As I write this, I am sitting on the dog bed next to a (finally) sleeping puppy who has only recently abandoned her efforts to help me type. I cannot rest the heels of my hands on the laptop, because they are skinned raw, and Lewis is dead-to-the-world asleep. The sign of a truly productive vacation is when upon return home Lewis can’t stay up past 9, and I can’t fall asleep until after midnight.
Things lined up rather marvelously this weekend, if I do say so myself. A concert coincided with an important anniversary. A race with some unused vacation time. A spay surgery with a road trip. The results were five days of patchwork vacation held together by the Steve Jobs biography on audiobook.
Austin. We cashed in a “Friends and Family” rate at Hotel Saint Cecilia so that we could design-geek/beat-geek out. We also conducted research on counterintuitively veggie-based foods, which on South Congress mostly just means we ate out. To be honest though, as much as I love anything leek-based I would have been content with the minibar at the hotel…Central Market has nothing on Liz Lambert’s minibars.
The whole trip was planned around a Heartless Bastards concert. The date of the concert, January 17th, happily coincides with the anniversary of the day Lewis decided not the be a heartless bastard, an instead to ask me out on a “real date”…
The band was amazing. Definitely a band that should be heard live, which was why is was particularly peculiar that we were surrounded by an unusually uncouth group. Not what one would expect in Austin, the standard bearer for indie music culture. My inner, snarky, guardian of all social contracts, we’ll call her Emily Post-modern, would like to send the following memos:
To the gorilla grinder requiring five feet of clearance on all sides: we’re not forming a dance circle around you. We’re trying to avoid the splash zone of your Lone Star. And the girl you met five minutes ago with the line, “That’s a beautiful name,” is not making up a new dance move, she’s trying to get away.
To the guy whipping out disco moves while the rest of us do the Buster Bluth: I think you’re cool, but the girl with whom you are obviously on a first date looks a little uneasy.
To the sorority reunions happening in front of and behind us: talking over the music makes your voices sound fat.
More Austin. We check out vinyls from the front desk (it’s that kind of place) and Lewis makes the most of the outdoor shower (yes, that kind of place).
Big Bend. We headed out early in the morning for the National Park, armed with Steve Jobs’s biography on Audiobook. Which made us so glad to arrive at the headquarters of the Big Bend Ultra Run where your choices for company were happy, sun-dried, endorphin-fueled nature nuts…or no one for hundreds of miles. Either choice seemed better than imagining myself in the company of Steve Jobs circa 1982.
We hiked to an amazing waterfall. In the middle of Big Bend. Amazing. Lewis tells me that it is great for skinny dipping when not serving as the meet-up point for three generations of a family reunion, which it was at that moment. Lewis, though intensely private, is an avid streaker and skinny-dipper. I, though intensely public, am neither.
The Race. Last year we ran the Big Bend Ultra Run 50K. After nearly losing my religion, I declared that I hate trail running and had no desire to do anything of the sort ever again. So this year we registered for the 25K, employing theory that stopping half way through the 50K would have made me incredibly happy. Ergo, if I ran a race half the distance, I would be incredibly happy.
We we right. It was great.
Other than the moment I caught sight of the finish line and forgot to watch where I was going.
We met up with Lewis’s parents for dinner and soaked in the views of the Chisos, as the medic informed me that soaking the Rio Grande or the hot springs with open wounds was ill advised. I drank a soda and a beer. One for the race. One for the road rash.
The Long Road Home. We piled back in the car with Steve Jobs (having had all the laid-back, balanced people we could take) and headed back to Marathon for breakfast. The Burnt Biscuit Bakery is always an entertaining stop, so we made it and were regaled on why there were flowers coming out of the coffee roaster while we feasted on fried pies (I’d run out of reasons for indulgences, so this one was just a plain old indulgence).
At exit 477, we took a detour to Marble Falls, to meet the newest member of our family. Florence McNeel (formerly Chloe the rescue rottweiler) rode home in my lap, finally fully vetted and ready for her new home. At this point, Lewis, who bikes to work most days, had been driving for five straight days (except when he was running across the desert). I knew he was exhausted, and wondered if the two-hour detour to fetch Florence had been the right call.
I need not have feared. Lewis’s assessment after 1,380 miles: “If only all long road trips ended with a puppy.”