Tuesday, February 2, 2016


In 1991, SWMBO and I decided to move from Mexico back to the United States.

We picked Austin, Texas for a variety of reasons but I always said it was because it was the first city where I discovered I could buy the Sunday New York Times from a newspaper box on the sidewalk!

Austin was a great town.

For its main campus of the University of Texas with the multi-story library open to the public.

For the Harry Ransom Center, which holds millions of rare books, manuscripts, photographs and art for scholars and in rotating exhibits.

I saw a Gutenberg bible on display there once and rooms full of art that had belonged to James Michener.

We went to a lecture at the University one night by Kurt Vonnegut.

Austin also had a great music community with many, many bars and nightclubs hosting live performances every night of the week.

I stood at the edge of the dance floor in one club one night right next to the piano that the pianist and blues singer Marcia Ball was playing.

And the restaurants!

Barbecue and Tex-Mex food dominated but you could find anything in Austin's culinary scene.

It's the state capitol of Texas and politics is a sport unlike any other.

Speaking of sport, we drove over to Houston (165 miles away) once to see my then beloved Los Angeles Dodgers play baseball against the Astros. Dem Bums lost.

Austin lies on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, famous for its bluebonnets and Mexican paintbrushes, flowers which Lady Bird Johnson had planted along highways in her beautification campaign.

The LBJ ranch is in the Hill Country.

President Johnson's library is in Austin and I visited it many times and took visitors there.

So Austin is a great town.  Why did we leave?

It's only about 175 miles from the Gulf of Mexico but it's less than 500 feet higher.

All the moisture from the Gulf seems to flow right on up to Austin.

Result? In the summer it's hot and humid. In the winter it's cold and humid.

We had grown accustomed to dry climates and we just couldn't handle the wetness.

So, less than two years after we arrived in Austin we left, headed once again for Arizona.

Here my Sunday New York Times is delivered to my door.


Tom Cochrun said...

Austin is a great place to visit. It's probably one of the best things about Texas, a state where there are places where the New York Times is probably illegal. Plus Austin Public Television has given us that wonderful music series.

joeh said...

You even look like you're sweating by the ranch.

Jager said...

I did some consulting in the 80's and I had a client in Houston, one Sunday I drove to Galveston and then drove along the shore of Galveston Island. The shore line was trashed, old sofas, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, any and everything you can imagine was dumped on the beach. I've spent time in San Antonio and Austin (played hockey on the rink at U of T, they had a lot of Canadians going to school there) There is a world of difference between those two parts of Texas. My niece lives in Austin and other than misogynists she works with, she loves it for the same reasons you did.

Stephen Hayes said...

I've heard great things about Austin, but having grown up and lived my life on the West Coast I don't handle humidity very well.

Anonymous said...

In January 1979, my wife and I spent two days driving through Texas.


L Lewis said...

Ah, yes the perfect climate. We moved to Colorado and the humidity and the snow and ice drove us out 11 months later. What were we thinking? Same thing as Austin though, the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanical Gardens, sculptures and restaurants everywhere. Miss all that in our little cowboy town.

Catalyst said...

You can find all that in Phoenix, only 80 miles away.

Should Fish More said...

I've been to Austin a couple times, and I noticed that when you leave the city limits you're back in Texas. Move it to Montana.

Catalyst said...

When I lived in Austin there was an expression, probably from the Bureau of Tourism: "Texas. It's like a whole different country." And after awhile I began to see what they meant.

Lowandslow said...

You're right, both about Austin being a great city and the weather/heat/humidity being awful. And also about Marsha Ball being a great talent. I've seen her at 2 venues in recent years...great fun! :)

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