One little nightmare for me – in Lockhart today, and in the small town we visited on the way, there were lots of vintage stores. Vintage is huge in Texas. And everything for sale in these stores seemed to be exactly what I’d thrown out of my mother’s condo just last month.
Though hot weather had been predicted, the day was cool and overcast until mid-afternoon when the sun blazed for a bit before disappearing again. Tomorrow, maybe rain. I have been gone four days, and I think I’ve gained five pounds – constant eating and almost no moving, except for the nature walk with Barbara. This must stop or I’ll have to buy a whole new wardrobe. And as you know, I only have a VERY SMALL SUITCASE.