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AUSTIN. Not all Texas cities are created equal


43. Probably one of the most irrelevant and insignificant ages in a person’s life. It’s right up there with 22 and 37; but, any birthday, any year is GREAT when you live in Austin, Texas.

Greetings from AUSTIN - Capitol of Texas

Greetings from AUSTIN – Capitol of Texas

Ever since I was old enough to say “I’m not going to work on my birthday”, I haven’t worked on my birthday, and this year was no different. I threw my kick ass Crumpler camera bag over my shoulder and decided to explore my city while I waited on my friends from Lubbock and Houston to arrive in town. Let’s just say… “Not all Texas cities are created equal” and leave it at that.

Austin GlobeTrekker 2013

Austin GlobeTrekker 2013

If your travel plans involve an Excel spreadsheet of what you’re doing each day, each hour, where you’re eating, what time you’re having coffee, and how long you’re going to stand in front of X statue, or visit Y museum, then you and I my friend will have some “challenges” as travel partners. I think I’ve mentioned multiple times… I just need to know WHERE I’m sleeping each night. 2 words… MADRID. Yeah, I know that’s just one word. Add !@#$%&! in front of it, and you’ll get the idea. It was 2003, and I really need to let it go; But, I digress. I needed COFFEE and Jo’s Coffee was my 1st stop.

Jo's Coffee - South Congress Ave [Austin, TX]

Jo’s Coffee – South Congress Ave [Austin, TX]

Cup of joe at Jo's [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Cup of joe at Jo’s [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

So once again… my plan for the day… I’m going to act like a tourist and SEE the city of Austin! Yeah, I pretty much made it to Jo’s Coffee Shop on South Congress Ave (SoCo). If you want to waste away a morning with no care in the world… SoCo is your place. Reminds me of a story (here comes the random irrelevant travel tangent). My wife Anna and I accidentally stumbled into a little Italian run coffee shop in the beautiful town of Füssen, Bavaria (aka Germany) a few years ago, and almost didn’t make it to Neuschwanstein Castle. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration and partially my fault. Actually, it was ALL of my fault. I accidentally put Falkenstein Castle in the GPS instead of Neuschwanstein Castle, and next thing you know… we’re lost in the middle of the Bavarian Alps (which was AWESOME by the way!). We eventually saw the castle that inspired Walt Disney; but, between the town of Füssen and my GPS incompetence, we kinda got sidetracked by more than a few hours that day. Which was perfectly cool, because that’s how great unexpected travel stories are created. Wrote a blog about it which you can read here: BAVARIA. Get Lost! Besides… We knew we were sleeping in Salzburg that night. That’s all I needed to know.

Neuschwanstein Castle - Bavarian Alps [May 2011]

Neuschwanstein Castle – Bavarian Alps [May 2011]

Füssen, Germany – Bavarian Alps [May 2011]

Wait… How the heck did I get off on a tangent about Bavaria? OK, back to Austin. 68 F and Sunny (the weather, not me). I’m sitting on an outdoor bench at Jo’s Coffee, sippin’ on a perfectly crafted mocha, legs kicked up on the chair across from me, reading my Facebook birthday greetings and trying to “like” and/or respond to every single one of them. Finally, I did what every smart person should do at least one day per week, and I put away my iPhone and decided to be still. calm. quiet. And appreciate the world of South Congress Avenue passing in front of me. What a magnificent birthday treat!

Jo's - The Best Coffee in Town [South Congress Ave. - Austin, TX]

Jo’s – The Best Coffee in Town [South Congress Ave. - Austin, TX]

Jo's Coffee - http://www.joscoffee.com/ 1300 South Congress Ave. - Austin, TX]

Jo’s Coffee – http://www.joscoffee.com/ 1300 South Congress Ave. [Austin, TX]

I’m telling you people… If “People Watching” was an Olympic sport, I’d be a 5 time reigning Olympic Gold Medalist. Some people call it lazy… I call it observant and patient. I couldn’t tell you how long I was sitting at Jo’s “People Watching”; however, without a purpose or cue, I removed myself from my perch, and decided to capture my SoCo surroundings on camera. ONE CITY BLOCK my friends! That’s how much of my city I saw that morning, and it was fantastic! Thanks Jo’s Coffee!

People Watching on South Congress Ave [Austin, TX]

People Watching on South Congress Ave [Austin, TX]

Something as simple as the green side wall infused with red spray paint at Jo’s that says… “I Love You So Much”. My first thought… These punk kids with their graffiti!!! Just kidding. My first thought… Anna (my wife). I snapped a photo and sent it to her via text. Her response: “Did you write that?”. It crossed my mind ever so briefly to take credit for this simplistic and beautiful message; but, I gave the fine folks at Jo’s all the credit.

"i love you so much" - Jo's Coffee Shop [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

“i love you so much” – Jo’s Coffee Shop [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Right next door to Jo’s… Snack Bar Diner – Lounge. Even the sign is cool! “Food! We’ve Got It!”. Yes they do! Organic local produce all wrapped into a cool vibe. A piece of art mounted on the back wall of the parking lot shows favor to the quirkiness of Austin’s SoCo. I’m also a sucker for vehicles that look like they shouldn’t be running; yet, somehow their soul is revived as a reminder of how things used to be. And I like that.

Snack Bar Diner. Lounge. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Snack Bar Diner. Lounge. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Old... but, running (I think) - Snack Bar Diner. Lounge. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Old… but, running (I think) – Snack Bar Diner. Lounge. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Look up, and you can’t help but see the landmark Austin Motel in front of you.  “No Additives. No Preservatives. Corporate Free Since 1938″. Yeah, there’s also NO VACANCY. Hit the end of the block and turn back, and there’s a 2nd message from Austin Motel. “So Close. Yet So Far Out”. It’s South Congress baby!

AUSTIN MOTEL - No Additives. No Preservatives. No Corporate Free Since 1938

AUSTIN MOTEL – No Additives. No Preservatives. Corporate Free Since 1938

AUSTIN MOTEL - So Close. Yet So Far Out. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

AUSTIN MOTEL – So Close. Yet So Far Out. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

The block was lined with unique storefronts filled with quirky artifacts, clothing, boots, and furniture. Not that I was out to shop; but, more or less to proudly appreciate the focus on supporting local businesses. Places like El Tezontle Gallery, Heritage Boot Company (handmade fancy boots), Stella Blue Boutique & Salon, and Blackmail Boutique and Atelier. Just cool. VERY cool.

El Tezontle Gallery [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

El Tezontle Gallery [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Heritage Boot Company - Handmade Fancy Boots. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Heritage Boot Company – Handmade Fancy Boots. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Blackmail. Stella Blue. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Blackmail. Stella Blue. [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

As I made my way back towards Jo’s, I thought I heard live music. We’re living in the Music Capitol of The World, so of course you’re going to hear music; But, how often do you hear live music from a guy named “Guitar Shawn” rockin’ out on the top of his van on South Congress Ave in front of the Austin famous Continental Club? Well… probably more often than one would think. CLASSIC! I tipped brother Shawn, he gestured a “Thank You Brother!” and just kept on jammin’ with his circa 1987 hair and Texas Lone Star State flag blowin’ in the wind. Right on! #Guitar_Shawn

"Guitar Shawn" - rockin' on South Congress Ave [Austin, TX]

“Guitar Shawn” – rockin’ on South Congress Ave [Austin, TX]

"Guitar Shawn" - South Congress Ave [Austin, TX]

#Guitar_Shawn [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

I just had coffee. Listened to Guitar Shawn. And now, I’m sitting on yet another bench, moderating a conversation (albeit argument) between 3 young ladies trying to figure out has the best ice cream in Austin, which then escalated quickly to the State of Texas. Did I mention I was right outside Amy’s Ice Cream? Look no further young ladies! AMY’S ICE CREAM is the answer! Is it the best ice cream in town? Perhaps. How about the best in Texas? It’s debatable. I’m a true Texas fan of Blue Bell Ice Cream (Brenham, TX); however, last time I bought a pint of homemade vanilla at HEB Grocery Store, I don’t recall any servers performing a magic show as they infuse gummy bears and half a Snicker’s Bar into a delicious mound of Belgian Chocolate ice cream that is then flipped into a waffle bowl. Amy’s is about the entertainment and the delivery! These dudes (and fabulous ladies) are like Wizards of Frozen Dairy! And oh yeah… it’s that goooooood!

Amy's Ice Cream - The Wizards of Frozen Dairy [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Amy’s Ice Cream – The Wizards of Frozen Dairy [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

As I was making my way back to the car, I found myself stopping outside of Hotel San Jose. A great place for date night, friends in town, afternoon or late night drink; but, although I live here in Austin… it’s a goal of mine to actually STAY a night at Hotel San Jose. Just an iconic hotel residence to call your home for a night (or two) in Austin, Texas.

Hotel San Jose - [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Hotel San Jose – [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Entrance to Hotel San Jose [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

Entrance to Hotel San Jose [South Congress Ave - Austin, TX]

My friends called. Lubbock and Houston had arrived. That was my 43rd Birthday morning. Unscripted. No purpose or cause. And it was spectacular! Maybe next time I’ll try to do more than just peruse ONE CITY BLOCK. Perhaps see 2 or 3 blocks of South Congress Avenue, or even venture (dare I say) to OTHER cool and hip parts of A U S T I N. Like I said… Not all Texas cities are created equal.

A U S T I N

A  U  S  T  I  N  .  T  E  X  A  S

SXSW 2013: Austin. TX. Music. Beer. Bacon. sat·is·fac·tion.


I LOVE travel; but, when you can’t travel for whatever reason (time, fear of clowns, money, stuck cooking a rack of lamb), the most satisfying remedy is a “staycation”. Call it snobbery. Call it a blessing. Call it lucky. Call it True (or False?). Call it whatever you want; BUT… I’m calling Austin, Texas one of my Top 10 Favorite Cities in the World! And, if you haven’t already guessed by the title of this blog (Austin GlobeTrekker), I live here and I’m LOVING every minute of it! By the way… is “snobbery” a real word? Or did I just make that up? Well, it’s a word now.

Austin, TX - City Skyline from Mt Bonnell

Austin, TX – City skyline from Mt Bonnell

The funny thing about Austin, is that you rarely actually meet somebody who was born and raised here. When you do… trust me, they’ll proudly let you know. And why not? The rest of us got here and stayed. My parents moved to Austin in 1991 while I was in college. I moved here in 2000. I think that gives me the right to call Austin my “home town”. You see, there are levels of “PRIDE”. Level 1 – PROUD to be an American. Level 2 – Proud to be from Texas. And then there’s Level 3 – Mach 5 with your hair on fire yelling and screaming while jumping out of an airplane strapped to the back of a great white shark – PROUD to live in Austin, TX!

T E X A S  2 0 1 3

T E X A S 2 0 1 3

I’ve recently discovered (thanks to Lesley CarterThe Most Interesting Travel Woman in the World!) that there are a LOT of people around the globe probably reading my blog for the 1st time who may (or may not) know anything about Austin, TX. For those of you who dare to venture deep into the heart of Texas – Austin Photo Book answers that ever looming question… Why do people LOVE Austin so much? (photography by my friend Peter Tsai @supertsai).

Austin Photo Book - photography by Peter Tsai

Austin Photo Book – photography by Peter Tsai

Last year, I wrote a blog called SXSW 2012: I LOVE Austin, TX! (Please… don’t move here!). And to steal some sentences from myself (well, I guess it’s not plagiarizing if I wrote them) I especially love Austin during the month of March, when Spring Break comes to town, and South by Southwest (SXSW) showcases the best in indie film, music and interactive from around the world. Last year’s highlight was spending time with my friend Kate (aka Cinnamon, aka K-Bone) and discovering artists like – Of Monsters and Men (Iceland), Team Me (Norway) and Ed Sheeran (England). Did I mention I also saw Jay-Z at Austin City Limits Moody Theater earlier that same week? But, I digress. The fact of the matter, it was GREAT to be in Austin, Texas! I remember thinking… I’m really happy I live here. If my memory serves me well, I think the night I dropped Kate off at her house, she turned from her front porch and yelled towards the car “Hey! Same time next year?”. Oh hail to the yeah! The only question was… How are we going to top 2012? That’s the beauty of Austin, Texas. You just never know!

SXSW 2013: Breakfast @KerbeyLane with Kate - The "tradition" begins!

SXSW 2013: Breakfast @KerbeyLane with Kate – The “tradition” begins!

Kerbey Lane Cafe - Austin, Texas USA. When you've just gotta have a good breakfast!

Kerbey Lane Cafe – Austin, Texas USA

I’m not sure if doing something for 2 years in a row is considered a “tradition”; but, for argument’s sake, let’s say that Kate and I have started a “tradition” because our 2013 Friday SXSW Experience began the same as our 2012 Friday SXSW Experience, with breakfast at an Austin culinary staple – the original Kerbey Lane Cafe on Kerbey Lane. Now don’t be fooled. There are other Kerbey Lane cafe’s; but, they’re not actually ON Kerbey Lane, so in my book… you’re not really at Kerbey Lane. Ok, that’s enough Shameless Free Advertising about Kerbey Lane. Go to the original. You’ll thank me later. I highly recommend the french toast with bacon. Cuz everything’s better with bacon. In the movie business, that would be called a “teaser”.

SXSW 2013: Tumblr + Gap's SXSW FILTER On Rainey Showcase [Friday, March 15, 2013]

SXSW 2013: Tumblr + Gap’s SXSW FILTER On Rainey Showcase [Friday, March 15, 2013]

Tumblr + Gap's SXSW FILTER On Rainey Showcase

Tumblr + Gap’s SXSW FILTER On Rainey Showcase

We really only had one requirement for SXSW 2013. Get to Rainey Street and enjoy the day of live music with our friends from Filter Magazine Showcase. They served us well last year, so keeping with tradition, that was our assignment. Mission Accomplished. I’m not sure what time it is socially acceptable to consume alcohol; but, let’s just say that when we hit our 1st venue on Rainey Street, we were the only souls at Craft Pride that didn’t actually work at Craft Pride. So what is this place? Well, the name says it all. Craft Pride is a local Austin bar that proudly (and exclusively) serves craft beers made and brewed in the State of Texas. I think “made” and “brewed” is the same thing; but, let’s just leave it alone. One of the coolest aspects of Craft Pride is that 90% of the interior’s wood was reclaimed after knocking down the previous establishment. I was feeling that Texas Pride!

Craft Pride - SXSW 2013 in Austin, TX

Craft Pride – SXSW 2013 in Austin, TX

Beer Flight @Craft Pride - Austin, TX [SXSW 2913]

Beer Flight @Craft Pride – Austin, TX [SXSW 2913]

Craft Pride # 61 Rainey Street in Austin, TX [SXSW 2013]

Craft Pride # 61 Rainey Street in Austin, TX [SXSW 2013]

I’m absolutely God awful about picking out wine, and unless I use Google, I couldn’t tell you a merlot from a pinot, or chardonnay. I thought I knew beer. Boy, was I wrong! Craft Pride has 50+ Texas brewed beers on tap. Stouts, lager, Scottish Ale, and my favorite… IPAs. The thing I loved most… as soon as time permitted for us to legally be served, they took the time and courtesy to truly educate us on their selections. You can’t help but fall in love with delectable talents of a well made beer. I would highly recommend 667 Neighbor of the Beast IPA, Deep Ellum Brewing IPA, Thirsty Goat Amber, and Jester King’s Wytchmayker  IPA. Sister Kate tasted a few; but, I think she was a fan of Texas Honey Ale, and of course 667 Neighbor of the Beast and Devil’s Backbone Brewery.We started out the day the right way! So, if you’re ever in Austin, TX head on down to Craft Pride at the Southernmost end of Austin’s historic Rainey Street, ask for Russell, and tell him Cookie sent ya!

 Russell @Craft Pride - Austin, TX [SXSW 2913]

Russell @Craft Pride – Austin, TX [SXSW 2913]

Mmmmmm.... Beer! Craft Pride - Austin, TX [SXSW 2013]

Mmmmmm…. Beer! Craft Pride – Austin, TX [SXSW 2013]

What's on Tap? @Craft Pride - 61 Rainey Street [Austin, TX - SXSW 2013]

What’s on Tap? @Craft Pride – 61 Rainey Street [Austin, TX - SXSW 2013]

While we were at Craft Pride, we met a couple from Boston. Low and behold, they were “just visiting” Austin (because they heard it was a cool city) and had no idea it also happened to be SXSW until they arrived. Once again, I love travelers who take the time to ask for the “local recommendation”, so I helped where I could. Grab a cone at Amy’s Ice Cream; spend Sunday afternoon at Ginny’s Little Longhorn for Chicken Shit Bingo (or any of the dive bars on Burnet Road – La La’s, Buddy’s, C-Hunt’s, Poodle Dog Lounge); 2am Breakfast at Magnolia Cafe where the sign says “Sorry We’re Open”; stand under the rotunda at the State Capitol Building; check out the shops, bars, restaurants and food trucks on South Congress; Get a good view of Lake Austin and the city skyline from the top of Mt Bonnell; eat some real genuine Texas BBQ at the original Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX; take a short road trip for Sunday Jazz Brunch at Nutty Brown Cafe (Dripping Springs, TX); but, first and foremost, you’re already doing the #1 best thing you can do in Austin, TX… experiencing SXSW in the Live Music Capital of the World!

Texas State Capitol - Austin, Texas USA

Texas State Capitol – Austin, Texas USA

Texas State Capitol Bldg in Austin - "Don't Mess With Texas!"

Texas State Capitol Bldg in Austin – “Don’t Mess With Texas!”

Amy's Ice Cream - Austin, Texas - "A True Frozen Dessert Experience!"

Amy’s Ice Cream – Austin, Texas – “A True Frozen Dessert Experience!”

Magnolia Cafe - Austin, Texas - "Sorry, We're Open" - late night pancakes with my friends Robyn and Jaime

Magnolia Cafe – Austin, Texas – “Sorry, We’re Open”

I can’t remember the rest of the conversation with the Bostonians, because Kate came running back into the bar to tell me “You’ve GOT to check this out. They’ve got a BACON food truck on the back patio!”. She had me at BACON.

BACON Food Truck at Craft Pride on Rainey Street - March 15, 2013 [Austin, TX]

BACON Food Truck at Craft Pride on Rainey Street – March 15, 2013 [Austin, TX]

SXSW 2013: Javelina - 69 Rainey Street [Austin, TX]

SXSW 2013: Javelina – 69 Rainey Street [Austin, TX]

The day continued with us walking aimlessly northward on Rainey Street. As mentioned previously, our intent… attending the Filter Magazine Showcase on Rainey Street (presented by Tumblr + GAP). The afternoon at Clive Bar was filled with music by Vacationer, Ducktails, Peace, Shout Out Louds, and Ra Ra Riot. I can tell you that before that day… I had never heard of ANY of these bands; but, there’s just something special and cool about chilling with friends and music lovers from all over the world in your home town. I couldn’t of been happier. And then it happened…

SXSW 2013: See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil

SXSW 2013: See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil

SXSW 2013: Chillin' with the LA crew on Rainey Street [Austin, TX]

SXSW 2013: Chillin’ with the LA crew on Rainey Street [Austin, TX]

SXSW 2013: Without ME it's just AWESO

SXSW 2013: Without ME it’s just AWESO

SXSW 2013: Live Music in Austin, TX

SXSW 2013: Live Music in Austin, TX

SXSW 2013: Tumblr + GAP - Filter Showcase on Rainey Street

SXSW 2013: Tumblr + GAP – Filter Showcase on Rainey Street

KATE! SXSW 2013!

KATE! SXSW 2013!

I was talking with my friends, snapping pictures (like I always do), laughing and joking around with a group of folks from Los Angeles. I put the camera in my bag and slung it over my shoulder whilst turning to take my beer back from my friend Marie. During the process, I accidentally bumped into the guy behind me. I sincerely apologized with an “Oh man, I’m so sorry bro.” He said, “No worries, it’s cool”. I started making small talk with him, and then my friend Marie says to me “Errr… Jason. You know this is Usher, right?”. To the surprise of many, black people blush. Well, at least I did! I was just having a conversation with him like it was nobody’s business. He laughed, we shook hands, and then did that brotherly hug thing. He was beyond cool, calm and collected. Just enjoying Austin, Texas and listening to some live music at SXSW. It was like meeting 007. Just cool.

SXSW 2013: It's good to be the King! (or Queen)

SXSW 2013: It’s good to be the King! (or Queen)

SXSW 2013: Enjoying life w/new friends from LA

SXSW 2013: Enjoying life w/new friends from LA

SXSW 2013: The crowd is hopping!

SXSW 2013: The crowd is hopping!

SXSW 2013: Enoying the music....

SXSW 2013: Enoying the music….

We talked for maybe 5mins longer, and then he was discovered. I politely told him it was a pleasure hanging with him. Then I realized WAIT… this is Usher! Nobody will believe me! So, I asked. Can we get a picture? Because nobody will believe me. In typical Usher fashion, he said “Of course!”. Now… the problem with handing over your Nikon D7000 DSLR camera for people to take a picture of you and Usher… there’s ZERO time to give them a crash course in using the camera. Needless to say, I took what I could get which is Photo 1 with Usher blinking. Photo 2 with my head almost getting cut out of the picture; but, between the 2 photos… you get the idea. So for my “Are You Kidding Me?” award, the recipient is none other than Usher. Buy his albums, name your kid Usher, watch The Voice. I don’t care. Whatever you have to do… support that guy, because he is truly a class act and I’ll forever be a fan.

Usher & Me (Austin GlobeTrekker) - Tumblr + GAP - Filter Showcase on Rainey Street

Usher & Me (Austin GlobeTrekker) – Tumblr + GAP – Filter Showcase on Rainey Street

Usher - SXSW 2013: Austin, TX

Usher – SXSW 2013: Austin, TX

The afternoon turned to evening, and the music progressed, as did the capacity of the crowds. After a fun-filled day of excursions on Rainey Street at places like Clive Bar, Icenhauer’s, and The Bungalow, it only made sense that we venture back to where it all began at Craft Pride. It was time for a Deep Ellum IPA and a BACON sandwich (which just so happened to have a piece of grilled chicken on it).

SXSW 2013: Craft Pride - 61 Rainey Street [Austin, TX]

SXSW 2013: Craft Pride – 61 Rainey Street [Austin, TX]

Taps at Craft Beer

Taps at Craft Beer

sat·is·fac·tion (s t s-f k sh n). As we made our way out of the downtown scene, reflecting on the unlikely series of events our day unfolded, my olfactory senses were on fire with the carnival smell of funnel cakes doused with powdered sugar. My partner-in-crime launched herself from the vehicle as I sat patiently awaiting her return. As Kate jumped back into the car with a white paper plate bursting with funnel cake, we smiled (actually giggled) and I could only think of 2 words to sum up SXSW 2013. bad. ass.

The Most Interesting Travel Woman in the World!


I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about a blog; but, if you are ever so lucky to be inspired by somebody who aspires to fulfill the travel dreams and goals you have in life… then why the heck not? My blog is pretty freakin’ awesome (just kidding); but, if you aren’t already following my favorite blog – Bucket List Publications well, then it’s time to come out from that rock you’ve been trapped under.

Aoraki [Mt Cook] from Pete's Lookout, New Zealand, South Island

Aoraki [Mt Cook] from Pete’s Lookout – New Zealand, South Island

On my other blog – Hey Cameron! We have a few awards that we give out on a regular basis – “Are You Kidding Me?” and “Cameron’s Shameless Free Advertising”. Sometimes, the Are You Kidding Me Award isn’t the award you want to receive. Because it’s typically for something that you shouldn’t have done. For example, my Dad got the award one month, because he wasn’t paying attention and our son (18mos at the time) was gnawing on a bottle cap. Then he tried to cover by saying “No worries. It will sharpen him teeth mon” (my Dad’s Jamaican by the way). I mean really… Are you kidding me? As my wife said… “He’s not a wolf!”. Of course, sometimes you can get the “Are You Kidding Me?” Award for things like zip lining through the treetops of a Costa Rican rainforest. Now THAT was fun! By the way… I still need to write a blog about that experience in Guanacaste, Costa Rica (May 2006). Sorry for the tease.

Gulfo de Papagayo, Costa Rica [May 2006]

Gulfo de Papagayo, Costa Rica [May 2006]

Cameron’s Shameless Free Advertising is just that. We don’t get paid to talk about them, and we aren’t skeered to share our knowledge and experience about the recipients of this prestigious award. Past recipients have been Target (LOVE Tar-jay!); Team in Training – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (1st class organization that is doing sooooo much for the cancer community); Movember – an awesome charity organization that I’m a part of that is changing the face of men’s health. Plus, we get to rock a wicked awesome mustache (Mo) every November; but, most of the time, it’s for our favorite restaurants and family road trip destinations. How cool would it be to award entire countries (like Slovenia) for their fantastic and highly underrated beauty and wonderful people?

Sunrise - Lake Bled, Slovenia [May 2011]

Sunrise – Lake Bled, Slovenia [May 2011]

I think you see where I’m going with this. Since I really don’t have enough material from my own travels to always talk about myself… I’ve decided to add a new dimension to my blogging experience and highlight people, places and things that resemble the epitome of my Austin GlobeTrekker slogan – TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER.

So, without further ado (what a stupid saying), the recipient of the Austin GlobeTrekker 1st ever “Are You Kidding Me?” AND “Cameron’s Shameless Free Advertising” Award goes to Lesley Carter – Bucket List Publications.

bucketlistcolourlogo_no-background_4004

And here’s why… My favorite travel quote is “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”St. Augustine. Trust me… I’m trying to read as many pages as humanly possible in this book we call life; but, often I get in my own way to accomplish the dreams and destinations I want to fulfill. Fjord Region, Norway; experiencing the Serengeti from a hot air balloon, jumping with the Masai tribesmen in Africa; feeling the sun rise AND set at Machu Piccu; Switzerland by train; hiking to Base Camp of Mt Everest @17,000ft; standing on the Charles Bridge in Prague; Bali – just Bali; or watching the Maori perform the Haka in New Zealand. Wait… already done that. HIGHLY recommend New Zealand, South Island by the way. I could go on and on. I’ve already experienced a significant amount of joy and happiness in my travels to approx 20 countries; but, travel is like people who get tattoos. You get one and it sticks with you. Then you have an unprecedented desire for more… and then more. I don’t have any tattoos by the way; but, a friend of mine described it that way. As Lesley so eloquently states in her blog…

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”Eleanor Roosevelt

Because of her immense passion to not only travel; but, explore, dream AND discover, she has entered My Destination’s Biggest, Baddest, Bucket List Contest for a chance to win a trip around the world and $50,000! SIX months, SIX continents, All Expenses Paid, Your Choice of Destinations! AWESOME!

She is not my friend. I do not personally know her; But, I will tell you this… Lesley Carter has more genuine passion and love for travel, people, people who travel, locals, teaching and learning that she is the epitome of this contest. With deadline of March 31, 2013, the 7 of you that actually read my blog have a chance to help Lesley Carter WIN this contest! Here’s how. Watch the video below to see her My Destination video submission on Fiji, and learn more about her. After watching the video, click on logo in my sidebar, or the following link to VOTE – http://www.mydestination.com/users/lesley/bbb#tab

 

Right now, Lesley is in 1st Place. Let’s keep her there! After all, she is… The Most Interesting Travel Woman in the World!

Good Luck Lesley! CHEERS!

TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

Colorado? VAIL Yeah!


Vail, CO [Fall 2012]. Experience the pristine beauty of the Rockies

Vail, CO [Fall 2012]. Experience the pristine beauty of the Rockies

My wife and I have a weird unwritten (but definitely spoken) rule to not travel to the same destination twice, until we cross off a million bajillion places that we have on our “bucket list”. For example… I have been to Spain. She has not. OK, so now we have to wait on Spain. She has been to Thailand. I have not. I have been to Ireland. She has not. She has been to Bora Bora and I have not… wait a minute! I think I got the raw end of the deal here! The bottom line and awesome thing about travel… there are no rules. Other than the whole passport and getting flu vaccinations or visas to get into certain countries; but, I think you get what I’m saying. All I know is this… 2012 has passed us by, which means I get to play my favorite January game of “Where do we go in 2013?”. I’m pitching Norway, Czech Republic, Greek Islands, Bali, or Machu Picchu for 2013. If none of those selections work out, I’m breaking my own stupid rule and going back to either Canada, or Colorado.

One of America's most beautiful drives - Vail to Aspen, CO over Independence Pass

One of America’s most beautiful drives – Vail to Aspen, CO over Independence Pass

In fact, I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to blog about it; but, we took a 5-day trip to Vail, Colorado for my wife’s birthday (September 2012). Two words… AWESOME! Technically, that’s one word. But, if you say it twice… AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME! OK, now that’s 3 words. I went to camp just outside Buena Vista, CO when I was a junior in high school. I guess the state left such an impression on me that I went back the very next year, and lived in Colorado for part of the Summer after my senior year in high school, before I went off to college (Texas A&M). I fell in love with Colorado. Yeah… that was 25 years ago. I have NO idea why it took me so long to go back; but, I’m glad we finally did. I actually think I’d move there… if it wasn’t for the fact I wouldn’t know what to do for a living. I’m obviously not that great of a blogger, so there goes that genius idea. I could be a food or travel critic. Probably not. And then there’s that thing called WINTER. Cold weather and I don’t do well for extended periods of time. That’s why I’m still sticking to Cooke’s Law of Meteorology – “Never live somewhere that gets colder than your age on a regular basis”. It’s a GOOD rule to follow. I mean really. Think about it. But, then there’s Vail. I’m tempted to break my rule.

Vail, Colorado [September 2012]

Breakfast @Jack-n-Grill in Denver, CO [Sept 2012]
Breakfast @Jack-n-Grill in Denver, CO [Sept 2012]

Vail, Colorado [Fall 2012]

Vail, Colorado [Fall 2012]

I’m not going to go through the play by play of when we got to the airport and security and blah blah blah. I’m just going to fast forward to eating one of the best breakfast’s I’ve EVER had at Jack-n-Grill in Denver, CO. It’s not a fancy place. It’s a cool place. And no… I did not try to tackle the 7lb burrito. My philosophy is that you shouldn’t consume anything that weighs the same as a newborn baby. No, I had the breakfast tacos. Beans – excellent. Tortillas – good (I’m from Texas, so biased). The meat – tasty! The green chile – If God made green chile, this is what it would taste like. Unbelievable! It infused the entire meal and made it beyond memorable. I think Anna wanted to bottle it and send some back home. Next stop… VAIL!

Covered Bridge - Vail, CO [Fall 2012]

Covered Bridge – Vail, CO [Fall 2012]

Character and Charm in Vail Village, CO

Character and Charm in Vail Village, CO

Clock Tower - Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

Clock Tower – Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

afternoon stroll through pristine Vail Village, CO [Fall 2012]

Morning stroll through pristine Vail Village, CO [Fall 2012]

Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

Fast forward beyond our breakfast fiesta, and we hitched our wagon to I-70 for the absolutely gorgeous drive through the Colorado Rockies towards Vail. A few years ago, we went up to Vermont and New Hampshire to watch the fall leaves change in mid-September. Call it bad timing, or poor planning on my part; but, we got there too early. Great time, don’t get me wrong; however, if you want to see the fall leaves in New England, plan your trip for the last week of September, early part of October. Colorado was a completely different story. Planning was perfect. Within the 5-days we were there, we saw the Aspens change from green – light green – yellowish green – to full blown bright yellow colors. Magnificent!

Scenic View from the top of Vail Mountain [Fall 2012]

Scenic View from the top of Vail Mountain [Fall 2012]

Magnificent Fall Foliage in Vail, CO [September 2012]

Magnificent Fall Foliage in Vail, CO [September 2012]

Anna & Jason - Vail Mountain [September 2012]

Anna & Jason – Vail Mountain [September 2012]

I typically don’t say a whole lot in my blog about the hotels we stay at, because if you know anything about the kind of traveler I am, then you know that a hotel is really just a vantage point to explore my destination, safely store my luggage and comfortably sleep at night. But, sometimes it’s more than that, and I can honestly say that The Sebastian Hotel in Vail Village was a true gem. I’m too lazy to write another review of the hotel, so I’ll just cut & paste what I wrote on TripAdvisor. Don’t worry. I gave them 5-Stars.

Fire Pit @Sebastian Hotel - Vail, CO [September 2012]

Fire Pit @Sebastian Hotel – Vail, CO [September 2012]

FROST BAR - Sebastian Hotel - Vail, CO

FROST BAR – Sebastian Hotel – Vail, CO

The Lobby @ Sebastian Hotel - Vail, CO [September 2012]

The Lobby @ Sebastian Hotel – Vail, CO [September 2012]

 “The Sebastian… They just get it”

5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2012

It was my wife’s birthday, and I needed a cool Fall getaway from the Texas heat. I chose Vail, CO. If you’re anything like me, you do your research, read reviews, then battle with yourself to figure out which hotel to book. I feel like I can pat myself on the back and thank our fellow Trip Advisors for selecting The Sebastian Hotel. Why? They just get it. If you want class, comfort, and style without a pretentious attitude, then The Sebastian is the place for you. From the front door to the lobby, to the restaurants, Frost bar, library, and spa, you immediately know you’ve arrived somewhere cool and worth talking about to your friends. Besides the incredibly friendly and accommodating staff… The location in Vail Village is perfect. Especially since it was during Oktoberfest. The Deluxe rooms are clean, quiet, and comfortable. Sure… we overlooked a back alley; but, even that was nice and gave us a view of the mountains. Next time, i’ll spring for a higher grade room; but, the offseason prices couldn’t be more worth it. Yes, I said “next time” because we’ll definitely be back. Did I mention the abundance of free water? Everyone else did, so thought i would too. Trust me… It’s a nice perk to have in the dry mountain air. HUGE Thanks to Kevin, Lance, Kiki, Daniel and the valet/concierge staff who were standouts in making us feel at home.

Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
Vail Mountain, CO [Fall 2012]

Vail Mountain, CO [Fall 2012]

Now that I’m reading my own blog about Colorado, I completely forgot it was Vail Oktoberfest in Vail Village. Ahhh… Oktoberfest! I spent the majority of the day eating bratwurst, pretzels, drinking draft German beer, while watching people run around the village dancing and singing in leather breeches (aka lederhosen).  Plus, I had a 5 minute conversation with an awesome man named Helmut dressed up in lederhosen who apparently was from New Braunfels, Texas. Just kidding. He was straight out of the Bavarian Alps. In fact, this nice gentlemen happened to be Helmut Fricker, lead singer of the oom-pah music on stage for Vail Oktoberfest with the Rhinelanders. Nice! Yep! Sounds like a pretty authentic Oktoberfest to me! Sure, it’s not the REAL Oktoberfest; but, the Spirit of Bavaria was there with us, and Vail Village did an awesome job putting on the event. The wife has another birthday coming up this year. Ironically, it’s the same time as last year, so Colorado again? Oh Vail yeah!
Vail Oktoberfest 2012

Vail Oktoberfest 2012

Austin GlobeTrekker - Vail Oktoberfest [Sept 2012]

Austin GlobeTrekker – Vail Oktoberfest [Sept 2012]

One word... HELMUT! - Vail Oktoberfest 2012

One word… HELMUT! – Vail Oktoberfest 2012

Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders - Vail Oktoberfest 2012

Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders – Vail Oktoberfest 2012

Oktoberfest 2012 - Vail Village, CO

Oktoberfest 2012 – Vail Village, CO

Lederhosen! Oktoberfest - Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

Lederhosen! Oktoberfest – Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

Thank You Vail Village for an awesome Oktoberfest 2012!

Thank You Vail Village for an awesome Oktoberfest 2012!

Oktoberfest - Vail, CO [September 2012]

Oktoberfest – Vail, CO [September 2012]

Another great part of travel is exploring your surrounding areas. We took a day trip from Vail to Aspen over the famous Independence Pass. Here’s the interesting part. I have a friend who is scared to death of being scared; but, somehow always tells me about these horrifying excursions she takes to haunted houses during Halloween. Doesn’t make any sense. Of course, I’m being a hypocrite. I absolutely LOVE the mountains. Are you a beach, city, or mountains person? Hands down… I’m a mountain person. BUT… I’m scared of heights. How does that even make sense? Now fast forward (or actually go back in time) to our trip over Independence Pass. I have NEVER seen switchbacks like that in my entire life. I’ve had a hair raising van ride down to Skipper’s Canyon in Queenstown, New Zealand (favorite place in the world by the way) and thought I would go off the side of the road in Slovenia after taking a wrong turn up a mountain pass from Skofja Loka to Lake Bohinj; but, Independence Pass in Colorado, USA takes the cake. Of course, you forget about all that when you reach the summit and realize you are at 12,000ft above sea level. Best way to describe it is peaceful and majestic.
Independence Pass - Continental Divide [Elevation 12,095ft]

Independence Pass – Continental Divide [Elevation 12,095ft]

This is what 12,-095ft Elevation looks like. Continental Divide - Independence Pass

This is what 12,-095ft Elevation looks like. Continental Divide – Independence Pass

Fall Aspen Foliage - Hwy 82 to Aspen,CO

Fall Aspen Foliage – Hwy 82 to Aspen,CO

Aspen Trees on the way to Aspen, CO [Fall 2012]

Aspen Trees on the way to Aspen, CO [Fall 2012]

Scenic Fall Views on the road from Vail to Aspen, CO

Scenic Fall Views on the road from Vail to Aspen, CO

Blue Skies. Nothing but Blue Skies. Aspen, CO [Fall 2012]

Blue Skies. Nothing but Blue Skies. Aspen, CO [Fall 2012]

Aspen was a very beautiful town. Lots of character; however, it just didn’t have the same “aura” as Vail. Maybe if I had a 8,000sq ft log home in the mountains I would appreciate it more; but, I just didn’t feel “welcome”. But, that’s travel! You live and explore. No regrets. I said the same thing about Madrid when I went to Spain in 2003. I prefer and absolutely LOVE Barcelona; however, still happy and proud of my friends and I for at least experiencing Madrid. One really cool thing we did see in Aspen… A rugby tournament. Who knew?! We certainly didn’t. These are the types of surprises you hope to stumble upon during your travels. The tournament was Aspen Ruggerfest 2012 and wonderfully organized by the Aspen Rugby Club, more formally known as the Gentlemen of Aspen. Nothing close to World Rugby Championship in Dublin, Ireland (1999). Nevertheless… a pretty nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And my wife got to see her first ever rugby match! SWEET!
Aspen, CO - Fall 2012

Aspen, CO – Fall 2012

Aspen Ruggerfest 2012 - Aspen, CO

Aspen Ruggerfest 2012 – Aspen, CO

Great day for watching a rugby tournament - Aspen Ruggerfest 2012

Great day for watching a rugby tournament – Aspen Ruggerfest 2012

Aspen Ruggerfest 2012 - Aspen Rugby Club - Gentlemen of Aspen

Aspen Ruggerfest 2012 – Aspen Rugby Club – Gentlemen of Aspen

OWL Cigars - Aspen, CO [FALL 2012]

OWL Cigars – Aspen, CO [FALL 2012]

In Texas, we have a saying. If you don’t like the weather… stick around. It’ll change. Unless it’s the Summer. Then we have 2 types of weather. Stupid Hot. Wicked Evil Hot. With all the weather services out there, it is practically impossible to be unprepared for a trip. Even still, I find myself watching the news when I travel, just so I can see what is going on in the local community I’m visiting. Boy howdy did we get a surprise one night watching the weather. I haven’t worn a tie since I got married in May 2006, so trust me when I say that I don’t entirely judge a person’s professionalism by their attire; but, seriously Vail? Seriously? What in THE wide wide world of weather is this dude wearing? You know folks… There’s “Johnny Football” from Texas A&M University who won The 2012 Heisman. And then there’s this guy. We’ll just call him “Joe Weather”. He must have lost a bet with his co-workers, because I’m not sure I’m trusting the forecast from Joe Weather. Shameful. But, definitely funny!
"Joe Weather" - Vail, CO - Cloudy with a chance of Western shirts.

“Joe Weather” – Vail, CO – Cloudy with a chance of Western shirts.

NEWS ANCHOR BILL (chuckling as he speaks): Ok Joe… so you’re predicting we’ll see this season’s 1st snowfall by September 1st?
JOE WEATHER: Yep. The current cross winds over Norway seem to be shifting early this year in a longitudinal vacuum that is sending precipitation across Canada forcing the pressure down to Colorado, so I’m predicting snow by late August, 1st week of snow. (I made this up by the way)
NEWS ANCHOR BILL: Hmmm… OK. Personally, I think you’re nuts; but, if you’re right… this will be good for ski season and the local economy
JOE WEATHER: If I’m wrong, you can pick out the craziest Western shirt you can find and I’ll eat crow and deliver my weather forecast dressed up like Will Rogers on LIVE television
NEWS ANCHOR BILL: (laughing with the whole news crew). Errr… I’ll take that bet
Shopping for Moose in Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

Shopping for Moose in Vail Village, CO [September 2012]

Some people take vacations just for the cuisine. Or as I like to call it – The Culinary Experience. If you’re anything like me… then you’re in luck my friends, because another great attribute of Vail is the food and beverages. Whether it’s a bagel and a skillfully crafted cappuccino at locally owned Loaded Joe’s delicious eats, coffee & drinks, craft beer night at Atwater on the Gore, breakfast at The Little Diner in Lionshead Village, hot chocolate and lamb chops on the patio at Up the Creek Bar & Grill, or an excellent 5*Star birthday dinner with pork chops and peaches at Sweet Basil in Vail Village, your taste buds will be rewarded by the wide range of culinary experiences in Vail. In fact, as we were leaving, they were about to start Vail Restaurant Month. You heard it here! The Culinary Experience.
Cappucinno @Loaded Joe's - Vail Village, CO [Fall 2012]

Cappucinno @Loaded Joe’s – Vail Village, CO [Fall 2012]

Loaded Joe's - Vail, CO [Sept 2012]

Loaded Joe’s – Vail, CO [Sept 2012]

Coffee @Joe's. Loaded that is... Vail Village, CO

Coffee @Joe’s. Loaded that is… Vail Village, CO

Myrcenary Double IPA - Atwater on the Gore - Vail, CO

Myrcenary Double IPA – Atwater on the Gore – Vail, CO

Craft Beer Night - Atwater on the Gore - Vail, CO [Sept 2012]

Craft Beer Night – Atwater on the Gore – Vail, CO [Sept 2012]

Lamb Chops - Up The Creek - Vail Village [Fall 2012]

Lamb Chops – Up The Creek – Vail Village [Fall 2012]

Birthday Dinner for Anna @Sweet Basil - Vail, CO [September 2012]

Birthday Dinner for Anna @Sweet Basil – Vail, CO [September 2012]

Best Breakfast in Vail! @The Little Diner - Lionshead Village, CO

The Little Diner – Lionshead Village – Vail, CO

Best Breakfast in Vail! @The Little Diner - Lionshead Village, CO

Best Breakfast in Vail! @The Little Diner – Lionshead Village, CO

Vail Restaurant Month - FALL 2012

Vail Restaurant Month – VailRestaurantMonth.com

I’ll part ways by saying this… If you’re looking for a cost effective 3-5 day mountain getaway in the continental United States, it’s really hard for me to not highly recommend the pristine beauty of the Colorado Rockies. Colorado? VAIL yeah!

Colorado? VAIL Yeah!

Colorado? VAIL Yeah!

Why Patagonia? 180° SOUTH. INSPIRATION is FREE.


Photograph of Patagonia by Peter Essick. 2004 National Geographic. All rights reserved.

INSPIRATION is FREE. 7:14am. Tuesday morning. I’m brushing my teeth when my 4 year old (Cameron) walks in and says… “Daddy! Turn off the water! You’re wasting the Earth!”. At age 4, he can identify the parts of an Emperor penguin, explain the life cycle of a butterfly, count to 100 in Spanish, and name all 7 continents. When I was 4… I ate dirt, shoved a No. 2 pencil up my nose, and realized I had an intense and uncomfortable fear of clowns.

If you’re following my blog, you already know travel is the catalyst that fuels my soul. It is the essence of my life and the foundation of my desire to learn. Keyword… my. I’ve been absent from my blog for a few months and feeling a bit sorry for myself. Shame on me! Primarily, because I don’t have any BIG trips planned anytime soon and we missed the London Olympics that my wife and I so adamantly planned to attend. Prior to two children mind you. That’s life. It made me think. Besides the comment Cameron made about me “wasting the Earth”, I was challenged and inspired to think less about my interests… and more about how many people are out there every day actually making a difference in this world and educating future generations.

A couple names came to mind. Yvon Chouinard. Doug Tompkins. Go ahead and add Kris Tompkins to the list of remarkable educators/conservationists; plus, a 1968 journey from Ventura, CA to Patagonia, South America and you’ve got one hell of an inspiring adventure! If you are unfamiliar with these names, Chouinard started a company called Patagonia, as an homage to his life-changing journey south. Tompkins started a company called The North Face. I own multiple pieces of their apparel (which I absolutely LOVE); but, that is not even close to the reason why they are an inspiration to me (and the world). It’s because of their adamant defense of nature. Like my 4yr old (Cameron) said… you’re wasting the Earth! These 3 pioneers are concentrating their energy and efforts to make sure we don’t “waste the Earth”. A good place to start. Patagonia.  One simple question: Why Patagonia? One simple answer: Because it is one of the last wild places on Earth.

Flash forward to 2008 and a living documentary by Woodshed Films called 180° SOUTH. The adventure was inspired 10 years after Jeff Johnson saw the film “Mountain of Storm” about Chouinard and Tompkin’s journey to Patagonia in 1968. The Plan. Step 1. Hitch a ride on the sailing vessel “Sea Bear” enroute to Patagonian Chile. Step 2. Climb Corcovado Peak in Patagonia. This film is 100% worth watching for the fact it is an ADVENTURE, as best described by Yvon Chouinard: “The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts”. Believe me. Jeff’s journey DEFINITELY becomes the quintessential definition of ADVENTURE. Jeff Johnson’s journey takes him from Ventura, CA to a month in the warm waters of Mexico’s Pacific Coast in Baja, then onward to The Galapagos Islands, and a unique mythical experience in Easter Island / Rapa Nui before embarking on Patagonia, Chile. An unbelievable and inspiring adventure! Follow the Journey! 

Typically, this is where I blab on and on and on about my experiences. Where I’ve been. What I’ve seen. Who I’ve met. This time… I’m blogging approx 600 words that simply say… This inspires me.

You don’t have to climb a mountain, surf the biggest wave, or start your own outdoor adventure clothing, apparel and gear company. Find your passion. Follow it. Make a difference. INSPIRATION is FREE.

Check out the following links:

180° SOUTH: http://www.180south.com/index.html

Why Patagonia? http://www.conservacionpatagonica.org/

The North Face: http://www.thenorthface.com/en_US/index.html

Patagonia: http://www.patagonia.com/us/home

180° SOUTH Soundtrack: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/180-south-original-soundtrack/id377968698

SXSW 2012: I LOVE Austin, TX! (Please… don’t move here!)


Most of my friends, family, co-workers (and that dude with the sarcastic personality I see in the mirror every morning) will tell you that I complain about a LOT of things… but, living in Austin, Texas is certainly NOT one of them. I LOVE Austin, TX! (Please… don’t move here!). I especially love Austin during the month of March, when Spring Break comes to town, and South by Southwest (SXSW) showcases the best in indie film, music and interactive from around the world. In my humble opinion, this is the time of year that Austin more than lives up to its rightfully earned title of the Live Music Capital of The World. What? Don’t believe me? Come and listen for yourself.

SXSW 2012 - Of Monsters and Men - Filter Magazine's Showdown at Cedar Street - Austin, TX USA

When I got back to work on Monday morning, a co-worker asked me a simple question… “What was your favorite part of SXSW 2012?”. Then he shoved a microphone in front of my face and told me “Smile! You’re on national television.” Then I yelled out “I LOVE BACON!” and ran screaming from the building. OK, I made that part up; but, I truly had to think about it. If you’re anything like me (if so… I’m sorry!) then your answer would be “… it depends”. Kind of like asking somebody “What is your favorite travel destination?”. I’m not good with statistics; but, probably 8 out of 10 times, you’re going to get a different answer. In case you were wondering… my favorite travel destination is New Zealand (so far). I’ll get to my favorite part of SXSW 2012 before I finish the blog. Promise.

SXSW 2012 - Frost Bank Bldg - Downtown Austin, Texas USA

I have a LOT of friends who live in Austin and say point blank “I don’t do SXSW”. I also have a LOT of friends who live in Austin, do ALL the research, know everything about every band, party, event, and can tell you when, where, why and how to be an intricate part of SXSW Culture. I am neither of these people. I don’t despise SXSW. And I don’t eat, sleep, and breathe SXSW either; But, oh mama! I do like to EXPERIENCE SXSW.

The Lone Star Flag

The Lone Star Flag - Welcome to Texas!

This year, my SXSW 2012 Experience happened by accident. My wife and I were planning a 24hr overnight break from our boys (ages 4 and 2). Hopefully, no explanation necessary; but, if you need one… sometimes folks gotta get away! Even if it’s just for 24hrs. I think you understand. Anyway, I digress. March 17th. That was the day of reckoning. Marked it on the calendar, and then came up with a GENIUS idea to take Friday, March 16th off work. Why? Because, it just seemed like the right thing to do the day before I was going out of town. I’m telling you… I REALLY need to come out from under that rock more often, because I  I quickly realized that the week of March 12-16th was Spring Break here in Austin, TX. Wait a second… the music portion of SXSW starts during this week!  Good thing I accidentally took off work for Friday, March 16th! And Oh snap! March 17th is St Patrick’s Day and I’ll be at La Cantera Resort in the San Antonio – Texas Hill Country with my wife (Anna)! Woo! Hoo!

Texas State Capitol - Austin, Texas USA

It’s unfortunate that I was too stupid to actually take the whole week off work. Nevertheless, I knew my 2012 SXSW Experience was going to be good. I just didn’t know HOW good. After exchanging texts and emails on Facebook with my friend Paul in New York the previous week, he informed me that he and the Dos Equis Team would be in Austin for SXSW interactive. They live in New York. A 20-25min drive downtown was a no brainer for me to spend time with them (again).

Amy's Ice Cream - Austin, Texas - "A True Frozen Dessert Experience!"

I was a little bit overwhelmed by the annihilation of what used to be downtown Austin, Texas; but, I have NEVER had a bad time with my friend Paul, so I put on my big boy SXSW boots and saddled up ready for the rodeo. Not literally. Just figuratively. I was ready to go with the flow and take on whatever the night had in store for us. He calmly says “well… we can grab a drink, bite to eat, walk around, or try to catch some live music somewhere.” You know me! Well… the 7 of you reading this blog really don’t know me; but, I was game for whatever. Then he nonchalantly says… “Oh wait, I forgot… we got tickets to see Jay-Z [at Austin City Limits (ACL) Moody Theater]“. I think I may have dropped a few four letter words at this point.

AMEX Synch Show Presents Jay-Z LIVE from SXSW 2012 in Austin, TX

Jay-Z LIVE at Austin City Limits (ACL) Moody Theater for SXSW 2012

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it maybe 15 or 16 times… “The greatest surprises in life are the adventures never expected”. That’s my sarcastic way of saying “It ain’t a surprise if you already know what’s gonna happen!”, and this was certainly unexpected and definitely a great surprise. Sincere Thanks to my friends Paul, Greg, Stephen and the rest of the crew from Dos Equis for their kindness and generosity. Also, to American Express – AMEX Synch Show for bringing one of (if not THE) greatest hip-hop artists to Austin City Limits (ACL) Moody Theater. I would show you my horrible attempt to capture part of the show; but, what’s the point? AMEX put together a rebroadcast of the show which is definitely worth exploring. Song after song after song. I forgot just how many hits Jay-Z has. Heart of the City, Izzo, 99 Problems, Hard Knock Life, Where I’m From, and Public Service Announcement (just to name a few). THIS is why Jay-Z is such a great artist and global phenomenon.

As if the night couldn’t get any better (or more surprising) we eventually made our way to the infamous 6th Street for a little adrenaline rush with Dada Life – Stockholm, Sweden. You know you’re in for an adventure when a musician’s motto is… “Destroy dance music and have fun. Don’t look back in the past. Always go forward. Don’t think too much. Always follow the money. Do the Dada.” Probably one of the craziest shows I’ve ever seen in my life. Granted, I really don’t get out from under that rock a whole lot; But, when a bunch of people get on stage in banana outfits and jump around while the crowd is going bananas with glow sticks all juiced up on one too many red bull’s, it was clear that at 41… I was too old for this $@#%! But, FUN FUN FUN FUN. Dada Life was a great SXSW Experience. After all, I got to partake in my favorite pastime… PEOPLE WATCHING!

Might I remind you that this was all on a MONDAY night? Lucky for me, I had to be at work on Tuesday morning, so at almost 1am CST, I said goodbye to the Dos Equis Crew on W. 6th Street, thanked them for a wonderful time at SXSW, and called it a night. That gave me Tues, Wed, and Thurs to rest up for my Friday SXSW Experience. Knowing my wife (Anna) is Numero Uno on my list for fun and adventure, I knew she was working all day and could not partake of the festivities. Rats! That meant I had to recruit a “partner in crime”. Insert my good friend Kathryn aka Kate, aka K-Bone, aka “Cinnamon”. Fun, cool, great attitude, fellow music lover, fun, and awesome friend. Did I mention FUN? What’s not to love about Kate?

Me and My SXSW 2012 "Partner in Crime" Kate - Austin, TX

Breakfast is supposed to be the best meal of the day; therefore, Kate and I started out our Friday SXSW Experience at an Austin culinary staple – the original Kerbey Lane Cafe on Kerbey Lane. Go figure. I guess that’s why it’s the original, because the one by my house is on Highway 183. You know you’re at SXSW when a group walks in for breakfast with a film crew entourage. I have no idea who the heck they were, or why the were being filmed. Irrelevant. Besides, nobody except Kate (or maybe Beyonce) was going to distract me from eating my blackberry pancakes and bacon that morning. Dee-licious!

SXSW 2012 - Kerbey Lane Cafe - Austin, Texas USA.
When you've just gotta have a good breakfast!

When I travel and/or go to music festivities, I typically have something in mind that I MUST see/do. Everything outside of that… I’m game. For the Friday SXSW Experience, I wanted to see Iceland’s “Of Monsters and Men” at Filter Magazine’s Showdown at Cedar Street (1pm CST). That pretty much left the whole day open. We arrived just after 11am, and decided to show our love and support for my friends from Dos Equis, by paying homage with a cold and frosty Dos Equis cerveza! Yeah, I know it was only 11am; but, it was happy hour somewhere in the world. Why not Austin, Texas? Right?

SXSW 2012 - Dos Equis - "I don't always drink beer. But when I do..."

For the 7 of you who actually read my blog, you may recall that my wife (Anna) and I are planning a trip to Fjord Norway this year (2012). Ranks right up there with Patagonia (Argentina/Chile), Machu Piccu, Tibet/Nepal, Switzerland, South Pacific (Bora Bora, Fiji) and Africa (Tanzania, Mozambique, S. Africa, Kenya, Botswana) on my 1000 places to see before I die list.  So who the heck knew that I would be watching a Norwegian band on a Friday morning in Austin, Texas while drinking a Mexican beer? Not me. Enter “Team Me” from Norway.

SXSW 2012: "Team Me" from Norway

Unknown to the US… OK, that’s really not fair. Unknown to ME… They won the Norwegian Grammys for best pop group 2011, for their debut album “To the Treetops!”  My day was shaping up nicely, and for the past 3 days now, “Show Me” by “Team Me” has been occupying space on my iPod Playlist as a recurring favorite song. There’s a reason why they are a SXSW 2012 Showcasing Artist.

A pure delight to hear them play LIVE. Great sound. As if my opinion of “Team Me” couldn’t get any better… we somehow ended up talking to the drummer, Bjarne. Just a fantastic person, and true representation of how taking timeout to say hello and have a conversation with a couple of new fans at SXSW in Austin, Texas gains you some supporters for life. I’ve been telling everybody about them. Bjarne probably won’t remember me to save his life; but, I told him I was already planning a trip to Fjord Norway, so would look them up and try to catch a show when we come through Oslo this year (2012). I already said it earlier in the blog; but, I’ll say it again… “The greatest surprises in life are the adventures never expected”. You heard it here… TEAM ME. BRILLIANT!

SXSW 2012 - "TEAM ME" from Norway in Austin, TX

If you’re still reading this blog, about 2hrs ago, I mentioned that my co-worker asked me a simple question… “What was your favorite part of SXSW 2012?”. Without question… listening to the Icelandic indie folk band Of Monsters and Men LIVE at Filter Magazine’s Showdown at Cedar Street. They were beyond great. There’s something to be said when you’ve watched YouTube videos of a band, and listened to live in studio recordings of them, as well as heard a few songs on iTunes, and it STILL doesn’t do them as much justice as seeing them LIVE in Austin, Texas.

"Of Monsters and Men" - Indie Folk band from Reykjavik, Iceland

They surpassed my expectations, and for that, Of Monsters and Men from Reykjavik, Iceland are my favorite part of SXSW 2012. Who would have guessed? If you don’t know them… you WILL know them soon enough.

Yelling “HEY!” with the crowd on songs like “Little Talks” and “Dirty Paws” in an electrifying LIVE setting was fantastic. I also enjoyed the melodic sounds on songs like “Lakehouse” and “King and Lionheart”. Awesome.  Although “Little Talks” is probably their most notable song, I can’t help bursting out a hearty “la-la-laaaa… la-la-la-laaaa!” while singing “Dirty Paws” numerous times throughout the day.

Of Monsters and Men. Just a REALLY great band. And Yes, I’ve already pre-ordered the US debut album “My Head Is an Animal” on iTunes (Expected Release Date Apr 3, 2012). Do yourself a favor… check them out!

SXSW 2012 - "Of Monsters and Men" from Iceland in Austin, TX

I could very well have gone home and been 100% happy with my Friday SXSW Experience; however, Kate set the expectations high by telling me about a one man band from England called Ed Sheeran. Then she described him. Small red haired white guy who can rap and play a guitar like a banshee. I really have no idea what a banshee is… but, somewhere in the world banshees are proud, because Ed Sheeran is the REAL deal.

He was pretty much amazing. Yet another surprise for my SXSW Experience. This was starting to become a habit. A good one.

SXSW 2012: Ed Sheeran @Cedar Street

SXSW 2012: Filter Magazine's Showdown @Cedar Street w/Ed Sheeran

I may have forgotten to mention that our friends Jeannie, Jeff, and Amy joined us at Cedar Street. After a great day (so far) of “Team Me” (Norway), “Of Monsters and Men” (Iceland) and “Ed Sheeran” (England), why stop there? Jeff really wanted to see a North Carolina band “Lost in the Trees”, so we took our happy smiles to Speakeasy on 4th and Congress for some more live SXSW music. I’m not even sure how to describe their sound other than “beautiful”. Something you would hear on Grey’s Anatomy, or as part of a movie soundtrack. Hopefully I won’t offend them by saying I could drink a cup of coffee and read a good book while listening to them. Very different than the Scandinavian filled live show we had just left at Cedar Street.

SXSW 2012 - Amy, Jeannie and Kate - Filter Magazine's Showdown @Cedar Street

Before “Lost in Trees” came on, we were ever so lucky to catch Irish folk singer and Academy Award Winner Glen Hansard (The Swell Season) alongside Jake Clemons on the stage at Speakeasy. A perfect St Patty’s Day Eve treat. “Low Rising” was awesome. As was “The Parting Glass” sung accapella at the end of his set. BRILLIANT! And once again… another great surprise for my Friday SXSW Experience. Seriously… next year I’m takin’ the whole week off. Geez! I’m an idiot!

I could go on for hours writing about how we watched a couple of bands on a parking garage rooftop of an advertising agency in downtown Austin. Along with free bratwurst from The Best Wurst in Austin, Texas and Shiner Bock beer; but, it’s all just too much to put in a single blog. I lost track of all the live music we heard at 96 Bar, Lustre Pearl, and Icenhauers. Nevertheless, by the time the evening made it’s way to a close, Kate and I found ourselves saying goodbye to my friends CHILL and Dina at Blackheart Bar on Rainey Street.

SXSW 2012: Bratwurst, Beer, Bands and Rooftops - Gotta Love it!

SXSW 2012 w/CHILL, Dina & Me on Rainey Street - Austin, TX

As we made the vicious hike across downtown towards my car, it was like an unspoken language of smiles across our faces that silently said… “GREAT DAY! GREAT DAY!”. That thought didn’t last long, because inevitably, how can you end a great day without great food? You can’t. We bee-lined for Austin’s finest food trucks at 3rd & Congress Ave. This wasn’t fast food. It was great food – made quickly. “I’ll have the blackened gulf red snapper poboy… and a bottle of ice cold water… Please!”. Kate had the pulled pork tacos. Dee-lish! As we humbly sat there on our cheap white plastic lawn furniture overlooking downtown Austin, Texas, it was the perfect way to end our Friday SXSW Experience.  All I could think was… SXSW 2012: I LOVE Austin, TX! (Please… don’t move here!). Bring on SXSW 2013! I’m ready!

TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

SXSW - Food Trucks on Congress Ave - Austin, TX
"I'll have the blackened gulf red snapper poboy... Please!"

If you're visiting Austin, TX for SXSW (or any other reason) ...Read this sign!

Experience. Appreciate. Alberta. Canada.


Experience. Appreciate. Alberta. Canada - M a y 2 0 0 9

I’m typically not a man of few words; but, every once in a while, I just like to Be. Still. And truly experience and appreciate my surroundings. I’m not sure there’s a better place to experience nature and appreciate your surroundings than Alberta. Canada.Well… maybe South Island, New Zealand (my favorite place in the world!); but, on the North American continent… It’s hard to beat Alberta. Canada.

"Frozen in May" - Lake Louise - Alberta, Canada

Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I agree 100%. Centering on Ghandi’s words of wisdom, I truly believe that if you see the world… it is impossible not to be changed. Lucky for me, I married somebody who is just as passionate about experiencing and appreciating the world as I am. With no regrets. And yes… TRAVEL has changed us. For the better. Want to learn who somebody REALLY is? Travel with them.

Sunrise on Lake Beauvert - Alberta, Canada - May 2009

Lake Beauvert - Jasper National Park - Alberta, Canada

That’s why my Austin GlobeTrekker motto is TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER. So, where did this inspiring slogan come from?

Lake Annette - Jasper National Park - Alberta, Canada

Well… I kinda snagged it from one of the great authors of American literature:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada 2009

I love that quote! I added the word TRAVEL in front of it to make it my own; but, the inspiration was all Twain. Through it’s resilient people, fascinating cultures, incredible palette of foods, and spectacular raw natural beauty, this world never seizes to amaze me. So when my friends and family asked “Why Alberta, Canada?” My response… Why not?

Maligne Lake - Jasper National Park - 2009

Maligne Tours Boat House - Lake Maligne - Alberta, Canada

You know I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s the real reason “Why Alberta, Canada?”. In May 2005, Anna and I took a trip to British Columbia, Canada for my birthday. I was in awe. I’ll save that story for another blog. The truth of the matter is this… Almost every Canadian we met asked “Are you going over to Alberta?” Nope. Just Vancouver and Whistler. “Oh… you MUST come back and visit Alberta.” I think the word awesome is overused; but, Alberta is truly bad ass! You thought I was going to say awesome, didn’t you? Yeah… Alberta, Canada is AWESOME! There. I said it.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Alberta, Canada - May 2009

Besides, Canada is our neighbor. Who doesn’t want to get to know their neighbors? I guess lots of people, because I’m always shocked how many Americans… well, Texans, that do NOT have Canada on their bucket list of travel destinations. And the Canadians are REALLY nice people. Very hospitable, kind, and friendly.

Athabascar Falls - Icefield Parkway - Jasper National Park

If that’s not enough, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are an overwhelming abundance of scenic postcards waiting to happen around every corner. The only negative thing I can say about Alberta… pictures just don’t do it justice. You have to experience Alberta. And then once you’ve experienced it… you’ll appreciate it more than you could ever imagine.

C O L D! Jason (me) and Anna @Athabascar Glacier - Alberta, Canada

Austin GlobeTrekker (me) @Columbia Icefield - Alberta, Canada

Athabascar Glacier - Columbia Icefield

Athabascar Glacier Experience - Alberta, Canada - May 2009

The Ice Explorer - Columbia Icefield

Columbia Icefield - Ice Explorer

After driving an hour northwest of Calgary’s International Airport, it was apparent WHY Alberta, Canada was selected as our 3rd wedding anniversary travel destination. The grand scenic entrance to the Canadian Rockies lay before us, and we knew that our time in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper was going to be both surprising and amazing. I dare say… AWESOME!

"Out for a Hike" - Jasper National Park - Alberta, Canada

"Gathering Trees" - Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada

Reflecting back on our May 2009 time in Alberta, it wasn’t supposed to snow. Why is it cold? The lakes weren’t supposed to be frozen. It was Mid-May for God’s sake! Ha! Ha! Ha! Whatever. I laugh at people who try to plan a flawless and error free trip. What I’ve discovered about travel is… The greatest surprises in life are the adventures never expected. Quoting the wise words of the great Yves Chouinard, “The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts”. Yes sir. Agreed. Noted. That’s what I LOVE about travel!

Lake Edith - Jasper National Park - Alberta, Canada

Canadian Gesse @Jasper Park Lodge

Elk feeding @Jasper Park Lodge - May 2009

Like I said at the beginning of this blog… I’m typically not a man of few words; but, every once in a while, I just like to Be. Still. And truly experience and appreciate my surroundings. It’s difficult to narrate our emotional experiences during this journey to Alberta, Canada, because a lot of it was “in the moment” hiking, driving, walking, talking, sitting, standing, laughing… No background music. No cameras. Sometimes no other people. Just Happy. Experiencing. Appreciating. Alberta. Canada.

Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course - Alberta, Canada

"fresh snow covered trees" - Lake Louise - Alberta, Canada - May 2009

"Idiot vs Grizzlie Bear" - My money's on the Grizzlie!

I truly hope that the photography we captured throughout the region translates our story and provides you with a glimpse of this breathtaking travel destination. Whether it’s the remote silence of Maligne Lake, grandeur of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, awe inspiring essence of Lake Louise, peaceful solitude of sunrise on Lake Beauvert, the chilling Athabascar Glacier experience via the Ice Explorer, or just the overall raw natural beauty of The Columbia Icefield and Canadian Rockies, I hope you enjoy these images and one day visit for yourself to Experience. Appreciate. Alberta. Canada.

The Boat House @Chateau Lake Louise - Alberta, Canada - May 2009

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise - Banff, AB

Lake Louise - Alberta, Canada - May 2009

Until we blog again… TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

Be. Still. In Alberta. Canada

Two Jack Lake - Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada

Two Jack Lake - Banff National Park - May 2009

Lake Minnewanka Loop - Banff National Park

Lake Edith - Jasper National Park

Lake Beauvert - Jasper Park Lodge - May 2009

Castle Mountain - Bow Valley Parkway - Banff National Park

The Bow Valley - Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada

Austin GlobeTrekker (me) on the Athabascar Glacier - Alberta, Canada

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