Saturday: Austin to Port Aransas

Upon learning that I had to be in Austin on a Thursday and Friday, I hatched a plan to stay for a few extra days and enjoy a mini road trip. After a never-ending, cold Winter, I felt I owed it to myself. Besides, not doing so would have just been silly, right? I’d been to Austin twice before, but had never had time to see much of the area.

mapPlus, Austin is sorta close to the beach. All I could think about was SUN and WARMTH. And sand. I love the beach, but don’t get to go much since Hubby isn’t a beach type.

I had settled on a beach town in advance (Tracy had recommended Port Aransas) and knew there were some things in and around Austin I wanted to see, but I didn’t really have an itinerary. I was anxious to reach the beach, but the weather forecast was rather iffy. So I figured I’d look around Austin and visit The Salt Lick barbecue on Saturday morning and then head for the Gulf coast.

Before I started working for a company based in Texas, I didn’t know much about the state. For example, I didn’t know Texas BBQ was it’s own important food group. During one of my first trips there I ate at the airport location of The Salt Lick. It was fabulous. Tracy shipped a bottle to me, and Hubby became hooked, too. Of course, you can’t buy that sauce anywhere in or near Virginia — it’s even hard to find in Texas — so we have to have it shipped in regularly. That’s the reason behind wanting to visit the original location.

The Salt Lick BBQ started in Driftwood, Texas. With a name like that, I figured it should at least be interesting. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

As I mentioned in my last post, I went into downtown Austin on Friday night. After seeing a glimpse of the pinkish-looking capitol building, I decided I should get a closer look on Saturday. On the way, I passed through the South Congress (SoCo) shopping district. I HAD to stop there first to get a picture of Lucy the Zebra (found her in my app).

Lucy in Disguise
Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds

There were several funky little shops in SoCo. I looked through a couple, but most opened later in the day (I was there around 10:00). And I didn’t feel like being indoors anyway. So I snapped some pics then headed deeper into the city. First, though, I detoured over to the river to see if there was a good waterfront view. There wasn’t. But I did see this cute dog. It made me laugh to see him quietly people-watching (the hike/bike path went right past his apartment).

The Sentry
The Sentry

Don’t you just love that expression on his face?

Before I go on, I have to say I culled through my pics and ended up with 60 to share with you. That’s far too many for a blog post, so you’ll have to visit my Flickr site if you want to see more. I’ll share that link later…

Driving into Downtown Austin from SoCo

I was hoping to find a coffee shop in town. Most places were either closed on Saturdays (I was in the business district) or opened for lunch.

Capitol Building

I hadn’t planned on going into the capitol building. However, I figured a potty break would be a good idea before driving out to Driftwood.

The capitol really is pink as it appears. It was made from a pink-hued granite. Long story. Feel free to Google it if you care.

Under the Dome (from inside)

After gawking at the building a bit and snapping some photos, I headed out to the country. I really am not a city girl. I much prefer wide-open spaces.

It didn’t take long at all to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind. It was Saturday, remember. Had it been a weekday, I would have taken MUCH longer. Traffic around Austin can be a bit of a bear.

If you’re interested in seeing the map of my route for the day, it’s here.

Less than 30 minutes after leaving the capitol, I was in Driftwood.

The Salt Lick
The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas

I’d arrived at The Salt Lick BBQ as planned, just in time for lunch.

The Salt Lick Lunch (Ribs and Brisket)
The Salt Lick Lunch (Ribs and Brisket)

As expected, The Salt Lick was a bit of a tourist trap. The food was good. Very good, in fact. It just wasn’t the best I’d ever had. I thought Rudy’s brisket was better. And, if I’m being completely honest, my husband’s ribs are better. The ribs at The Salt Lick had a good flavor, but they were a little tough. And that Hubby of mine makes kick-ass ribs. So I was judging The Salt Lick against some very high standards. Their sauce, however, remains my favorite. There’s just nothing like Salt Lick BBQ sauce.

It would have been better with a beer, too. I still had a long way to drive, though. Oh, and I only ate about half of what you see there. I don’t like driving on a full stomach.

Speaking of driving, my buddy, Bob (of RidingTheWetCoast fame) requested lots of pics so he could see what Texas looks like. Bob lives up in British Columbia, Canada.

One of many Farm to Market roads in Texas.

Most motorcyclists like back roads. Even when traveling in a car. Secondary roads are called either “farm to market” or “ranch to market” roads in Texas. I took FM-150 from Driftwood over to I-35. The first half of the route would be lots of fun on a motorcycle. It was a sorta curvy, undulating road with relatively smooth pavement. I wouldn’t want to be on it in the rain, however, as there were several low creek crossings with water depth markers, which makes me believe it floods a lot when there’s rain.

You know I HAD to stop there, right?

The cool thing about traveling solo is that you can stop whenever you want to for whatever reason. And you don’t have to feel even a little guilty stopping quickly and often when there’s something you simply MUST capture with the camera.

I’d already eaten, so didn’t go inside. But it was cute.

I don’t think I mentioned that the wildflowers were in bloom. Bluebonnets (the Texas state flowers) were in bloom everywhere, along with Texas Paintbrush (red), Indian Blanket (red with yellow), Greenthreads (yellow), Winecups (pinks), and Primrose (yellow) seemed to be the predominate flowers. But practically everywhere you looked there was color. The trees were freshly green, too.



Lots of Texas Paintbrush


Cute Cow

I took quite a few shots of that cute cow until this rude heifer came along. She made me giggle…

Rude Heifer blocked my view.

I did say I took lots of pictures, right? LOL. Here are a few stand-outs/oddities…

Quite a few Thirsty Birds in Texas.

Those are also called Pump Jacks (among other things). Yes, I had to Google it.

I saw several of these giant blow torch-looking things.

I assume those are oil-related. Why there needs to be a giant, burning blow torch in the middle of a field is beyond me.

Oil rig. One of several seen along the way.

I saw lots of pick-up trucks, too. And cows. A lot of cows. But who’s complaining?

Curious cow with pretty flowers.

One thing that struck me, particularly as I got closer to the coast, was the rich, dark-brown color of the earth.

Yes, I took a picture of dirt to show you. Does it look extra brown to you, too?

I can’t help it, I like cows.

When I passed this next field of cows at about 75 MPH (speed limits are high in Texas), I HAD to do a U-turn. Despite the rain, even.

Shore birds and cows? Who knew?


Surf and Turf Ranch?

Those are Egrets hanging out with the cows. Cattle Egrets to be exact. (Thank you, again, dear Google.)

Cattle Egrets hang out with the cows and eat the bugs stirred up as the cows graze.

Two-fer… giant chicken and an armadillo.

Another plus of lesser-traveled farm-to-market roads is being able to hit the brakes when you zoom past stuff like that.

Aransas Pass/Port Aransas Causeway

I just love the sweet smell of salt air as you approach the coast.

My journey literally ended on the beach.

I think it was around 6:30 when I reached Port Aransas. Just five hours, give or take, after leaving The Salt Lick.

I was quite tickled to discover that Port Aransas Beach Road is actually ON the beach. I didn’t know I could drive on the sand.

After greeting the Gulf, I broke out the phone, started the app, and found myself a hotel for the next two nights. Yes, I used the phone to pay for it, too. Gotta love technology.

After checking into said hotel, I needed dinner.

Senor Hornitos Margarita

Oh, wait. I NEEDED a margarita. Dinner was just a bonus.

Crabmeat Enchiladas

That was Saturday.

Next up? Why, Sunday, of course.

I crack myself up…

If you’re interested, all of Saturday’s pics are on Flickr for your viewing pleasure.

9 Replies to “Saturday: Austin to Port Aransas”

  1. Great photos, Kathy. Must have been a fun drive, solo. Those blow-torch stacks are burning off methane as it rises from the well. Otherwise it could accumulate and detonate.

  2. Thanks, Andrew. I guess those blow torches are a good idea then! And, yes, I did enjoy the drives.

  3. Wow, you packed so much good stuff into one day.

    Loved all the pictures. Nice to be able to stop and check everything out.

    The burning stacks reminded me of driving through Alberta and the gas plants.

  4. Kathy:

    We saw our first Pump Jacks down in CA, Pacific Coast Road south of SFO.

    I have to tell you how hungry you made me. I checked out the Salt-lick Menu and now I’m drooling . . . We also make our own ribs, but not necessarily BBQ’d. They go into our slow cooker for 8-10 hours on low. We make pulled pork this way too. Ever since then we don’t order these items when we go out. Same with steaks. We’d rather have them at home

    When we are by ourselves, I also make a lot of U-turns. Often you are traveling too fast and I don’t want to wear out my brakes but then I started to drive a bit slower and pull over to let aggressive drivers pass. Of course in a Rental Car using the brakes isn’t a concern. Just jam them on, right ?

    You are also allowed to drive on the beach in Oregon but I don’t want to take a chance. I’ve seen cars stuck with the tide coming in

    Looks like the weather wasn’t very good looking. Of course you could still walk in the sand, I know you want to do it . . . I would

    We are like long lost cousins. I also like enchiladas and this is what I generally order and your crabmeat one looks yummy but I would need more sour cream

    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Sorry, Bob. But I had to share those pics. Mike smokes ribs and pork shoulder/butt with a dry rub. The Salt Lick sauce gets served on the side. Rudy’s was better, but Tbr Salt Lick was still really good.

      I wouldn’t normally order ribs in a restaurant. I did it as a test.

      Of course I went onto the beach. Even into the water, but only to my knees. That post is in the works.

  5. Shan, I love that dog pic, too. And the dome. You’d like Austin. Cool vibe. Although many locals say it’s losing its charm thanks to outsiders moving in and wanting to change things.

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