Some of the most relaxing moments on this trip have happened when we’ve stayed with friends. We have college friends in both Mesa and Houston and both cities made really great stopping points along the way. We were able to sit back and recharge our batteries and get some work done.
While we were in Houston, our friend offered to go with us to Austin. In our planning phase I had wanted to stop there, but I had to cut out some locations when our trip turned into a six week journey. So when the opportunity arose to spend the afternoon in Austin, we jumped on it! There are so many cool things to see and do in the city. With limited time, we chose to focus our attention on art, going to a sculpture garden and walking around town to find murals. I would LOVE to hear about any other suggestions for things to do in the city.
Our Austin adventure started out at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum. Located in the Zilker Metropolitan Park, the garden was quite easy to find. It is a nice way to spend an hour or so, walking around outside and enjoying a large collection of bronze sculptures. Charles Umlauf studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before he moved to Austin in 1941 where he would go on to teach sculpture and drawing at the University of Texas for 40 years. In 1985 he and his wife, Angeline, gave their home, studio and 168 sculptures to the city for a public museum and garden. Funds were raised and in 1991 the museum was built on adjoining city property.
What I found so striking about the pieces we observed in the garden were the hands, almost all of the sculptures had oversize hands. We later learned that we weren’t the first people to notice this distinct detail of Umlauf’s works. Many critics of Umlauf said he didn’t actually know how to create the intricate details of hands, and as such he had to make them laughably big. I however found them powerful, especially on the mother statues. They conveyed so many emotions: strength and security, tenderness, a sense of purpose. The mother and refugee pieces were my favorite in the entire park!
We moved downtown for lunch and found some delicious tacos at One Taco, a food truck. We all chose two different tacos to try; I had their Chicken Taco and the Gowalla Taco. While they were both good, the chicken tacos were seriously out of this world. I still have dreams about eating them weeks later!
After finishing out lunch and sitting in the shade for a few moments, it was time to go walk around and see some murals.
We ended up finding the two that I was most excited for, Til Death Do Us Part and Greetings from Austin. But they weren’t the only ones we found.
We ended our afternoon in Austin at the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company, where we had a beer and sat in the cool before driving back to Houston. A few hours was not enough to make much of a dent in the city, but it gave us a taste of the city, enough to know for sure we wanted to go back.
Out time in Texas ended the next day, saying goodbye with an afternoon thunderstorm in Houston. We headed out of the the city just as massive storms and flooding came through. I learned that Texas is much more than I thought; there is so much more than cowboys. The cities we visited were all unique and had their own flavors. Austin definitely made the short list of places we have to head back to!