More Austin Goodness

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You're going to get tired of me and my positive, upbeat, happy posts... but don't fret - I'm sure I'll have some snarky and cynical observations to share in the near future. I could already craft a piece about how horrible Texas drivers are - they may give Oklahoma drivers a run for their money - but I'll save that for later.

For now, Austin definitely has that "new car smell." I really can't say enough great things about the city, and I think a lot of it has to do with my location. I'm so close to everything - it's almost ridiculous.

I was bored on Sunday. I had wanted to go for a long bike ride, but the winds were gusting at speeds of up to 40mph, and I didn't feel like getting tossed around on the bike, so I settled for a 7 mile run around the Barton loop, took a shower, and then wondered how I could best spend the rest of my day.

I looked at the car and realized it was filthy, so first item on my list was to go and wash it. I had noticed a local car wash place that looked interesting - they always had Jaguars, Porches, BMWs, Mercedes, and Land Rovers running through their facility, so I figured they had to be decent. I drove 2.1 miles from my apartment to the car wash place, and man, was it busy.

I got into line with my car and waited for the attendant to "take my order." Since I had never been there before, I chose the basic package - hand wash, hand dry, complete wheel and tire cleaning, tire dressing, and a complete interior cleaning. Cost? $16. Wait time? About 1.5 hours. But, it was a Sunday afternoon, the weather was nice (but windy), and I had nothing but time, so it was all good.

Here's my car in the wash bay:

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The car wash had a great outdoor patio that was shaded, and they offered free wireless internet and cheap soft drinks ($1 for a bottle). I opted to walk to a local marketplace, where I found a great locally grown and roasted coffee. I also browsed the selection of locally made cheeses, beers, and snacks. I can't tell you how awesome it is to find places like this - it's so refreshing to not be forced to shop at WalMart. I'll gladly pay an extra $0.39 for something if it means that it's: (a) supporting a local business, (b) fresh and exciting, (c) something that doesn't say "Kraft" or "Tyson" or "Nabisco" on it.

After grabbing the coffee, I headed back to the car wash place just in time to see them finishing up my car. It looked pretty good to me:

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I realize how ironic it is that "geekysteve" from "Guru Reports" is now paying people to wash and detail his car... yes, a few years ago I would've gone bonkers with the idea of running my car through a service like this, but today I couldn't care less. In the event that the car gets too swirled or too messed up, I'll fire up the buffer, spend an afternoon perfecting it, and call it good. Life's too short to obsess over a swirl mark. :-)

I also noticed a doggy day care across the street from the car wash - that's good to know about, so I took a photo to keep as a "reminder" in case I need to use it:

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Given Austin's liberal stance on allowing dogs just about everywhere, I highly doubt I'd ever need to use them, but it's good know they're available.

With my car nice and clean, it was off to explore the city. I needed to swing by a Sears so that I could pick up a cheap pair of pliers, so my next mission was to find a mall. Turns out there's an amazing mall about 2 miles from my apartment (4 miles from the car wash). So, I took Lamar Blvd to 360, and within a few minutes, I was at the Barton Springs mall.

What a place. They had Nordstroms, Macy's, Coach, Prada, Ann Taylor, Lucky Brand, Mens Warehouse, and about 30 other awesome stores, including a Sears. I took an hour or so to stroll through the mall, making note of the various stores. Oh, they also had an Apple Store!! Jackpot #2!

Thoroughly impressed with the selection of stores, it was back to the apartment. The sun was setting, and I had grabbed a few free magazines while out and about. I pulled a chair onto my deck, turned on my iPod, kicked back and enjoyed the Sunday afternoon.

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I had a view of the pool, my clean car, the setting sun, and a few good magazines to read. I sat on the porch until around 7:30 or so, which by then it was getting chilly (into the high 60s). The entire time I was sitting there, I smiled with appreciation for the simpler things.

I've spent so much of my life being wrapped-up in, concerned with, and obsessing over money and status. I've wanted nothing more than to be wealthy and successful. And for so long, it meant so much. But now, with my life completely rearranged, I've come to realize that none of that stuff really matters. I'm not going to try to kid myself into thinking that it's not nice to have a bucket of money, nice watches, nice cars, a big house, and so on... but I am perfectly happy with this one-bedroom apartment, my bike, my running shoes, and my iPod. I've got a job that I'm super excited about, I'm in a city that is inviting, fun, friendly, and full of opportunity, I've got a great network of friends, and as such, I'm free of worry and stress.

It's liberating. I'd love to sell my house, but it'll happen when it's meant to happen. Until then, I'll keep chugging along. I thought about this a lot today while I was riding my bike (on my lunch hour - another bonus - I rode 27 miles at lunch today, and it was glorious)... How lucky am I to be in this situation? To find a job and a place when the world is what it is? Wow.

So, with that, I'll leave you all for a bit. Sorry to get so philosophical. It's not really my style, but it's more or less what I was feeling last night and today. I'll also leave you a photo of a burger from Shuggies (which is in the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery). I'm telling you all - you need to come visit Austin. You'll leave 13 pounds heavier, your cholesterol will be 10% higher, but you'll be happy. :-)

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