« June 2013 | Main | August 2013 »

July 29, 2013

licking some salt in July

#1 son has been reading and writing on yelp.  while browsing there, he found out about Franklin BBQ here in Austin.  they've received a great deal of press lately, reported to be the best BBQ... .  He was excited to go try it.  but first, we freshed up on another notable brisket offering. 

Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX

smoke pit salt lick driftwood texas austin bbq 

bbq cut station salt lick driftwood tx austin

burnt brisket from salt lick driftwood 

the "burnt" cut was my favorite.  composed of the crispy end bits.... it's better than bacon!

black dress with white polka dots and red trim

wife and I had a date night.  I waited until she was dressed so I could follow her lead and selected my clothes to match.  I took her to my new favorite stop for cocktails and small bites, Bar Congress

this tiny room is tucked between Congress (restaurant) and Second BAR+KITCHEN

shishito peppers bar congress and a pimm's cup austin

that Pimm's cup is refreshing and packed with all sorts of fruits and vegetables.  it's like you get a cocktail and a salad at the same time.  the generous portion of blistered shishito peppers is only $5.

bar congress austin hamachi ceviche

my favorite was the hamachi ceviche! 

next week, FRANKLIN

July 22, 2013

"EPIC WEEKEND!" New Order ATX, 25 year Louisiana fig licker reunion.

I used to live in lousiana, and I fell in with this group.... 

epic weekend


25 year reunion starck capri


25 years between these two pics. 

epic new order weekend

mulberry happy hour beers austin

the guys all came to austin to see new order.  we started with happy hour at mulberry.

new order austin tx july 2013

epic weekend new order atx

but the most memorable moments from the "EPIC WEEKEND!" happened at the hotel. 

hotel hallway buffet

precious moments such as, the hotel hallway buffet!

hotel hallway buffet (rooms service to hall service)

hotel dude dogplie "I'm gonna make you my friend"

the all dude dogpiles.... "I want to get ON YOU!  I'm gonna make you my friend"

guy on guy on guy "i love y'all"

"I love Y'All!!"


or the time about 100 rowdy hotel guests took over the pool. 

hotel pool goes wild

the bartender called security.  he was threatening to shut the whole pool down.  never mind that they were doing about a thousand dollars worth of business an hour...  Nick (security guy) came out with his game face on.  he looked real angry.  let it be known that if there is any diving, people are getting kicked out.  funny thing about some people... you tell them they can't do something, and it only makes them want to do it more.

but then, all of us, new order reunion bromance guys, convenionteers, lobbyists and batchelorette parties.... we all started chanting "NICK! NICK! NICK!"  the guy couldn't help but to smile.  then one of the many bikini clad girls got out of the pool, dripping wet, and gave him a big hug.  then another girl asked for help getting some more drinks...  he was so popular and conflicted.  and then came the can openers, belly flops and cannon balls. 

*let it be known that my wife was not present and would not approve of our behavior*

no diving at the pool


Nick tried to regain control of the situation...  he was outnumbered and we had good a good excuse, "that wasn't a dive, I fell!  I'm poorly coordinated". later that evening, Nick walked through the hotel bar area, the whole room started chanting “NICK, NICK, NICK!” nick smiled, applied his palm to face and walked away.

shamu at the pool atx

there was all sorts of things going on in that tiny pool... much of NSFW.  but I did admire belly flop guy’s shamu act. 


yes, epic weekend.  CHEERS!


July 17, 2013

TRACE, Blitzen Trapper and Belle & Sebastian ACL Live

TRACE W Hotel Austin restaurant happy hour small bites $5 

the daughter and I stopped by TRACE for some pre show cheap and good happy hour eats ($5 per plate).  Executive Chef Nadine Thomas got word I was at the bar and made her way down to introduce herself to me.  the daughter was impressed and I was thankful.


I always show up early for a show I really want to see.  we stood there for over an hour before the first band took the stage.  and TAKE that stage they did!

blitzen trapper acl live austin 2013

Blitzen Trapper has a few songs that we really like.  the daughter likes to play Black River Killer on her guitar.  although we renamed the song Black River Fisherman so it's less troubling for her mother. 

I was really surprised as to how hard they rocked those songs!  a strong southern hard rock element to their live show.  they're a hard sound to nail down with descriptions, a bit hard rock, a bit folk grunge with a southern mountain man funk quality...  but they sounded great. 

belle and sebastian austin 2013 moody theater

I tried to keep my expectations low for Belle & Sebastian.  they have a large catalog with so many songs I wanted to hear.  and, they're a big band.  much to my surprise, they sounded better live than recorded!  and the show was great fun. 

belle & sebastian ACL live austin 2013

Stuart (lead singer) sang one song from down in the audience.  another song had a spoken word part performed by an audience member (dirty dream #2), and they even brought several people up on stage to dance along with them. 

audience dances on stage belle & sebastian austin texas 2013

I was worried that the daughter would become tired or bored, but it never happened.  she danced, clapped her hands, and laughed a lot.  as the house lights came on she HAPPILY exclaimed, "THAT WAS FUN!"

acl live moody theater austin


July 15, 2013

Bob Schneider in Zilker and water in the Blanco river.

blues on the green zilker park bob schneider

we had a nice picnic party in Zilker Park.  Bob Schneider provided the music.  a few other people had the same idea. 

bob schneider zilker park austin

we made our way to the texas hill country for the weekend.

leaning pear wimberley

enjoyed a meal at our favorite hill country foodie destination, the Leaning Pear.

leaning pear new wimberley

the good people at leaning pear are expanding.  the new building is nearly complete....

blanco river water level summer july 2013

we checked on the Blanco river, good clartiy and flow rate are for good times.

it may have been 102 outside, but we were nice and cool soaking in that river. 

blanco river soak

watermelon shakers with ginger syrup

summer at the cabin requires refreshments of watermelon juice and a bit of ginger syrup.

ancestor water tomato farm

#1 son has a summer tomato project.  He added some ancestor water

texas summer tomato project


the time I almost saw la luz

I had friends in town before my plane had landed.  I didn't get much time to recover from my two weeks of travel before I was out and about in ATX.

Papi Tino's HH east austin margaritas

took the guys to the east side, Papi Tino's for HH. 

papi tino's east 6th austin

we spent the rest of our evening at Hotel Vegas.  I was hoping to see La Luz

hotel vegas austin tx

big hands

"OMG, Look at the size of Y'all's hands!"

I spent a good bit of time chatting with the girls in the band...

la luz hotel vegas austin tx

but, at 1 AM the La Luz girls were still setting up; the email I received from transmission events said they go on at 10pm.  I had a long (one hour) walk ahead of me.  I finally gave up and started with one foot in front of the other (yeah, I still walk late at night)


July 10, 2013

San Francisco in a day

yeah, we did all this in about 24 hours...

slanted building san francisco tilted


as soon as we were checked in, kat and I took off on a brisk 3 mile walk up and down the hills.  trying to get to swan's oyster depot before they close at 5:30.  they're closed the whole week of july 4th... 

we stayed at the Sir Francis Drake, a Kimpton Hotel.  I remembered that Kimpton usually hosts a free wine social hour.  We have a friend that works near, he stopped by to join us. 

scala's bistro tim nugent kimpton sir francis drake

we found TV celebrity chef Tim Nugent working a Hula-hoop at the social hour.  he offered to take our pic with my iphone, WHILE HULA HOOPING!

photo by chef tim nugent

nice try chef!  maybe hula hoops and steady hand photography don't mix well?  show us what you can do in the kitchen while hula-hooping, there's a new reality show for ya: Top Chef, Hula-Hoop Challenge.

scala's bistro sir francis drake san francisco 

we grabbed a snack at Scala's Bistro at the hotel to feed the kids.  the squash blossom pizza with truffle oil was pretty good!  and, we got oysters!

oysters at E&O asian kitchen san francisco

kat and I stepped down the street to E&O Asian Kitchen.  We got Oysters!

sir francis drake beefeater

starlight room

we closed the night at the starlight room, managed a few moves...  but the trip was starting to slow us down.  that, and two V&T set us back $25. 

starlight room san francisco

sir francis drake hotel san francisco

#2 son was anxious to hit the streetcar early the next morning.  he'd noticed them just out front of the hotel the day prior.  he'd yelled "WHAT'S THAT!?  I WANT TO RIDE IT"

san francisco streetcar

and so we did.

san francisco street car trolley

streetcar came off the cable san francisco

we finally caught a streetcar, then it lost the cable.  they had to roll downhill to re-connect. 

san francisco streetcar personaliy

this guy was fun.  he played around and joked with everybody, especially the kids.

golden gate bridge peaking out above the fog in the distance.


streetcar ride, CHECK!

golden gate bridge under fog

saw the golden gate bridge, CHECK!


alcatraz, CHECK!

fisherman's wharf pier 39 from Fog Harbor fish co

Fisherman's Wharf: CHECK!

around noon, we were in the middle of Fisherman's Wharf.  that place is a tourist trap.  it was crowded and loud.  kat had to take a work conference call.  we finally found an alley where she could take the call.  the kids and I stood on the street and waited, 5, 10, 15 minutes.  the boys started to melt down.  one was bawling, "he punched me in the stomach".  I asked why?  "he punched me in the balls!"...  I paused and issued the bad news to #2 son.  "You can't knock somebody in the nads and expect to NOT be punched in the stomach".  these kids needed some food.  I used yelp to steer us away from the fishy tourist traps (most have two stars and 3 $ signs down there)

fog harbor fish co hostes star wars rebellion symbol san francisco

what are the odds.  I was walking into Fog Harbor Fish co when this girl complimented me on my jacket.  the guy next to her said "I was JUST going to say that!"  then she pulled back her hair to show that she had the same symbols as my shoulders, tattooed behind her ears.  my right shoulder matched her right ear, my left should matched the symbol behind her left ear.  it was my DESTINY, to dine at the Fog Harbor Fish Co. 

fog harbor fish house san francisco

Fog Harbor Fish Co.  this place saved the day!  we LOVEd it.  great food, great location, friendly staff...  and that $8 blue cheese garlic bread got the kids smiling again.  

fog harbor fish co oysters 

one hour later, kat came out of her alley!  she joined us at the Fog Island Fish Co, and we had oysters!

then we walked from pier 39 to pier 1, and then ferry building.

hog island oyster co san francisco ferry building

Hog Island Oyster Co, We had oysters!

#1 son enjoys an oyster

we decided we'd had enough.  we walked for miles, and had a long walk back to union square to get the car and head out of SF.  it was not to be. 

about 30 minutes into the walk, #2 son announces he needs to go potty, NOW.  we were in the financial district and didn't know where to turn.  then, we spotted this tight alley filled with umbrellas and tiny tables.  a quick witted hostess asked "would you like to join us for happy hour, we have $1 oysters"

belden taverna fidi san francisco

they treated us real well at the Belden Taverna

belden taverna san francisco

we had oysters!

beldern taverna happy hour san francisco FiDi

the daughter found none of this oyster and happy hour business amusing at all.  she just wanted to get some sleep.  the boys were still going strong.

chinatown gate san francisco

Chinatown: CHECK!

chinatown san francisco shopping

we stumbled through chinatown on the way back to the parking garage.  we'd been trying to buy the daughter something for her birthday.  she never wants us to spend any $ on her.  she'd refused every offer.  those boys always want lemonade, the daughter always orders water to save us money.  I think kat finally talked her into a scarf, the boys took the opportunity to get scarves in chinatown as well... I stood outside.  those shops are too cramped for me.

san francisco chinatown photo-bomb

chinese violin san francisco street musician

san francisco sunset

we're proud of these kids.  they walked nearly five miles this last day of vacation, and some of those roads in san francisco have a bit of an incline to them...

we spent our last night near SFO.  some friends met us for Szechuan food.  I ordered our beer in mandarin.  yeah, I can do that.

hand stretched noodles milbrae Yi Yuan szechuan

Yi Yuan Szechaun had great food with many selections I'd not seen before.  the service sucked, that that is sort of the norm in real chinese restaurants.  you end up waiting and waiting to pay for the food you ate.  it helps if you stand up and make things happen.  they will eventually take your $.  don't worry about all those tables that need bussing.

twisted chicken at Yi Yuan Milbrae

twisted chicken!  this was a new one for me.

mapo tofu szechuan milbrae sfo yi yuan

kat said my mapo tofu is better than theirs, I'd have to agree.  theirs was good, but mine is much spicier.

virgin air sfo to aus 

and then, on the 4th of july, we flew home.  virgin now has direct flights sfo-aus.  the plane was comfy and the seat prices are good!  something to think about...

Santa Cruz, like going home and up PCH 1

after a horrible flight back from HI (the seats on united are so close together you can't lean back, yeah, we fly coach, there's 5 of us!).  for the adults, it was mostly an uncomfortable sleepless night.  kids did better.  picked up our rental car and I drove over hwy 17.  kat still hates that drive. 

990 30th avenue santa cruz, ca

stopped by our old home.  this really confused #2 son, "really?  we used to LIVE HERE?"

capitola by the sea

Capitola was very near our old home, we went back for much needed cappuccino.

capitola by the sea california

we used to spend a lot of time in Capitola.  it was an easy bike ride from our home. 

we checked into the Hotel Paradox early, kat took a long nap.  The boys were anxious to get in that pool, I went with them.

poolside service at the hotel paradox santa cruz

Kat woke up refreshed.  we enjoyed pool side service.

we all loved the Paradox.  rooms are small, but this is probably the nicest option near downtown santa cruz. 

palomar santa cruz mexican tacos and oysters 

we took the kids to one of our favorite restaurants when we lived there.  the palomar was still delicious!  and it didn't hurt that it was happy hour...  we had oysters! 

flan palomar santa cruz 

it was the daughter's birthday, she got her favorite food, enchiladas.  she also got flan. 

soif santa cruz duck leg confit

we met up with some food and wine loving friends at one of our all time favorites Soif!  you know kat had the duck confit! 

soif wine bar santa cruz


oysters and champagne at soif wine bar santa cruz

we also had oysters!  they paired with some delicious champagne that had a strong limestone bouquet.  excellent!

it should be noted that one of our food/wine loving friends from austin was in Seattle, she was eating the same variety of oyster at nearly the same time.  from here on out, it was an online virtual oyster volley.  we'd eat oysters and post a pic, and she'd follow up with her oysters...  we might have a problem...

Shark's Tooth Beach (cove):

sharkstooth beach near davenport ca

sharkstooth beach santa cruz

yeah, I guess we're going down there.  I followed althought I wasn't really prepared to hike down the cliff and play in the surf and sand.

norcal beach hwy1

sharks tooth beach pch 1 hwy1

heavy surf sharks tooth beach norcal

shark tooth cove davenport santa cruz

Pescadero State Beach:

pescadero state beach

pescadero state beach

the daughter took off to explore the tidal pools.

Pescadero state beach ca

the boys went straight for the beach.

tidal pool pescadero beach

blue suede shoes

what a dumb-ass, blue suede shoes?  really?

starfish pescadero state beach

duarte's tavern pescadero

Duarte's, love this place.  I first came here nearly 20 years ago.... can that be right?  anyhow, I have an old T-shirt from that first visit.  it's starting to wear thin and has a stain or two.  I was hoping for a new one, but they were out of my size!  the boys got shirts and hats.  the daughter never wants us to spend any $ on her.  I can't say I left empty...

oysters and anchor steam duarte's tavern pescadero ca

OYSTERS!  and Anchor Steam!

we also had their strawberry rhubarb pie, wasn't as good as my dad's.

Montara State Beach:

pch1 hwy1 norcal montara state beach



July 09, 2013

Kona coast and the Volcano Nat'l Park (Hawaii, the BIG island)

huggo's on the rocks kona hawaii

we landed on the big island, and found ourselves saddled with hunger and thirst (no surprise there).  enjoyed some lunch at Huggo's.  I'll go ahead and say that most of my fears of high prices in Hawaii have been shattered.  we found most meals to be of similar cost/value as what we have here in Austin. 

poke hawaii huggo's on the rocks kona

we ate a lot of poke (pronounced POH-kay), raw fish in Hawaii.  EXCELLENT!

sheraton kona

we stayed at the Sheraton in Kona.  it's right on the water but there is no beach there, just big surf and sharp lava rocks.  they lei'd us at check in. 

sheraton kona water park

the Sheraton "resort" was a bit too nice.  the kids wanted to spend all their time in the pool there.  it had several different areas, a giant water slide and faux beach. 

kona shabu shabu

we'd enjoyed that hot pot back in honolulu so much, we tried shabu shabu (japanese hot pot).  sad to say, nowhere near as good as the Sweet Home Cafe and their Taiwanese hot pot. 

fresh tuna poke kona hawaii

guy cutting up fresh tuna at Da Poke Shack.  I'm here to say it, it was good!

Ray's on the bay Sheraton Kona Hawaii

Sheraton had a restaurant over the cliffs, Ray's on the Bay.  they aimed spot lights onto the water after sunset and attracted giant manta ray.

kona hawaii sunset from sheraton ray's on the bay

kona hawaii ray's on the bay sheraton

we reserved a table with a fire pit.

dragon fruit kona hawaii

we sampled dragon fruit from a local fruit vendor.  tasted a bit like kiwi, just a bit less flavor.

hawaii volcano park

ACTIVE VOLCANO!  it was belching smoke, sulphur gasses and fire!

lava sea hawaii

the steam column to the left is molten lava flowing into the ocean.

volcano steam vent

there were places where the earth opened up and vented steam from down below.

schuster on lava


sea arch hawaii volcano national park

sea arch hawaii volcano

standing near that edge made me nervous, not kat. 

hawaii lava flow over road

and the road was swallowed up by a lava flow.  we took off on foot from here.  kat hiked in for a while, stood at the edge of the cliff (no hand or gaurd rail) and she took video...

hawaii lava flow

lava hills

lava hike hawaii

young iphone photographer

snorkel kona hawaii

spent far too little time at Kua Bay, beautiful beach and great snorkeling location.

kua bay kona hawaii

kua bay hawaii kona

kua bay fish snorkel hawaii

snorkel dork kona hawaii

kua bay sea turtle hawaii snorkel kona

snorkel kona hawaii

red sea urchin kona coast hawaii

kua bay kona hawaii

kua bay kona hawaii

underwater dork hawaii kona swim


Hutzler 571 in Honolulu

we stayed with my brother and family while on Oahu.  He's in the military and we'd heard so much about budget cuts, we made an equipment contribution, the Hutzler 571!  no soldier should be without one!

soldier with his hutzler 571 banana slicer

#1 son was so excited!  He'd read so many positive reviews for the Hutzler 571 on Amazon.  he anxiously sliced up a banana once the Hutzler 571 was removed from its package.  then, he realized he'd used it upside down and mostly smashed the banana, not sliced it.  another life lesson learned, slow down and do things right, thanks Hutzler 571! 

oahu east side hawaii

east side of Oahu.

hawaii oaho east side

let it be known, in the month of June, year 2013, our kids enjoyed play time with every one of their cousins from BOTH sides of their family tree.  I don't know if we'll ever manage that again.

the niece really enjoyed playing with her cousins, especially #1 son.  she called him "the red brother".

she enjoyed holding his hand and dragging him around.  they move so fast, not easy to get a pic.

Duke's canoe club waikiki oahu hawaii

some things you just have to do, mai tai at Duke's on waikiki beach

rootbeer at duke's waikiki

he insisted that I take his picture with his root-beer.  I don't know where he gets these ideas. 

honolulu view

one of our good friends is from Hawaii, her parents hosted us for dinner at their beautiful mid century modern home way up the hill there in Honolulu.  Thank you very much!

the view of honolulu from diamond head

we climbed diamond head. 

north shore sea turtle

strolled a north shore beach and found a sea turtle napping.

hawaii sa turtle north shore oahu

north shore hawaii sea turtle

Aoki's shave ice north shore hawaii

shave ice at Aoki's (north shore).

sweet home cafe honolulu 

sweet home cafe honolulu taiwanese hot pot

Taiwanese Hot Pot from Sweet Home Cafe, don't miss it!

sweet home cafe hot pot honolulu

bring your own beer to Sweet Home Cafe, select your hotpot broth, sauces and grab veg/meat items to cook yourself.  it was SO GOOD!  the only downside with the BYOB, they want that table turning.  they let you know when they think it's time to move on.  they deposit this giant free shave ice dessert. 

free shave ice dessert at sweet home cafe honolul hotpot restaurant

as you can see, kat was enjoying her meal, taking her time and still eating when they plopped this beast down and started to clear the plates.  we will definitely go back, and move our hotpot a bit quicker. 

July 08, 2013

Gordon Ramsay west hollywod

we went to Hollywood, stumbled upon a Gordon Ramsay eatery on the roof of the London Hotel West Hollywood.  a great view from the rooftop pool and dining area.

gordon ramsay rooftop west hollywood london hotel

we really enjoyed it! 

rooftop by gordon ramsay at the london hotel west hollywood

gordon ramsay hot dog

yes, the daughter ate every one of those raw jalapenos! 

then off to the airport, we thought we were on time.  we'd purchased our tickets four months in advance.  in that time, they moved the flight time, 30 minutes sooner.  we were stopped at the boarding gate during final boarding, but they had already begun giving our seats away. 

american airlines gave our seats away 

we watched as they called five names, handed them boarding passes.  we watched our plane flying away. 

we found ourselves with 5 hours to kill in LAX.  that airport is stuffy and crowded.  there was fierce competetion to find a USB charging station.  we found a work around, plug in the laptop to the open USB, that gave us 4 USB ports. 

the gate was filled with angry AA customers that had been bumped and waiting to get out of LAX, the flight had been delayed by almost 4 hours.  then a happy pilot with a lei around his neck addressed the crowd, "I know you're all unhappy.  but they brought us in, THE A TEAM IS HERE!  WE ARE, GOING TO HAWAII!!"  and so we did. 

another family expansion (wedding)

our SoCal trip was prompted by a marriage. 

westlake village inn california

it was a great opportunity for the kids to play with their SoCal cousins.

kat was disappointed when #1 son explained he forgot to pack his dress shoes.  she was further disappointed when she found them in his luggage two days later.  the 80's era vans sort of made the suit. 

the girls are growing up. 


lovely wedding happy hour at the stonehaus.

traditional chinese tea ceremony wedding


traditional Chinese wedding tea ceremony.

traditional chinese wedding tea ceremony

the wedding went late into the night.  I don't speak mandarin, so much of it was lost on me.  the entertainment was provided by guests.  the kids were able to participate, and there was a lot of karaoke too...  till almost midnight. 


I really enjoyed the traditional chinese band, the bride was part of that group.  they really rocked! 


LAX, Beverly Hills to Westlake Village

summer vacation stop #1

lax terminal from inside airplane

mid sized sedan rental car with 5 delsey carry on luggage in trunk

all five suitcases DID fit into the trunk of a mid sized rental car, just barely.

south beverly drive honor bar

we had the morning coffee and croissants in Beverly Hills followed by a great lunch at the Honor Bar

honor bar beverly hills lunch

their kale salad is REALLY good, the chicken sandwich too...  can't complain about the stella, taking that edge off.

barney's new york beverly hills

walked around the corner and stopped by Barney's New York.  A friend of mine is the Prada specialist there.  we used to work in men's fashion back in the  late 80's (dallas)

prada specialist at barney's new york beverly hills

ronald reagan suite at westlake village inn

checked into our Hotel - Westlake Village Inn, they gave us the Ronald Reagan Presidential suite!  SWEET!

ronald reagan presidential suite at westlake village inn california

swimming pool at westlake village inn ca

enjoyed a few laps in the pool, then we enjoyed the Stonehaus for pizza and wine flights.

stonehaus westlake village inn ca

patio at regan suite westlake village inn ca

closed the evening with chardonnay and pork rinds on our patio, I'm sure Ron and Nancy would've done the same.