February 26, 2013

The Land Of White Sands

After spending two days on the border of Mexico in El Paso, Texas, we headed back inland into the state of New Mexico. On this loop of our trip we're hoping to repeat as few locations as possible from the ones we saw on our last loop around the US, but White Sands National Monument was just so astounding last time that we couldn't pass through New Mexico without stopping in again. Although the afternoon we picked could have been slightly less windy (read: 40 ml/hr wind gusts), the park proved itself just as amazing as we'd remembered it. Instead of writing a long post about what all was so amazing, I'll let pictures speak for themselves.

February 24, 2013

(Near) The Murder Capitol Of The World

Sunday morning, after boondocking on the side of Hwy 118 outside of the McDonald Observatory we got back on I-10 and headed towards El Paso. The last 80 miles of Interstate 10 leading up to El Paso mirrored the Mexican border and it was exciting to be so close to a foreign land. Unlike Europe, where one can visit multiple countries in the same day, the US is so enormous that it is a rare treat to find oneself on the doorsteps of another country. El Paso lies right across the border from Juarez, and unfortunately, Juarez has recently seen a huge increase in drug related gang violence, leading to it being dubbed the “Murder Capitol of the World”. Most online travel guides warn against crossing into Mexico in this part of the country, and we decided not to test our luck. Instead, we spent our two days in El Paso exploring the city and the outdoors at the Franklin Mountains State Park.

February 22, 2013

West Texas Driving

Last Friday we checked out of the Midtown RV Park in Austin and headed west into the Hill Country of Texas. We were retracing the same route we’d taken just under a year ago, heading to the little town of Fredericksburg. We passed exotic animal ranches, where antelope and reindeer grazed under the warm sun. We passed sprawling pecan and peach farms, and big grass fields with long horned steer, lambs and sheep.  After spending a full month in the busy metropolitan Austin, we were more than ready to get back into the rural side of Texas; to step into a slower pace of life.

February 18, 2013

We Win Some, We Lose Some

One night in December, while we were back home in Fayetteville, I was checking my Facebook feed. One of my running girlfriends had posted a link to a local article and announced that she was looking for a partner to compete with. Her statement intrigued me and I clicked on her pasted link. Isn’t it funny how the smallest, most innocuous moments in life like that can lead to some very interesting and unexpected changes? Well, in our case, the link lead to a reality TV show casting, to be held in Fayetteville, of all places. Producers from LA were picking new contestants to compete in sets of two on a spin-off of the Bear Grylls show. Castings were being held nationally in 9 different cities, and somehow little ‘ol Fayetteville had made the cut.

February 15, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day also coincided with our last day in Austin. We decided against going out to a fancy-shmansy dinner (which isn't really our style anyways), and instead spent the evening on the Whole Foods patio. On Thursdays the store offers up handmade large pizzas with three toppings for only $10, so we called in a pepperoni, mushrooms and artichoke pizza, picked up a bottle of chilled Riesling, and some sugar snap peas from the produce section. Nothing says "I Love You" like pizza and wine in paper cups while watching a good Netflix show on the computer (free WiFi on the patio!).

February 14, 2013

Eating From An Urban Spoon- Austin Style

We spent our last two days in Austin eating as much as our stomachs could fit generously sampling more of the amazing selection of cuisines here. Did you know Austin has over 2,000 registered food trucks? Holy moly (guacamole…since I've got food on my mind)! If you tried out a new food truck each day, it would take you over five years to try each one…and that’s only if new trucks weren't added in the meantime! In my opinion food trucks are the epitome of eating out. First, you have location…they are everywhere, you don’t have to drive far to find a decent dinner, and if you and your friends are picky, no problem, the trucks usually sit in large groups, so there choices to pick from. Two, the sheer variety of types of food offered is mind boggling. Even if you go to a food truck that has something ordinary like hot dogs, you can probably expect them to have added some new twist, so it’s no longer just a hot dog, but now an artisan sausage. And finally third, the very affordable prices…it’s not uncommon to walk away with a full, filling meal for under $10. All that adds up to NUM! in my book.

February 11, 2013

Within Austin City Limits

Austin has smitten us with its amazing weather. We have spent the last month (winter month at that!) running around in shorts and t-shirts, bathing countless hours in the sunshine. We have quickly grown to appreciate the city for all it has to offer and have even established several places that we can call our favorites, as in, places we will truly miss when we leave. There is something very special about this city, with its colorful murals and bright neon signs. Its artistic vibe is like a breath of fresh air in the middle of the Texan desert. After Portland, I would say Austin is our second most favorite city in the US, and if we could find a way to live in both places, we would. (Preferably Austin in the winter and Portland in the summer!) In our month here we have yet had a day when we were bored, with nothing to do. The city offers a long list of attractions and we have slowly been ticking them off, one by one. Because we have enjoyed this city so much, I have decided to share a city guide with you, in case you decide to come visit the city for yourself! Enjoy!

February 07, 2013

Recipes From the Road- Thai Tom Kha Gai Soup

As you all probably already know, Thai cuisine is one of our favorites. We can usually judge the quality of a Thai restaurant by their soup, and we almost always order the Tom Kha Gai coconut soup. Over the years we've tried recreating the soup at home and have never really found a recipe that has come close to what we've found while eating out...until a few days ago, when my friend Maranda posted a recipe she'd recently tried out herself. We had most of the ingredients on hand so we decided to give it a go, and you know what? This is probably the closest we'll ever get to restaurant quality! If you've been looking to make the soup yourself, I would recommend that you try the this recipe!

February 04, 2013

Carnaval Brasileiro in Austin

While living in Austin we decided to throw some money on the table and attend the yearly Carnaval celebration. The event touted itself as "One of the Biggest Carnaval Celebrations Outside of Brazil" and since we had no upcoming plans to attend the real deal in Brazil we figured it would be interesting to get a feel for it in Austin. The Brazilian style Mardi Gras party was held at the Palmer Events center, just across the Lady Bird Town Lake from downtown Austin. We really had no idea what to expect, as the only Mardi Gras style events we've been to before are house parties and downtown street festivals (both rated PG at most). Well, by the end of the night I'd seen more breasts than at the YMCA locker room and I was thoroughly impressed with everyone's costumes!

February 01, 2013

Torchy's Tacos With Friends

Last year when we visited Austin we met up for dinner with some college friends of ours: Jen, Jay and their baby boy Wesley. Back then Wesley was just three months old and if I remember correctly that was his very first outing to a restaurant. Wesley did quite well that evening and we had a very enjoyable evening catching up over yummy Italian food.