Temp Hits 112, First MN Visitor, Hiking, & Houston!

First Visitor from Midwest Arrives on Hottest Day in History of Austin
Lauren and I were very excited to welcome our first Minnesota visitor to town this past week… Okay, he didn’t come here specifically to see us, but Dan Jaker was in Austin for business and we were happy to show him the town twice in three days!

I think I had met Dan only three or four times in the past, but a familiar face was a familiar face, something I haven’t seen much of over the past 70 days.

On Sunday we picked up Dan from his nearby hotel and took in the Austin hot sauce festival downtown. Mind you, Sunday was the hottest day ever in the history of Austin, checking in at 112 degrees at the airport (though the car thermometer and various bank thermometer displays showed temps as high as 116)! So what better way to spend the hottest day any of us have ever–and may ever–experience than standing in long lines to taste various hot sauces? But with this record Texas drought, 112 actually felt like 112, not a humid 129 or something, so it wasn’t outrageously unbearable. Well, I take that back… for one woman sitting on the staircase in the parking garage throwing up all over the floor while her friend poured a bottle of ice cold water on her head, it was unbearable.

After that, we drove around and viewed various filming locations from Friday Night Lights. I was delighted to learn that Dan was just as big of a fan as me. As I mentioned in a previous post, our Impala AC doesn’t blow out cold air when the temp hits 100, so we drove around down residential streets in the extreme heat with hot air blowing on us in search of seemingly ordinary houses. We arrived at Grandma Saracen’s house and took a couple pictures. Shortly later, we checked out Coach Taylor’s house. Just as we were taking our picture in front of the legendary TV landmark, a girl who lived in that house came outside and saw us. When I asked if we were at the Coach Taylor house, she responded by confirming it was the right house, but she had never seen the show before. Excuse me? If any house I lived in was featured for five seasons on a critically acclaimed TV series, you can bet I’d not only watch the show, but have every episode recorded and ready to show off to all my friends everytime someone came over! Crazy girl! We also visited East Dillon High School and saw the Lions’ practice field. Poor Lauren… she was a good sport and rode along although she has never seen the show.

Our day wrapped up with visits to some local pubs, a popular food trailer, and a climb to the highest point in Austin, Mt. Bennell.

Tuesday night was Dan’s free night on his trip, so we all went out to a Tex-Mex dinner at Baby Acapulco’s and then made a drive up to the Dillon Panthers football field from FNL in Pflugerville. The stadium was fenced off, so we had to settle for some photos from the outside. The night ended with some karaoke at the Canary Hut Pub.

116 degrees in Austin on August 28
116 degrees in Austin on August 28
Lauren at the Austin Hot Sauce Festival
Lauren at the Austin Hot Sauce Festival
Grandma Saracen's house from Friday Night Lights
Grandma Saracen's house from Friday Night Lights
Dan Jaker and I at Coach Taylor's house (as seen on Friday Night Lights)
Dan Jaker and I at Coach Taylor's house
The actual lights from Friday Night Lights!
The actual football field lights that you see on Friday Night Lights!
Lauren and I atop Mt. Bennell with the Austin skyline in the background
Lauren and I atop Mt. Bennell with the Austin skyline in the background

Hiking Behind the House
Something I probably had in excess in the Twin Cities but never took any advantage of whatsoever is hiking trails… or not, I’m not sure since I never looked into it. I think our apartment complex in Eden Prairie had some nice walking paths that went around a lake and through some trees, but I rarely used that. Surprisingly, here in Austin, there are a lot of public trails right in the city that go through forests. I’ve been living at Mark’s house over two months now and have long been interested in exploring the woods behind his house. Last weekend, Mark informed me that there is indeed a hiking trail that goes through the forest, so Lauren and I went for a walk and checked it out.

It was kinda cool. We were surrounded by trees, but at the same time, if you looked closely through the branches, you could see apartment complexes or roads just 100 feet away. There were lots of dried-up creeks where water had once flowed and an occasional obstacle, but otherwise a pretty nice man-made paved path. After about 20 minutes, Lauren got tired so we left the woods and took the sidewalk back home. I was still curious what all was out there since we didn’t finish the trail, so the next day when Lauren went to her knitting group, I went back out into the trees to continue on down the path. To my surprise, it kept going for quite a ways! Tunnels went under the roads and the path continued on into a new bunch of trees. At one point I came up behind an elderly couple walking their dogs and scared the crap out of them. I passed them and continued to walk before I popped out at the end of the path with no clue where I had wandered. (I had my GPS on my phone but decided it would be more interesting to not use it and try to find my way back on my own.) I went back into the trees as the sun was going down. With lots of forks in the path, it would be quite the adventure to see if I could get back to the house! 40 minutes later, just as the sun was setting, I emerged from the trees and ended up back at home. I hope this fall when things cool down a bit, we can get outside of town and find a state park or something with longer hiking trails.

There were some interesting and scenic things to see in the Balcones Woods.

Monsters in the Woods
Cool monster faces painted on some pipes in the woods.
Picturesque walking bridge on hiking trail
Picturesque walking bridge on hiking trail
Walking through the trail in Balcones Woods
Walking through the trail in Balcones Woods
Cacti in the Woods
Cacti in the Woods

Houston Bound
With the Labor Day weekend beginning tomorrow, Lauren and I will be making the relatively short 183-mile drive southeast to Houston Saturday morning. My great uncle and aunt Larry and Sherry live in a Houston suburb and we plan to go say hello and catch up with them, then take in the Astros-Brewers game at night. Plus it’s Carlos Lee Bobblehead night, wooo! We’ll spend the night Saturday and find something else touristy to do in Houston Sunday morning before heading back into town. If anyone has been to the nation’s fourth largest city and has any recommendations of things to do or see, let us know!


  1. Houston was my first business trip I had ever taken. And MM Park was my first baseball stadium outside of Minnesota. I did nothing in Houston but drink beer at the Flying Saucer down the street from the ballpark, and went to one game. Boy I wish I explored that stadium more than I did, but I am looking forward to your thoughts on the place.

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