All's well in Austin

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Two months ago, an Editor who is working on an upcoming book based on nomadic people, reached out and asked to interview Kieran and myself about our current journey on the road. After deciding that Austin would be the place that we would meet, I knew that arriving in this city would become even more special than I had already anticipated. And so we left magical Marfa behind us, so full of excitement that not even the seven hour drive ahead could taint our moods.

The rain came and went sporadically on our first day in Austin, the same day we were due to meet the Editor and her Photographer at sundown. I tend to be in a nervous state when meeting new people, let alone, be thinking about the weather and how it could possibly ruin our photoshoot. We spent the morning tidying up our motorhome, until it was time to head just outside of the city for the meet up. 

As we approached, I took deep breaths and vowed to remain wholly and solely myself, bumbling words and all. Soon after, we found ourselves parked within a leafy, quiet park, setting up folded chairs outside our van, as stories of our travels came tumbling out of my mouth. The rain had stopped falling and it didn't take long at all before I grew comfortable, and all of a sudden, it started to feel less like an interview and more like a chat with an old friend. The evening ended with the Photographer asking us to climb our roof for some last shots, and as we reached the top, at once, the moon appeared in the horizon — the moment felt very surreal, but in the best possible way.

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With our meeting now done and dusted, we were free to spend the rest of our time in Austin getting to know the things that are near and dear to Austinites' hearts. First, of course, is being outside. Then there’s hearty food and live music. Even in Austin’s scorching summers, food trucks, bar decks and patios beckon when the sun goes down. Although staking a spot in some of Austin's most beloved bars and restaurants can at times be like visiting a theme park — to get to the thrills, you may just have to brave some long lines — but al least the thrills are always worth the wait. 

Perhaps one of the most trendiest hubs in Austin is Rainey Street, filled with outdoor bars and restaurants near downtown. We headed here on a sunny Saturday afternoon with the intention to bar-hop, but once we arrived at Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden, we didn't feel the need to make any more stops. Here they serve an abundance of sausages and beers on tap, under the shade of a leafy beer garden, with a jazz band playing on the outdoor stage. We shared a large picnic table with some strangers, although after a long lazy lunch, we came away with some new friends.

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Driving through downtown, instantly I noticed that this is a city bursting with creative energy. A telling sign of this comes from the many murals and street art that seem to grace every spare surface in town. Naturally, we stopped to take some snaps of some of our favourites, including the 'Historic Sixth Street' mural, with the iconic 'Don't Mess With Texas' motif.

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During our last day in Austin, we paid a visit to Roadhouse Relics — an outdoor art gallery featuring colourful, Americana-inspired neon art by artist Todd Sanders. Located within South Austin, we first stepped inside to find Todd busy, sketching new work at his desk, with his dog companion, Hank Williams Jr. Jr. beside him. Todd welcomed us in before guiding us to his 'neon boneyard' out back, and as we wandered around ogling at the many signs that he had both created and collected, Todd began to share all of the interesting stories behind some of his favourite pieces. Like the red neon 'Austin' sign that he salvaged from a local Austin bakery, or the painted 'Diesel Fried Chicken' sign which he bought from an auction, made notable from being mentioned in the book, and later film, 'No Country for Old Men'. We came to learn that Todd also holds an impressive list of clients, having been previously commissioned to create signs for the likes of Billy Gibbons and Johnny Depp — with even Google's headquarters holds one of Todd's artworks.

As we left Austin that afternoon, I can truthfully say that I wasn't yet ready to leave. The more I had come to discover this city over the last few days, the more I could see it as a place I could call home. But that's the thing about this journey of mine, although I find myself being far, far away from home, I'm able to find another, even for a little while.

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