Sorry, Alabama, we haven’t got a fiddle. Nonetheless, we still want to play in Texas, and with 435 hp at our foot, itching to be taken down the track, I’m sure we’ll find something worthwhile to do in Austin.
[You’re reading part of the Mustang Challenge series, a loosely bound concept that was created to inspire others to get out and explore the country in their cars. In this Mustang Challenge, two Canadians are touring the USA for the first time, traveling for 26 days through 13 different US cities while traversing over 8,000 miles behind the wheel of a 2016 Mustang GT. This is one post in a series of many. To read the previous articles and to follow the series, jump to the bottom of this page.]
Like New Orleans, Austin was considered to be a party city, having two streets in the downtown area that are infamous for wild nights full of overindulgence in alcohol and uncoordinated dancing. 6th street, or dirty 6th as the locals call it, happened to literally be right around the corner from the hostel we were staying at. Should make for a great time…
Having dropped our hitch hiker off in Houston 3 hours earlier, the two of us arrived at the Firehouse hostel around 10:30pm. Alex took the bags for check-in and I jetted with the car to find a place to park, as with most central downtown hostels, they do not have an associated parking lot.
I found an outdoor lot a few blocks over that was reasonably priced, but located in a rougher neck of the woods. The lot was in poor shape, with dumpsters all around it and many down-on-their-luck folk hanging out close by. A derelict lot, by all means, and one that did not inspire confidence. Mind you, right beside said lot was a church. Perhaps the big man upstairs would look down favorably upon our cherished pony car for the duration we were in Austin.
Juan, the guy working the lot, assured me the car would be fine and directed me to a spot where he said the cameras had the best view. I paid him in advance, he gave me a few hand written tickets to throw on the dash and off I went back to the hostel, fingers crossed that we would come back the next day and still find the car there. At this point, I was relying heavily on the insurance company, hoping that if the worst were to happen, they’d cover the car. (We checked beforehand with them that Alex and I would be covered, they said yes, but I find it very odd that we did not need to be named on the policy or show a valid license). Juan was very helpful through this tumultuous decision, but to be honest, even though I paid Juan upfront, at the time, I wasn’t even entirely sure he worked there. A big gamble to take – good warm up for Vegas. Go big or go home, right? (And in this case, if something did happen, we would be going home!).I was very happy to see that the Mustang was still there the next day, sitting on all four tires and not cinder blocks, windshield free of any citations.
We had big plans for day #2 in Austin, but unfortunately mother nature did not cooperate. We awoke to heavy overcast and light drizzle, the humidity through the roof and a warning issued for a potential flash flood. We wanted to take the Mustang to the local track to put it through its paces but found out it was closed. This was a bit of a disappointment, as to date, apart from a few open road rips, we’ve barely pushed the 5.0L up front and the IRS in the back (which is something I’m really excited to see – just how well the IRS handles). This will have to wait for another day – maybe in Vegas.
Nonetheless, we still had a ball in Austin. Having both read and heard from other people about the Barton hiking trails, we decided to check them out. The Barton Creek trail is a series of hiking trails that wind around Barton Springs, with a few waterfalls throughout its length, and according to local lore, has a gorgeous spring pool that is roughly 70 F year around. (Apparently this is the place to hang out, it’s just a matter of finding it). Unfortunately, we never found the pool, as we never looked on a map as to where it might be, and every time we came to a fork on the trail, we played rock paper scissors to determine which direction to take. Our shenanigans amused us for a while, but after about 40 minutes of aimless wandering, we asked a local lady (on her morning run) if this path would lead to anywhere interesting. She said no, it culminated in a dead end. Laughing at our idiocy, we made the trek back to the start, at this point sweatier than Fat Bastard himself, looked on the map this time and went the correct way to find the waterfall.
We did come across a waterfall, one of the smaller ones in the area, but nonetheless it was pretty impressive. It wasn’t a huge drop, but the strength and rate of the current was impressive. Huge boulders , laying in the middle of the river and forming part of the wall, had been eroded round and perfectly smooth. It probably took a very long time, but it amazed both of us just how much the current is able to carve away. I’m sure there is something here to be said about perseverance…
And Alex, clumsy as always, managed to stumble and submerge his entire shoe in the water which no doubt made for a very squishy walk back to the Mustang. What a clown.
Fancying some sort of Texan barbeque for dinner, Alex, myself and Ralfi (an Aussie we met at the hostel) found ourselves at Lambert’s restaurant, a few blocks away from the hostel. We splurged that night, $30 for delicious smoked BBQ brisket, served with some jalapeno seasoned cauliflower – a much needed change from our regular McDonald’s value menu dinners (it’s like we’re doing Supersize Me all over again).
Darkness fell and the street was closed to cars, now reserved solely for foot traffic. Tow trucks, like vultures circling a rotting carcass, immediately enter to tow away the vehicles of those poor souls who had forgotten that 6th street is a no park zone after 10PM on weekends.
A medium size group of us left the hostel together and did the usual routine of bar hopping. Tonight was the night that Connor McGregor was fighting Nick Diaz (rematch), but (can you believe this?), there is only one sports bar in Austin that was showing the fight. By the time we got to the door, it was long past full. In fact, the doorman told us it had been full since 6PM. We ambled about, in and out of bars, when the topic of cars came up.
John, one of our roommates, casually mentioned that he thought Camaros were better than Mustangs. Alex and I stopped short. Had we really heard this correctly? Up until now, we thought John was an OK guy, but this changes things. There was a traitor in our midst, a snake in the grass. We asked him to explain himself. He babbled on about LT/LS engines, something about bumblebee, Transformers and an overall cool factor. Jeez, he didn’t seem THAT drunk.
The scot and aussie we were with, having no dog in this fight, wisely stayed silent. Nonetheless, there is a very easy, very fast way to settle these types of disputes. Turning to the first gaggle of girls in sight, Alex asks them which is cooler, a Mustang or a Camaro. The answering chorus praised the Blue Oval. Mustang 1, Camaro 0. Polling two other groups (one a birthday party, the other a bachorlette party) sealed the deal. The Mustang was up 3 to nil – a unanimous victory.
At this point, we had stumbled close to a crowd standing outside the windows of some sort of bar, looking in and cheering. Intuition hit us and we started running. Sounded like the fight was playing live. We arrived and were shocked to find ourselves in front of a pizzeria, and a pizzeria so packed full of people, all of which were watching the fight. There were patio chairs outside, of which we were able to snag, and we sat down to watch the last two rounds of McGregor vs Diaz. At this point, the MMA boys were pretty spent and it wasn’t much of a fight, instead the two of them had entered survival mode and were just looking to outlast the match. The final bell rang, and shortly after the referee raised McGregor’s arm as the victor. Some cheered, some booed. Alex lost $20 to a co-worker. I ordered another drink (pizzeria, with the fight, and serving alcohol?? Unreal!). We spent the rest of the night there, kicking back and conversating about all the different experiences the each of us had encountered. Such is the road trip life – a very short window to meet new people and see new sights. Austin did not leave us disappointed in either respect.
(And for the record, despite John liking Camaros, he still is an OK guy and would be welcome to crash at my place back in Quebec).
Follow The Series
- Giving away a 2016 Mustang GT
- The trip from Connor’s perspective
- Here’s why Andrew’s giving his 2016 GT away
- Day 1 – Montreal to Philadelphia in the Jalopy Ford Focus
- Day 2 – A Bad Break Lands Two Flat Tires
- Days 3 & 4 – Exploring Nashville, TN
- Day 5-7 – New Orleans Swamping
- The Irish Hitchhiker