I am happy to say I have surpassed my 50th day in Austin! In ways the time has flown by and in other ways it has dragged by. In most ways, it has flown by. It doesn’t seem like long ago at all that I started the new job or made the drive into town, but it seems like ages ago that I packed up my stuff and had the farewell BBQ at Walsh’s and left Minnesota. As you have probably been able to tell from reading my blog, things have gone very well so far and in most regards have exceeded my expectations.

But this Wednesday after work, I will be heading back to Minneapolis for a brief visit to get our apartment packed up and get Lauren moved down. My flight takes me through North Carolina, which will be my 33rd state visited (yes, airports count, just like riding a train through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware counts.) We’re planning to spend the morning and early afternoon getting our U-Haul pod packed up, then bidding adieu to family with a BBQ and later saying farewell to the friends with an informal meet-and-greet at Black Forest Inn. Everyone is welcome to come by for a drink and wish us well on our journey!

The road trip down should be fun as we’ll now be riding together in the Impala with U-Haul delivering our pod later on. The plan is to stop in Kansas City for the Royals/Red Sox game Friday night and finish the drive Saturday. I’m debating as to whether or not it’s worth the time to drive an hour out of the way to cut Arkansas off my list of states visited… but I think it needs to happen.

I’m sure life will be much different with Lauren back in the action. I am happy with the fact that I’ve gotten out and met as many new people as possible and explored the city rather than becoming a shut-in and spending every waking hour in my bedroom, but now to have my dearest wife along to share in all these wild experiences will be all the better.

Which State Is Best?

In honor of my 50+ days in Austin, I will now compare the three states/cities I’ve resided in, and determine which state ranks highest in each category. It’s not a fair comparison… I mean, I’m comparing 19 years of living near Carpenter, SD, a town of single-digit population, to major US metro areas. Austin is literally 300,000 times bigger than Carpenter. I bet not many people can say that about their new city of residency!

1. Weather: So far, three-way tie. MN and SD are the same with a few decent months a year. I hate snow, but I like rain very much. Texas lacks snow but unfortunately so far has severely lacked rain too. I’m just guessing, but I bet come winter Texas will win this category in a landslide. Winner: Draw

2. Traffic: Twin Cities traffic is pretty bad. Austin traffic is pretty good considering there’s almost 2 million people here in the metro. Obviously, with virtually no traffic ever, the winner is South Dakota

3. Food: MN has some great restaurants and lots of fun things to eat on sticks. SD on the other hand has very few ethnic restaurants at all. And then there’s Austin, where locals spend more money eating out per year than any other city in the US. I have eaten out a ton so far but haven’t begun to scratch the surface. Winner: Texas

4. Nature: SD has some great outdoorsy stuff out west with the Badlands and Black Hills. MN has forests and lakes and shores galore. Texas has a lot of brown dry grass, oil rigs, and flat land. Winner: MN and SD, tie

5. Entertainment: It should be obvious one of the main reasons I came here was to be constantly entertained. As one local told me on my first day in town, “you can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting some sort of festival.” Minneapolis was pretty dang entertaining too, but again a lot of that is seasonal. SD will not even be considered. Winner: Texas

6. Sports: SD has no pro teams and until recently no D-I college teams either. TX as a whole is packed with pro teams, but Austin has none. In MN I was ten minutes from Twins, Vikings, and Timberwolves action and 30 minutes from the Wild. Winner: Minnesota

7. Bar Scene: It shouldn’t even be a contest; Austin is home to one of the nation’s biggest, craziest, most diverse bar scenes. Minnesota doesn’t compete, but I grew up following Dad to his pool tournaments at seedy small-town bars like Korky’s in Yale, SD and those kinds of places are my favorites. And I really think Madison has it great with its bar variety–always dirt-cheap prices, frequent karaoke, and of course roadies. Winner: South Dakota

8. Transportation: Minneapolis is a major hub for air travel. Plus the city bus system is pretty good and the light rail made life easier when I lived in the burbs. Austin’s public transportation system is fairly weak from my limited experience. South Dakota doesn’t need to worry about such things. Winner: Minnesota

9. Housing, Cost of Living, Job Market: I’ll throw all these things in together cause they’re kinda related. Truth be told, all areas are decent. Austin was virtually recession-proof. Minneapolis housing is way cheaper than a lot of other cities its size. And in SD we could buy a mansion in the center of Doland for 1/8 the price of a 2-bedroom house in either Minneapolis or Austin. But for me to find a job in my field I first had to move from SD to MN; and then when I looked for jobs again I had to look outside MN because no one would so much as respond to my applications. Austin is very strong in all areas. Winner: Texas

10. People: I think wherever I’ve gone I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with generally good people. In South Dakota, I swear everyone knows everyone else within one or two people. If I ran into someone down here originally from any tiny village in the state, whether it’s Kennebec or Junius or Tyndall or Oacoma, I’d probably be able to find someone we both know if we talk it out for a while. I must also remember there are like 7 times more people in the Twin Cities metro than South Dakota combined. Austin minus its metro area is the same as South Dakota. Texans are more outgoing than Midwesterners, but it’s too unfair to group everyone together. Winner: Draw

So I don’t know, they all have their advantages. But, no matter how many times we move or how many places I live, I will always be a South Dakotan at heart!