If you have to be stuck in an airport for 3+ hours*, Austin is not a bad place to be. I found interesting food, curious souvenirs, good books, and decent coffee. And the music playing through the place made me want a playlist: mostly blues and country, nothing I could identify, definitely not Muzak or top-40.
At Schlotzsky’s Deli, B had an Original sandwich, which consisted of ham and salami; melted cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses; garlic butter, olives, onions, tomatoes and lettuce, topped with a vinegar hot sauce. All of this was served on a good chewy roll, a little like a foccacia.
I wandered by the improbably named Waterloo Ice House, the home of “breakfast, beer, burgers.” Indeed, I spotted single-serving cups of breakfast cereal, granola bars, Coors on tap, and several kinds of burgers, chicken sandwiches, tacos and more.
The rest of us dined at the Wok ‘n Roll, which an electronic billboard noted was “family owned.” The lure was the fresh-looking buffet, which allowed me to pick up steamed rice and fresh fruit for my choosy little traveling companions, plus my favorite fast-food indulgence, “General Tso’s chicken,” that deep fried, spicy-sweet stuff that’s never the same twice. When I told the genial man behind the counter that I was looking for chicken with broccoli, he suggested that I come back in a few minutes for a fresh batch. The broccoli was nicely cooked, still bright green, and the chicken was tender. Even my sauce-hating eldest child had a few bites and allowed that it wasn’t bad.
All four of us loved Amy’s Ice Creams. I had a “tiny” (reasonably sized) cup of “pineapple upside-down cake” ice cream, loaded with chunks of yellow cake and maraschino cherries. I was intrigued by the“white lightning” flavor, but the guy behind the counter wasn’t certain what “contains alcohol” meant. He thought it might mean rum, which was about the last thing I needed in my time-zoned, altitude-adjusted state. There were four kinds of vanilla: sweet cream, Mexican vanilla, “just vanilla,” and honey vanilla. I was tempted to ask for a vanilla sampler. The Belgian chocolate was rich and decadent, like a good chocolate bar. E’s raspberry sorbet was bright as the berry and full of seeds, proof of its authenticity.
The non-chain bookstore had quite a bit more than the usual airport assortment of self-improvement, spy-thriller and mass-market religious titles. I could easily have picked up an interesting book or three, but my carry-on bag was already stocked.
I couldn’t think of any justification for these porcelain wiener dogs. They looked sheepish.
I followed signs for an art exhibit and finally found it stashed behind a gift store, facing the restrooms. There were photographs and paintings by local artists. I think they deserve a better location.
* Why was I stuck in Austin? We’d just been skiing at Copper Mountain, Colorado, and our non-stop flight home from Denver had been cancelled. The airline rebooked us through Austin. At least we got home on the same day, albeit a little later than we’d planned. Other people were more greatly inconvenienced.