Down South with friends and queso.

A few months ago I went to Austin, Texas for a few days to spend time with Chelsea and Comrade Kate. They live in the cutest little apartment and graciously hosted me on the most comfortable blow-up mattress ever. Not even a single hint of sarcasm there- I slept like a queen!

Austin was hot, brutally so, but still really beautiful. Chelsea got a job working for a really neat start up company where she can flex her creative muscles (which are metaphorically huge) and Kate freelances with her wicked English and grammar skills and helps edit and make everything better. I secretly see her writing something that sort of makes a little Texas Southern Gothic novel somewhere, but that’s my opinion.

In our time there we ate so much good food. My first meal was catfish and fried okra and it was delicious! Kate and I made the most expensive pie because we bought $40 of fresh fruit from Whole Foods accidentally while Chelsea was at work. Oops. I also forgot about sales tax, a most annoying thing that superior Montanan residents don’t have to fuss over.

My first night there Chelsea whipped up some pretty strong mojitos in their cute little kitchen. We then went across the street to a wonderfully decorated bar where I ordered a whole glass of gin and petted a stuffed javelina head. The bartender asked me if I was sure I wanted an entire large glass of grapefruit infused gin, to which in my mojito-induced state I eagerly agreed to. I’m pretty sure Chelsea intervened and there was some tonic in that gin. The rest of the night was mostly me nibbling at an amazing brisket that I actually didn’t remember eating but I’m 100% sure was amazing.

The next day we went to the botanical gardens, where I was feeling pretty rough. I’m honestly a 1 or 2 wine glasses kind of girl (did I really just type that). The gardens were the perfect salve for my hangover. They were misty and cool, and I was distracted from my pounding head and want to sleep forever by foliage the likes of which I had never seen in semi-arid Montana. I have successfully raised 2 cacti and several aloe plants in my house but it was really amazing to see some fantastic different sorts of plants. We stayed for a few hours and I took so many pictures of all the flora. We found out that some of Chelsea’s Swedish ancestors had chosen Texas as their home, and I chased several lizards and saw a snake.

Afterwards we had QUESO. I had to capitalize queso because it was like I’d met God. Queso, hot and cheesy and delicious, was an underlying theme of my whole trip. I swear if there was a religion around queso I would join and worship daily. I doubt it’s really that healthy but health be damned because queso made me feel like I was a better person just for having eaten it. I still dream about it.

On my second to last day Chelsea, Kate and I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier in their massive bed and then went mini-golfing to shake off the fact that Bucky was the Winter Solider (WHAT). We picked up a six pack of a really delicious beer, and drank the whole thing quickly because it was so…horribly…hot. Sweat was dripping from us all. We golfed faster than I think I ever had. Mostly because there was a couple right behind us, so we felt socially pressured, but also because it was so hot. Afterwards we went and ate more queso. Or maybe that was just me, but either way I definitely ate queso.

While I was there we did go to Sixth Street and had a blast. We had the most amazing queso at an Irish bar (yup) and drank in a bar that had enormous framed Civil War generals and quotes about alcohol that they’d said. I saw my friend Ann briefly.

Overall Austin was a seriously beautiful place with a lot happening. There was a lot of gentrification, a lot of money, and a lot of hope. Optimism was everywhere. Chelsea and Kate live in a really nice part of Austin that is easy to get anywhere from, and I felt so lucky to be able to get a little break from Montana and be with some really remarkable souls who have found a little place to set down some roots. My grandmother grew up in Texas and still misses it and I really liked seeing the Capitol and learning a bit of Texas history and telling her all about it.

Thanks again to Chelsea and Kate for being models, hosts, and makers of wonderful drinks. You both are absolutely marvelous creatures.

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