Thursday, 28 July 2011

East Coast to the West Coast – Bringin’ the Heat

Being a west country boy I feel an affinity to western areas, (southwest England, southwest China even south west ish Japan are home to my favourite places in these countries. Western Canada bar Banff (which is actually still western Canada) is my favourite part of Canada too. This in mind in America I have started in the middle and worked east, so it was about time I began the loop back to the west, California to be exact.

Despite my western affinity I have very much enjoyed my time in the eastern board, for previous endeavours in Boston, Washington and Chicago(Midwest) see my previous posting, if you can be bothered.

Moving swiftly on to new adventures. We headed southeast outta DC and went straight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This is Miami’s cheaper, less pretentious, less poseur esque brother in law. First stop off after meeting our host, Williams was a trip to ‘Duffys’ which as you may have guessed is a bar, shocking. They served 32 oz (2 pints) of beer for the measly cost of $3.50! What is this madness you ask, well it turns out in Florida they like to drink and they like it cheap.  To further cement this fact we went out in the evening and it gets better.  After paying a ‘hefty’ $5 cover charge we gained entry to a bar with 3-4-1 drinks at $5 a pop, money back already! BUT also they had girls wrestling in jelly… I don’t know why but it was quite enjoyable. At this point I probably decided I didn’t want to leave… ever.

In the next few days we had some fun, we attempted to play ‘soccer’ in a field when it was far too hot to do anything. We went alligator hunting on a fan boat, we saw four though the main fun was the fan boating. We held baby alligators and then went to play with some puppies at the pet store. It being hot ‘n’ humid we hit the beach a few times and watched lightning strike out at sea, deciding it was probably not a good idea not to be in the sea, we as usual headed to a bar for dinner. In every city we have visited we have seen lightning (more on this later) We sampled some malls (air conned,) honed skills at beer pong and cruised around Miami just to see all the fakery and posing of the wannabe rich and famous. I did not rate Miami and luckily we were not based here as mentioned. Fort Lauderdale is huge though with everything being about 20 minutes’ drive away.  


View from our Florida accomodation

On our last full day, as it was the Miss Williams birthday and anniversary we sorted out a Boat and went cruising in the inter-coastal area. This was sweet and a great way to spend a day looking cool and island hopping, the welsh one lost his glasses as we went over some wake too fast, too cool.

On 'Penny Island'

Florida over and done with we went off to Austin, Texas. I was particularly excited by this trip because I wanted to see if everyone in texas does actually wear hats and cowboy boots, they do. First thing you need to know about Austin is that it’s more alternative and liberal than the rest of Texas, a fact they pride themselves on. This is quite apparent in the airport by the abundance of t-shirts stating ‘Keep Austin Weird’

We met are host for this week, a one Maggie McGrath who immediately knowing we were ‘thirsty’ from our flight took us to a bar for free Nacho’s. Just kidding, she took us there for Margheritas! Welshie ordered a Mexican one and it was so strong he could only legally be served 2 of them and NOTHING ELSE. Keeping on the Austin ‘weird’ theme the bars were cool and different.

It being damn hot during the first full day we went to an outdoor pool/spring to cool off during the day and in the evening took in some free Blues in a park.

It being Texas there are two foods I should really note. BBQ (of course) and Mexican. We went to the original ‘Salt Lick’ for tasty tasty meat sold by the Pound! We loved it so much we got more BBQ the second day for lunch. We ate the Mexican food most when we were drinking, in one bar; ‘Chuyas’ during happy hour they had endless free chips and dip (this is quite common in these parts) On the last day Maggie took us for a ‘Mexican Breakfast’ which turns out to be the same Mexican food as normal, with scrambled egg occasionally.

Back to the tourist thing we saw the national museum of Texas and got a [free] tour of the Capitol building from Maggie’s friend Bogan. Having mostly explored Austin we got out of town and headed to a German town named Friedricksburg, on the way to this was the Brewery where we had a tour which ended in a rather large fridge (a brilliant escape from the heat) – we tried free beer and I bought a t-shirt.Afterwards we saw a deserted private airport which was quite cool. In the evening we had dinner and popped into ‘Luckenbach Ranch’. At this point someone might add in something like this being the ‘real America’ but that’s stupid because it’s all real America. But having said that, this is the ‘country’ America is often depicted in film. They had a country band playing  with couples wearing cowboy hats dancing in a large open walled building and a big longhorn(a cow) that you could pose with. On the way home we watched a Thunder Storm roll in across the plains, more epic lightning.

Hypnotoad graffiti

'Lone Star'

Blues on the green

Old Plane

Beer Saloon at the Ranch

On the last day we floated down the San Marcos river. This consists of renting a tube, a tube for beer and a cooler to put beer in. Then supplies acquired you simply float down the river, that simple. This was awesome, we drank far too much and caught the sun. True Brits’ abroad as you were, we even got our accents abused “you’re not from Bristol, you don’t sound Bristolian” or to Welshie “that’s the worst fake British accent I’ve ever heard”… pure comedic brilliance if you ask me. In the evening an a quick dinner at Hooters we watched Roller Derby, this was a bit disappointing actually and not nearly as fun as the film (Whip It, check it out) then we hit ‘dirty six’ for more drinking into the early hours.

Austin is cool and laid back, its only real downside is its quite huge making driving a must. It has however made the list and has successfully filled the ‘would do again or recommend to a friend’ tick box
This is a whistle stop review so far, Vegas is next and well what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas so that’s It – ok we gambled, went to a pool party at Caesars Palace and drank on the roof of Pure, otherwise just go watch the Hangover that’s exactly what happened. We are now in the west coast thus completing the journey to the west coast and the end of this blog.

Sunset from our hotel room in Vegas
Following this, a list of top sites so far in my travels.

Also I have added Welshies blog to the links at the top of the page, parental advisory suggested at your discretion.

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