Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, November 2, 2015

New Friends and Barbecue

At La Fiesta RV Resort, Austin, Texas...

When we pulled into our site, we were cheerfully greeted by Steve and Jackie, a fulltiming couple from Ohio whose fifth wheel occupied the adjoining site. We struck up a conversation right away, delighted to have these friendly folks as neighbors. They invited us to sit down and visit outside their rig, and we instantly felt as though we had known them for a long time. They said they were thinking about making Texas their home, and we told them they would make good Texans, based on how friendly they were. After ten years of RV travel, I still can't figure out how it is that folks in the RV community are so pleasant to be around. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few. It must have something to do with the fact that the RV experience brings freedom and fun instead of work and worry. 

Steve and Jackie are thinking about upgrading their RV, and we've had fun extolling the virtues of a motorhome, giving them a tour of Phannie and answering their questions. 

We were pretty much kept indoors by the rain during our first day in Austin, but then we headed out for downtown, where we felt obligated to visit the legendary Franklin's BBQ. The owner, Aaron Franklin, became interested in cooking barbecue as a backyard chef, then buying a food truck after perfecting his technique. Then he graduated to his current ramshackle restaurant in downtown Austin. 

Franklin's on a Sunday when closed. Normally a line snakes down the sidewalk and into the parking lot.
He soon became somewhat of a phenomenon, with TV appearances on national networks. PBS even did a series on him. He is famous for his brisket, on which he uses a rub of classified spices and then smokes it over low heat for an unheard-of 18 hours. The result is a dark, crusty and tender piece of meat with a smoky flavor throughout. I think it was the best I ever ate.

We got quite a surprise when we placed our order, which was for two sandwiches, two ribs and a side of potato salad. Sandy mentioned to the meat cutter that we were from out of town and, without comment, he included extra portions of all the meats they serve, including sausages and pulled pork. When we moved to the cashier, she asked if we preferred banana pudding or pecan pie. I replied that I liked both, so she placed two servings of each on our tray. I told her that I didn't order all of this, and she said:

"Oh, that's okay, there's no extra charge. We'll be closing soon, as we're running out of meat; just sample everything and tell your friends back home about us."

My guess is that with this post and the one on Facebook, I'm keeping my end of the bargain.

Needless to say, we had a lot of leftovers and were looking forward to some dandy BBQ meals in the next couple of days. Franklin's will certainly go on my list of favorite restaurants at the link on the home page. The La Hacienda RV Resort, unfortunately, will not make the list of the Best of the Best RV parks. The reason? Not that it's not a nice park, because it is. I just that its sites are not paved but gravel.

Our drive around town was to help get us reacquainted with the city; so much has changed in the last two decades, we almost don't recognize the place. Sandy, true to what she believes is her divine calling, was able to sneak in some shopping for the grandkids.

Today was pretty typical for us, now that we're in the retirement mode. We don't hurry at anything: Waking up in the morning is leisurely; eating breakfast is leisurely; getting ready for the day is leisurely. Even driving is at a leisurely pace, and I'm fully aware of all the cars that pass me while they breathlessly race to the next red light where the drivers sit, immobile, as I pull up behind them. It occurs to me that I have become the elderly driver at whom I used to scoff when I was out there racing to the next red light myself. It doesn't bother me, though, as I now scoff at them, wondering why I couldn't have been as wise back then as I think I am now.

Sandy and I may or may not do any tours or visit historical sites on a given day; it just depends on what kind of mood we're in. And if we don't do that, it's okay, because there's always tomorrow. Besides, here in Austin, we've already toured most of the interesting and historical landmarks, so we mostly just kick back and relax, keeping up with the world and our friends via the Internet or doing some reading or TV watching. Is this just being lazy? I don't think so; if Sandy or I had been lazy for the last 40 years, we couldn't be doing this now.

We had run out of a few things for fixing meals, so we took a little time to go to H.E.B. and stock up, filling Mae's gas tank in the process. Now we're ready for some more touring tomorrow, and perhaps we'll decide where we're going to go next after we leave Austin. Life is grand, ain't it?

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

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