Thursday, April 25, 2013

A New Day at Travaasa Spa

After a VERY tense drive, and I must say, a hungry drive, we made it to Travaasa Spa. Gated, winding roads, hidden....all the things I want in a stay.
We found the front desk and we were well pleased by the quick wit and caring response. We were told we were WAY to early and that check out was 3:00 so we would have to make due with hanging out. As ours was an all inclusive stay we found the mess hall (not what I would describe as) and went for the sit down meal. We have found over the years that buffet is marginal and suspect at best, but husband man loves his bacon so usually goes for the gold.  We had a filling and nutritious breaking of the fast, calmed down, and went to find a bit of exercise to burn off all the Austin food and the just ingested meal.We signed up for a nature walk lead by a very un-nature person, who was cute, athletic, energetic, and sweet, but had no idea what tree was what or anything about the history of the area. We loved her anyway and followed blindly through 2.5 miles of trail. After a pause we walked over to the spa and made our arrangements for the next days. I chose a body scrub and deep tissue massage followed the next day by an intense facial. Linda did a deep tissue and facial.
We found our room, a third floor suite overlooking the hills and settled in. We went over to the sauna and soaking pool for a while and had a in glass martini made by the staff while we soaked.
After that we made our way to dinner and enjoyed an outside meal of perfect foods.
Up early the nest day for a nature walk... we missed the other person so we did our own and went farther than was suggested. When we got back it was time to learn to rope.
I was raised on a very small farm, went to all the rodeos, had horses, and knew how to throw a rope. In the case I was given what I would call a rope on Viagra. I learned on a soft rope and could place a lasso with the best but this thing was absurd! A hula hoop on a string! Linda did well, I defer ed.
Then on to the bull riding (mechanical) for Linda and the CHALLENGE COURSE!!! for me. I was a bit disappointed by the challenge and the course as I have been through some of the most stringent and odd training given by the military, BUT I acted impressed and climbed the 50 foot rope net, walked across the wooden platforms suspended on wire, walked the logs, then the slack wire, then the goal: a zip line that caught about 25 feet down and then sent me hurling through for 250 feet of space back and forth till the ladder man came and un-hooked my limp and docile body.
This called for a trip to the bar. We ordered martinis and the young "bar tender" brought Linda's with a couple of olives and mine with the most amazing twist EVER!. My guess is that the late night bar tender had skinned a lemon, put a pick through it, and put the rolled skin out to slice neatly in to twists...She brought me a Tini with the whole skin in the glass. I seldom laugh out load and never at the expense of others but this was a hard one.
Now all I have to do is ask Linda if she wants the whole lemon or just part in her Tini to crack her up.
We went horse back riding ( is there another way to ride a horse? Like they strap you underneath and call it horse stomach riding?) in the morning and I got a sweet boy who loved to get a scratch behind the ear, loved to be hugged, and did NOT love to have a two hundred fifty pound man on his back. I had to try four times for the guide to get the rope synched tight enough to hold my weight as I put my foot in the stirrup. Finally he walk the poor horse over to a knoll and had me get on from up high. On the first stop for grass I told my companion that  he could eat later and pulled his head up. This  created a bit of a challenge. When the other horses went wandering up a hill doing turn backs and gentle inclines, my boy said "Let's GO!" and went straight up the middle. I loved it and it reminded me of my youth on the farm. However, when he went down a hill he let me know that I weighed 250 LBS!!!! Grunt, groan, snort, pause, etc. When he finally gave up and went along we had a great time.
We went in to the spa for a couple of treatments, me a facial, and Linda a body scrub, and when we came out, after a walk in the woods and a stroll around the spa, we sat on the deck and watched the sun go down.
The food was wonderful, the wine list included Evening Land and a couple more Oregon wine, and they really sened to care for us.
We will be back!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oregon in Austin

We took a much needed break from work and more work in Austin Texas. It was my first visit to Austin and my third or forth to Texas. Prior to this adventure, my take on Texas was a reaction to Dallas in the middle of the night after driving across the whole state so not the best impression. My wife had lived there for a few months when she was in her 20's. 
After a VERY annoying set of events that  almost cut the trip short* we soldiered on and had a great visit with an Aunt in Georgetown. Her welcome, and having a bunch of other relatives around, gave us a chance to unwind and calm down. We all have a nice meal and some local Texas beer at Hardtails, off 35 North. At one point in the evening a woman walked in wearing a lace top, black bra, and the largest breasts I have ever seen defying gravity. As they say, "things are bigger in Texas".
The next morning we relaxed and took our time getting in to town and to the Omni in downtown. Lunch was at a place I found on Open Table on the recommendation of one of my good friends at Travel Lane County who's daughter lives there and like my wife, is a vegetarian. Lamberts was excellent and had plenty for Linda and plenty for me! I had two meats and slaw and was full but I could have stayed all day. Also on the menu:

North Valley Pinot Noir

Nice to see some home state wines.
Later that night we had a rather disappointing meal at Four Seasons restaurant,Trio.  The food was OK but not amazing, the service was inattentive and it was just not worth what we paid. The wine list did have a few Oregon jewels: Evening Land's  Seven Springs Summum and Eyrie's Pinot Gris plus reds from Brick House, Brooks, and Bergstrom ( I think they got to "B" and stopped... so I will not be too harsh on them.We left and walked down to the bridge to watch the bats wake up and we were not disappointed!  Two Million bats flying out for 20 minutes is worth hanging around for.
As we pulled ourselves away from the bats and the Egrets we decided to take the concierge's advice and look for Peche', an Absinthe bar down on 4th. It was early so we had little trouble finding a seat near the door and to our delight, Rob, the owner, adopted us and spent most of an hour regaling us with tales of restauranteuring. We tried a couple of mild drinks then left to wonder the streets looking for music. Though there was indeed a plethora of noise wafting off rooftops and out of open windows on and off 6th Street we were just not getting what we wanted, Death Metal from a close by roof sent us, after an hour of walking, back to seek refuge in a familiar place. Rob greeted us and we had a late (for us) snack then headed back to the Omni where we got a nightcap from the bar and stood on our balcony listening to at least 11 bands in the night far below.
After coffee we were off to drive down Congress looking for a place for a nice breakfast and we soon found it. The South Congress Cafe was perfect! Great food and best of all, right across from our goal, Allans Boots.
We soon found our way up and down the isles in awe of the assortment and depth of the offerings. We had originally come under the pretense of "Linda wants some boots" so she got first crack at them and as she shopped I wondered over to the mens section. As I looked at the selection a young man in a hat and boots sauntered over and with a big smile, ask what I was looking for in a boot? Know little to less about boots, as I had not had a pair since 1968 when I got a pair of Fry's down in Huntington Beach to replace my worn out moccasins.
I had look longingly at a pair of Ostrich skins but they were to small. He suggested a little better brand, Lucchese, from to top shelf. I tried them on and there was no way out. I ask what they cost. After a moment of quiet panic I went over to find Linda. She had a line of boots snaking down the isle and I was ask to pick the ones I liked. After deliberation and some back and forth we chose a beautiful pair. Then I told her what I was waring in dollar signs.  We agreed to not ever spend any money ever again on boots and that I had to wear them every day.
We drove out to the end of town where there were a few galleries and strolled through a few. Little took our eye until we found ourselves outside an old run down house and yard that was in need of weeding. We saw the sign and took a chance. Glad we did! Remarkable work and as it is indeed a small world, the owner went to school with on of my friends from Eugene.Stephan Clark Gallery is a gem! We ended up spending the better part of the afternoon there.
Last stop was a little spice shop where you can taste the wares and toss what is left on the floor. Linda tasted EVERY Indian spice and we left with bags and bottle for her and freeze dry corn and ginger chips for me. 
Later that night as we walked around town in our new boots a woman stopped one the street and yelled at Linda "Great boots!" so all was justified.
We found ourselves at Copa Bar and Grill and took a load off at the upstairs bar. I tried a local gin, Waterloo, and was well pleased: lots of local botanicals and yet soft and subtle.
Dinner was out on the lower patio and it was great! Linda's favorite was the variation on street corn. A cob on a stick rolled in butter and grated Mexican hard cheese. I reverted to my meat eating and had the steak. Boring but good.
Back for a visit to the bats, who now were warmed up enough for ALL of them to come out. We made it an early night. 
The morning  got up the next moring and began a tense and unpleasant journey to Travaasa Spa. Linda had created a route that would take us by a famous little breakfast taco place and I had created a route that would get us to the spa...
Things did not go well and the place was closed and we missed a few turns. I do not do well when my brain has a set pattern and goal and it is disrupted. A quiet ride to the spa. 

Next: Travaasa!