Sunday, December 6, 2009

I told you yesterday we woke up to wonderful, sunny weather.

Today was the opposite of that. I parted those lovely, hotel blackout curtains to the rainiest, dreariest, nastiest looking day... it was pretty disappointing.

Still, we had places to go and things to see, so we made the best of it. We started the day at a local breakfast joint called Kerbey Lane Cafe.

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You want "The Best Breakfast in Austin"? Have it here.

Michael and I both picked pancakes. I had the apple wheat variety (which actually had chunks of apple in them, yum!), and Michael had gingerbread pancakes, which were simply delicious. Neither really needed syrup, but syrup made them all that much more amazing. The pancakes were tremendously filling, though. Neither of us could finish even the short stack (only two pancakes). So if you go, order accordingly! :)

After breakfast, we decided to hit up the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum. We have never been to a presidential museum before, and had heard good things about it.
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In the end, we were impressed with the size of the museum, and the amount of artifacts they had on display. It was interesting to learn so much about President Johnson--from birth, through his presidency, and even to his death.
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We browsed around for a few hours. I didn't take many photos, since it's a museum and all, but we really enjoyed it.
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Upstairs, they had a replica of the Oval Office from when Johnson was president. All of the furniture is his actual furniture.
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On this same floor, they also had an exhibit area dedicated to Lady Bird. Information about her had been spread throughout the chronological display of Johnson's life on the lower floor, but this space was dedicated to her. They had a replica of her office, too:
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On the way back downstairs, we stopped on a floor that had a special exhibit, "From School to the White House," that showcased class photos, report cards, book reports, and other items from some of our presidents' school days. It was a neat addition to the things we had already seen.
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Also on this floor were two gallery walls featuring portraits of all of the first ladies throughout our history, and also portraits of all of our presidents.

From this floor, you can also look up and see some of the floors that are not accessible to the public. Instead, they are filled with Lyndon Johnson archives. It was pretty amazing to look and see HOW MUCH STUFF they have, all about Johnson. Impressive, I tell you.
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We took a few more photos...
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...and then we were on our way.

Since the presidential library is located on the UT campus, we took a quick ride over to the football stadium.
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Sadly, it was pretty boring, given that there wasn't a football game or anything.

Our next stop was to tour the Texas State Capitol Building. It's a good thing I got those beautiful photos yesterday, because today? Well, see for yourself...
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...Pretty blah, huh? :(

Thankfully, the weather didn't mess with the scenery inside.
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Looking up into the dome is pretty cool.
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We walked up to every floor and explored. There actually wasn't too much to see.
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But the space for the House of Representatives was festive.IMG_5238rs by heatherdrive.
The State Senate was not so festive.
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And it was fun to check out the view from each of the floors.
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This is a photo looking down over the top railing, at the flights of stairs below.
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Top floor.
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Another view of the dome (from top floor).
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Since the Capitol didn't take us as long as we anticipated, we had a little extra time on our hands. Michael said he wouldn't mind having a beer somewhere and watching a little football, so we ended up at 3rd Base (the place we tried to go last night for the Longhorns game, but it was too crowded) for a few drinks.

Once we finished up there, we stopped back at the hotel for a bit before heading out to dinner.

We figured that since we're in Texas, we had to have Texas barbecue. Michael had done a little research and found a little "dive" called Green Mesquite that had been featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It had a reputation for good food, so as Texas BBQ rookies, we decided to put it to the test.
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I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and their fresh-cut french fries, while Michael had a sandwich that combined pulled pork with beef brisket. For sides, he tried the fried okra and cole slaw. Everything was excellent. Seriously tasty. It was definitely not fancy, but who needs fancy when you have good food?

We heard on the news this morning that they were lighting the tree at Zilker Park tonight. We didn't go for the actual lighting ceremony, but Green Mesquite was close to the park, so after we ate, we took a drive over there. It was nice because much of the crowds had dissipated.
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It is my understanding that this is a "must-do" among Austinites. They love their Zilker Park tree! I guess that there is usually a "trail of lights" or something of that sort, with a much bigger light display. But this year, the City of Austin had to cut corners in the budget and did away with the trail of lights. It's just the tree this time.
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Still, it was fun to be among the natives of Austin, enjoying something they enjoy. And you know Michael and I are suckers for all things Christmas. Especially lights.
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Here's the view from inside the middle of the "tree," looking up.

With that, we called it a night. Just a few more hours in Texas tomorrow before we head back home.


Elizabeth December 10, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

I adore your photos from inside the capitol building - such great angles!

I was wondering if you could tell me/us what settings you had your camera on for taking photos of the Christmas lights. We walked around our neighborhood last night and I was trying to take pics of some of the lights and just got frustrated.


Heather December 10, 2009 at 4:29 PM  

Thanks, Elizabeth.

You have to have a steady hand (or a tripod) and set your camera at an extremely low shutter speed. Like 1/5 of a second, or even longer.

Rachelle December 11, 2009 at 6:12 PM  

Kerby Lane ... Green Mesquite ... Third Base ...

Three of the BEST places in Austin! SO glad you got to experience these!!! (We actually had ALMOST the same day on Sunday... No museum for us, though... church instead... Austin is by far one of my favorite cities!!!)

Alison December 12, 2009 at 2:13 AM  

It was so much fun to read about your trip to Austin... I live in Dallas now, but went to school there. So glad y'all had a good trip!

Beside the regional Frito Pie business, it also cracked me up that you referred to Kerby as a "breakfast place"... let's just say it's 24 hour and I don't think I saw it in the daylight once during my college years :)

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