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Austin, TX - Day 1

Quick note, I've edited the privacy settings here so that viewers can comment on posts if they like.

Today was our first day in Austin the capital of Texas!
Technically we got in last night, but it was pretty late and I was already in train run mode so didn't explore :P

Today however, I got up nice and early, ate breakfast and got right down to it!


This is more or less the route I took.."A" is our venue.

First I went to run an errand...a secret errand, to be revealed in a later post :P
Next I visited the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. I figured, TX was almost its own republic, and here's a good place to find out how that almost happened! Haha.

Lo and behold, no photos were allowed inside the museum :/ I did snap this one in the lobby though...it's a floor mural of sorts.

I would have taken pics inside anyway, but the displays were seriously set up to discourage photography. I have no idea why...most of the artifacts were replicas. There were many real items from the shipwreck of La Belle, a ship intended for use by French explorer La Salle to start a French colony near the Mississippi. There were lots of hammered brass pots, utensils and weapons. The hull of La Belle has been excavated and is supposed to be included in the museum next year.

A large section of the museum was spent revealing how Gulf Coast natives used the Spanish and French traders and colonists to their advantage, trying to maintain 'friendly' commerce with both sides while also kind of egging them on to fight each other. The whole situation was more complicated than you might think, because in addition to the French and Spanish trying to get the land, there were missionaries trying to convert the natives and Americans trying to expand their territory.
Heck, I don't remember history being this interesting in middle school! :D

The missionaries were especially interesting because they were essentially used by the Spanish government to gain a foothold and create forts in key areas. Sure, the monks themselves may have truly wanted to convert the heathens, but the government gave them money to build missions to be used as forts later on. Sneaky!

The museum continued chronologically up through the Texan Republic and the Civil War. Back when Houston was the capital, it was described as "hot, humid, swampy, and plagued by insects and fevers". Sounds about right!
The museum did a good job of covering civil rights after the Civil War, focusing in particular on how industry was effected by the freeing of the slaves (cotton production in Texas dropped something like 75%). Another fun quote was found in the 'Votes for Women' section...apparently in 1876 in Texas, "Idiots, imbeciles, paupers, and felons" did not have the right to vote. Well they sure do now LOL.

Other fun facts that I learned today:
A small number of Japanese brought rice to Texas, cultivating it on the Gulf Coast.
Quicksilver (mercury) is found in surprisingly large quantities in Texas, and was mined from Cinnabar ore during wartimes.

After that, I went to visit the Capital building. It's really impressive outside and in!
This was below ground level...I think maybe a plaza for some offices?

From inside, the capital dome:

This was an overflow gallery above the Senate floor.

Cool stuff :)
Then I went to 6th Street, where there was a Whole Foods (don't worry, I didn't go in haha) and a bunch of unique little shops. I went into Wiggy's Liquor to ask about a wine I like (they didn't have it), then found Sweetish Hill Bakery where I got a loaf of bread (to be reviewed later) and an "I <3 TX" cookie.
It was VERY fresh...nice crumbly shortbread!

After that I found this CRAZY shop...they said they were a 'furniture' shop but I didn't see much furniture...just stuff like antler chandeliers...
lamps made of lobster tails...
a HUGE collection of crosses made of various materials (including antlers and leather)...
...and the Biggest Wind Chimes On The Earth. Click here to visit their website and use the categories on the right to see some of the stuff...it's NUTS.

In addition to the weird stuff, there was BEAUTIFUL stuff, like this very ornate chair inlaid with mother of pearl:

Detail of the arm, where you can see the individual pieces:

I didn't buy anything because it was too crazy. Lol.
Next I went to BookPeople, an independently owned bookstore that has lots of other stuff besides books.
Again I just looked around, didn't buy anything, just enjoyed seeing things you wouldn't normally see in a bookstore like gag gifts, hemp clothing, handmade stationary, etc.
The coffee bar looked great, I may have to go back just for that!

Then it was time to get back to the train, and so I did :)

Sorry this was such a long post, I just did so much today!

Tomorrow is an afternoon rehearsal and a night show. Hooray!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
Fact about the capital building: Our former boss' friend's dad (if you follow that) painted the ceiling.
Aug. 22nd, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
Small world! Lol.
Seriously, that's awesome!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )