Mural on exterior of Threadgill's.
I had great fun in Austin catching up on my Texas food groups. I had a definitive chicken-fried steak at Threadgill's and some extra-moist barbecue brisket at Rudy's that were, as my dad would say, just larrupin'. I also got my Tex-Mex receptors well-coated at Maudie's on North Lamar and Vivo. Muy sabrosa!
Besides being a great place to get Texas home-style cooking, Threadgill's also houses a zillion relics from the old Armadillo World Headquarters, the premier music hall in Austin back in the 70's. The Armadillo was to Austin what The Fillmore was to the San Francisco music scene.
Lone Star outside of the Texas State History Museum
I also got to visit the wonderful Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, which has a boatload of Smithsonian-quality exhibits on Texas history.
It also has an IMAX theater, where we saw Dolphins and Whales 3D - an impressive look at quite a few marine mammals in 3D. Watching the finback whale engulf an entire school of fish with one huge gulp was, frankly, awesome, in the original sense of inspiring great awe. I might also add, that if you have not yet seen manatees fart underwater in 3D IMAX, you still have a few more things left to savor in life.
Any nostalgia evoked by wandering through this great museum was further heightened by reading Cormac McCarthy's amazing book, No Country for Old Men, on the plane ride out of Austin. This book is a great piece of story-telling by any standard. The fact that just about every scene in the book happened somewhere I grew up magnified its impact considerably.
One can spend years and years away from Texas and come back with attitudes, tastes and politics a whole lot different from the rest of one's tribe. However, it's comforting to see how many things there still resonate -- sometimes unexpectedly deeply. I think José Navarro nailed it pretty well in his 1842 quote below. I love where I live now, but a part of me will always be a piece of Texas.