We have been getting on the road about 9 am each morning. The drive to Austin from Houston took about 3 and a half hours. We took State Route 8 which is a toll road until we got to the exit for State Route 290. From the time we got on until we got off 8, it cost $6 in tolls. Texas seems to have several toll roads. Once we got into Austin we got onto I-35 which runs north to Dallas and south to San Antonio (I think). It is a strange freeway, north and south seems to have 2 levels of road. The traffic was horrendous in the middle of the day. Reminded me of being in the Los Angeles area. We went to Mellow Johnny's bike shop first. This is Lance Armstrong's bike shop. They have a coffee shop off to the side of the shop and we were going to have lunch there. They had different coffee drinks, smoothies, frapp's, that sort of thing. They did have some premade sandwiches which did not look very inviting. Gerry did some shopping while we were there.
Some of you may recall that when the Tour of California was in Sacramento earlier this year, on the first day of the tour, Lance Armstrong's bike was stolen along with two other riders. The bike was recovered a few days later. Well, the guy who checked us out told us the bike was downstairs in their basement on display. The "good guy" who notified the Sacramento Police that he was given the bike by someone, was actually arrested for taking part in stealing the bike.
After we left there, we drove north on I-35 to Salado about 45 miles away. On the way we saw a Rudy's BBQ restaurant so decided to stop there for lunch. We had eaten at one in El Paso on our way east. The place was crowded. I did remember to take a few pictures this time.
Salado is a neat town. I wanted to go to Stamp Salado (a rubber stamp store) that had been suggested to me by Geeta, an AMuse design team member. Geeta lives in Austin and she teaches classes there once in a while. The shop is in a small house. It is full of all kinds of stamp goodies. All the stamps are grouped in themes, ie birthday, holiday, etc. They have a nice selection of Texas stamps. We shopped at few of the shops that are right around there. At two of the shops we stopped at, we had a great visit with the shop keepers. One was an art gallery. The pictures were all painted by the lady's husband and were all of different Texas scenes. I got a small picture of bluebonnets which is the state flower. At the second shop, we probably were in there for 3o minutes or more visiting with that shop keeper. By that time, it was 5pm and the shops were closing. We hadn't checked into our hotel yet and had the commute traffic back to Austin to contend with. I would have loved to have spend more time in Salado. It supposedly is a historic town. Supposedly the cattle drives that were on its way to the Ft. Worth Stockyards went right through the area.
We stayed at a Suburban Extended Stay hotel which is part of Choice Hotels. Its located in the south part of Austin which was great since we were going to head south on our way to Sonora. We always ask for a room on the first floor. Gerry went to check out the room first before he came to get our stuff and gagged from the smoke smell. It was a non-smoking room, however someone had smoked in it. We got an upgrade to a larger room on the second floor. Thankfully they had an elevator. The room had a full kitchen and a nice breakfast bar where we could both have our laptops. That has been a big problem in some of the hotels we've stayed in.
By the time we decided to go get some dinner, it was 8pm. We saw one place close by, it was closed. So then we saw a place across the freeway. What an experience that was. The restaurant was part of the Clarion Hotel. I don't remember the name of it. It was very dark inside, had a western theme and was a bar/restaurant combination. There was a guy playing a guitar and singing and he stops to tell us to sit wherever we wanted. Well, he was pretty much on his way to being totally drunk. His guitar playing was great, however his singing left much to be desired. He kept talking about his CD's he's recorded and supposedly has been in the music business for 45 years. Someone asked him to play a Johnny Cash song. It certainly wasn't anything I'd ever heard before by Johnny Cash.
The service was pretty bad, very slow. The restaurant didn't look like there were a lot of people there. They are in the process of redoing their menu so there were just a few choices. I had a hamburger with potato salad and Gerry had chopped steak with french fries. The food turned out to be pretty good.
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