Trip to Salt Lick
Many locals have told me and Lauren that the best BBQ in the state is at the Salt Lick in Driftwood, about 40 minutes south of Austin. I’ve eaten some great BBQ here–Iron Works, Rudy’s, Stubbs–so I couldn’t wait to see how good Salt Lick was. 

Lauren, Baxter, and I went on Saturday night with our fellow MN-to-TX friends Tom and Bobbi Jo, and their three out-of-town guests from Minnesota. My mind was blown when we arrived. This place was way out in the country on a ranch-like setting and there were like 500 cars in the parking lot. The Salt Lick featured massive outdoor and indoor dining areas with a live band. It’s BYOB, so we planned ahead and brought our own liquor.

Somewhere we had read Salt Lick was dog-friendly, but when we arrived it was clear that Baxter was the only non-human in the crowd of 1,000+ people. No one seemed to mind though. I got the four-meat combo and it certainly lived up to the hype. Even the sides were really good considering I am not usually a huge fan of potato salad, coleslaw, and baked beans.

Baxter was the absolute hit of the show though. Dozens of people came over to hold and pet him. One man asked if he could feed the beagle. When I said it was fine, the man asked me if the dog preferred brisket or turkey. I said to him, “You could wrap a turd in leaves and he’ll eat it, I don’t think he’s going to care… but since you asked, the brisket.” The man obliged and fed Baxter a prime piece of carefully wrapped brisket.

Ryan and Lauren at Salt Lick, Driftwood, Texas
Us at The Salt Lick
Ryan and Lauren at Salt Lick, Driftwood, Texas
My 4-meat combo at Salt Lick BBQ

7-Mile Hike
I suppose the meat was a good reward for the pooch, because earlier in the day, Lauren, Baxter, and I headed over to Walnut Creek Park for a hike.  Lauren and I had taken a brief walk through the woods once over Labor Day weekend and thought it would be super fun to do again now that we’re beagle owners, especially since this park allows dogs to be totally off-leash and he can run about freely.

After wandering the same path we had taken the first time and quickly popping right back out at the entrance 40 minutes later, I was a little disappointed that we hadn’t been able to go further. The woods looked so much bigger than that. We took a little bit of a different path the second time, and soon we were kinda lost. We had begun walking on a mountain bike path that twisted in and out of the thickets. Every ten minutes or so a biker would come around a corner and Baxter would take off chasing the bike, narrowly avoiding being run over and flattened. He would keep up with them for a very long time, and the bikers would have to stop so he would stop and we could catch back up.

After a while we realized we were just getting deeper and deeper into the forest, and soon we popped out the complete opposite side, at least an actual mile from the entrance. Factor in all the twisty paths and it was much further than that. Bax was getting a bit pooped out. Heck, we were getting a bit pooped out. It took a bit of extra strength, but we managed to find out way out. It’s impossible to say how far we wandered, but considering we walked at a brisk pace for three full hours over 200+ acres, I estimate it was around seven miles.

Beagle’s Quirks
Since he basically occupies our free time now, there is much to say about the little tyke. He is so damn cute I can rarely stay mad at him, but most of the time he seems like he is the spawn of Satan who emerged straight from the bowels of hell. Peeing, biting, barking, pooping, scratching… he’s usually doing at least two of those at any given moment. But he is just a pup, and is so wound up with energy we couldn’t keep up if we tried.

Unlike former roommate beagle Roscoe, Baxter doesn’t really give a crap about food… unless it’s ice cream, gourmet popcorn, or alcohol. He will nibble a little at his food but leave most of it in the dish. But if I go to the freezer for ice cream, he could awake from a deep slumber on the drop of a dime and be in my face howling for a bite. He also goes berserk whenever someone is drinking beer or liquor. I will usually dip a finger in my Jim Beam and give him a taste, or toss him an ice cube, which only triggers his lust even more.

When we go outside, he’s rarely concerned about walking and getting exercise. He is absolutely ob-freaking-sessed with the downstair neighbor’s porch. This guy likes to feed stray cats and there are always catfood remnants sitting around. Baxter would give up all of his limbs for just one little taste, even though his likely superior dogfood is just sitting in a bowl upstairs. This neighbor has a small opening in his fence, presumably for the cats to come visit him, and Baxter’s mission in life is to see what is on the other side of this opening. He has wriggled his way in a couple times, and comes out looking like he had entered some sort of alternate universe or new dimension or time warp, and he wants back in so bad.

Other quirks… I often find him licking the toilet. Not drinking the toilet water, mind you, just… “cleaning” the toilet. He likes to chase leaves blowing in the wind, which if you’ve never seen a frisky puppy bobbing around for a fluttering leaf, is quite amusing. Whenever we get to one particular patch of grass on the apartment grounds, he loses his mind and starts running frantically in circles. Not just to the left, or just to the right, or up the path a ways, but this one particular 10′ x 10′ square of grass for some reason sets him off.

beagle in a halloween costume
Beagle's first Halloween costume

Brief Non-Beagle Notes…

  • I have been listening to the comedy radio station, 102.7, a lot more lately. I like how they have little 2-minute snippets of comedy acts so people like me with short attention spans can stay entertained.
  • Desks shuffled around at the office this week. I now sit right next to my boss. Somehow I imagine it is to keep me on track, or help me along, but all I’ve been told is the switch was made so the “bros” could sit together.
  • I went 1-for-3 with a run and RBI in Tuesday’s 16-14 softball defeat. The two balls I hit hard were caught, and the one I blooped over second base fell in for a hit.
  • We’re beginning to make plans for our Christmas trip back to the Midwest, likely December 23-January 1. The debate is between driving and flying, but I suppose we’ll take the more expensive route and fly back and then rent a car.
  • The weather report for Austin on Thursday shows temps dipping way down into the upper 60s for highs. We’ve been at or around 90 for the last couple weeks, so for us it will be a nice change. We’re celebrating the cold weather with Lauren preparing some hearty chili.
  • Speaking of which, I’m wondering if Lauren should even pursue work… in the last two weeks I have come home to the following homemade dishes: chicken Makhani, fajitas, Thai chicken pizza, enchiladas verde con pollos, butternut squash soup with garlic naan, sweet potato shrimpcakes, and a few others. It just might be worth the dip in household income.
  • If you haven’t seen already, my latest photos are up on Facebook, and of course the daily photo blog is always up on Tumblr.