PAX South and Texas Trip

Jan 28 – Feb 1, 2016 – We took a long weekend to head down to the second ever PAX South in San Antonio, TX.  The weather was so perfect that we only wound up going to one full day (plus the Friday night concerts).  So what other exploration did we do?

We had a late night and early morning to start the trip.
We had a late night and early morning to start the trip.

The first night we got into San Antonio was a bit late, so we just went to the hotel.  We were hoping they had a bar with local beer (draft, please), but they only had bottles.  The folks behind the desk recommended 502 Bar, which turned out to be a bar with fantastic draft beer (bonus: it’s just a few miles from the hotel).

Yes, it can get cold in the mornings in January.
Yes, it can get cold in the mornings in January.

Friday was a beautiful Texas day, and it seemed a shame to spend it indoors.  Instead we spent about 6 hours of it in the car, driving to and from Padre Island National Seashore.  This route meant that we passed by Rudy’s right around lunchtime, so sweet tea, moist brisket, and lots of airy white bread were on the menu (Louisa likes the pickles and hot jalapeño carrots; Tony prefers to stick to the basics).  You know it’s good when Rangers, sailors, and EMTs all eat there for lunch.

We hadn't seen this many terns since leaving South Carolina.
We hadn’t seen this many terns since leaving South Carolina.

Padre Island National Seashore is beautiful, and perfect for beach walking.  We saw pelicans, seagulls, shore birds, and got to dip our toes in the water. For dinner we ventured over to an outdoor bar/food truck area just past the convention center.  The wood fired pizza was excellent, as were the shrimp and hush puppies.  We also tried mini beef tacos, which were very good flavor wise but a tad skimpy portion-wise (hint: stick with the pizza, it’s just that good).  Afterwards we went to the Friday night concerts.  Highlights of the concerts were hearing Bit Brigade play Mega Man, and The Returners.

Do make time to walk the Riverwalk while in San Antonio.
Do make time to walk the Riverwalk while in San Antonio.

Saturday was PAX day – make a strip, the convention hall, and Saturday concerts.  For lunch we went to Boudro’s for some table-side guacamole and fish entries.  Dinner was a repeat of the food trucks, with a focus on the wood fired pizzas.  We always enjoy going to PAX, and being at the second year of PAX South was fun.  It’s definitely more board game focused, and family focused, than other PAX’s we’ve been too, so a bit of a different (but still fun) vibe.  Other highlights of the day were a walk along the river walk, and drinks at The Esquire Tavern, home of the longest wooden bar in Texas.

When the weather is nice, Austin residents go outside to play.
When the weather is nice, Austin residents go outside to play.

Sunday was another beautiful day, the warmest of the trip.  We decided to head up to Austin for a hike along the Butler Trail.  What we hadn’t counted on was that, given the nice weather, every dog loving, stroller pushing, jogging/running/walking/soccer playing group, would also be up on and around the riverwalk.  It’s pretty, but a bit too crowded for our taste.

We enjoyed seeing flowers in the middle of winter.
We enjoyed seeing flowers in the middle of winter.

Instead we drove about 45 minutes to Balcones National Wildlife Refuge.  There were fewer people here, and plenty of spots.  We did the loop up to the top, the walk is fairly easy (there is an uphill, but not too long).  We were still adjusting to the heat and humidity, both of which were a bit high for the time of year.  Fortunately there’s a handy, shaded bench halfway up the hill. We ended the day (and the trip) with dinner at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, followed by a less crowded walk on the Butler Trail.

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