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Checking off my ATX bucket list!

The Austin skyline at sunset.

As of September 1, I’ve been living in Austin for two years. I came to this city with the intention of furthering my career, and really taking it as an opportunity to start fresh, leave the past behind me, and just LIVE my life.

So, I made a bucket list specifically for Austin, and I’m proud to say I’ve tackled at least half of it (if not more). Many of the items on my list got checked off this past weekend, when my best friend came to visit! We had so much fun, I wanted to share some of the things we did.

See the bats on Congress Bridge


Each fall, the biggest bat colony IN THE WORLD assembles itself under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. These are Mexican free-tailed bats, and they stick around until it gets chilly and then fly off to Mexico. Everyday, they sleep in the crevices of the bridge, and fly out at dusk to find dinner. And crowds come out in hoards to see them.

So, my friend and I took a “bat cruise”, where we got way too close (pretty sure we got pissed on) to said bats, but were in complete awe when the 1.5 million of the little guys came flying out from underneath the bridge. The sound of them squeaking will possibly ALWAYS be a memory.

Hike Mount Bonnell


Okay, so this wasn’t on my bucket list, but it’s one of the most well-known hikes in the city, particularly because of its stellar views all the way around. It’s a fairly easy hike and you can see the downtown skyline, the tower and stadium at the University of Texas, and there’s a great shot of the Colorado River. Absolutely gorgeous!

Paddle board on Lady Bird Lake


This wasn’t on my list either, although I did list “Have an adventure on Lake Travis”, which I did in August when I went on a pontoon boat across the lake! However, I have never been paddle boarding! I’ve been kayaking once, on the Colorado River, so my friend and I decided to grab some paddle boards, and we were able to paddle behind one of the stages at ACL and hear some live music before paddling back to the dock. It was fantastic!

Tour Jester King Brewery


The Jester King Brewery is basically out in the middle of nowhere, but I’m ALL about these sorts of adventures, especially in Texas. So, my friend and I drove southwest, and ended up on the working ranch where the brewery lives, right next to Stanley’s Pizza, which is a glorified barn, complete with a fire oven. This place made all of my Texas dreams come true: beer and wine served in mason jars, a pasture, live chickens, fresh beer, and chandeliers hanging from beams in the barn. And that pizza was delicious!

Hit up Rainey Street


I’ve already been to 6th street several times, but Rainey Street is supposedly more of the local’s place to get rowdy. We checked out Icenhauer’s, where we both got some fancy cocktails (her’s had grilled pineapple in it), and then we went to the Parlor Room, which seemed a little more college-esque. But still, a very good time.

Go to ACL


Also not on my bucket list, but a recent wish of mine has been to go to ACL, because why not? I live 15 minutes away! So, we got 1-day passes and completely lived our best festival lives and saw Tank and the Bangas, Run the Jewels, Vance Joy, The Killers, and about three minutes of Gorillaz. We both fell in love with the Silent Disco, drank our fair share of beer, and enjoyed a local favorite: Torchy’s Tacos. The frozen sangria was also tasty.

See Graffiti Park


This was a perfect stop on the way to the airport – closing off a three-day weekend of Texas fun. The Graffiti Park at Castle Hills has art on art on art. People are tagging it every day, and there were already messages of hope sprayed on the walls for Vegas and Houston. Plus there were plenty of owls, skulls, and pop culture references. A must see!

When I visited Indiana in June, many of the things I was told we could do, we didn’t end up doing, and that bothered me. I meet lots of people who are happy living where they were born and raised, and that’s great – but these are often the people that let life pass them by. I’m a firm believer in being a tourist where you live; making the most of each situation; and just going for it!

Other things I’ve crossed off my list include: get a pedicure at Caesar’s salon, eat at the Hula Hut, and one upcoming thing will be eating sushi at Uchiko!

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Pic of the Week.

My pic(s) of the week this time just HAD to be about Hangout Fest, since I haven’t even been back home from it for 24 hours! It was a weekend in Gulf Shores, full of fun, sun, sand (it was even in my hair), fried food, drinks, and of course: music!

I will admit, I was really, really sad when Sam Smith didn’t end up making it for his time slot because of vocal chord surgery, but I still enjoyed the acts I did see. Some of the most impressive ones were Paramore, Tove Lo, Skrillex, and Beck.

Aside from the music, Hangout Fest is always full of cool, super-nice people. My friend and I met lots of people on the shuttle rides to and from the festival each day, and we had some particular fun with a group of guys we met that had traveled all the way from New York for the weekend. So, shout out to our new friends Dan, Tim, Chad “JC”, and Doug from New York (with fantastic accents), and also a HELLO to our people from South Atlanta, Jill and Cam! I can’t forget the groups from Buzz in Kansas City! You all made the weekend a great one.

As it goes with these types of things, I get really caught up in the moment and I don’t want to be “that person” with my phone glued to my side. So, unfortunately there aren’t a ton of pictures — but I’ve posted the ones I’ve got. If you’re on Instagram, head on over to my page @OrangeJulius to see videos from the Beck and Skrillex performances.

I made my fellow Hangout Fest-goer and I my custom “Koncert Kits” (available in my Etsy Shop), and they pretty much saved us, from the spare sheets of toilet paper to the hand sanitizer, and okay, the glow sticks and glitter! If you’re heading to an outdoor music fest this summer, I’d highly recommend getting yourself one.

At this point, I feel like I need to post this blog so I can face reality and get back to work — it’s not easy going from the good, beach festival life to the one sitting in front of a computer, but I suppose it’s got to be done. Hope y’all have a fantastic week!