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Tom Travels Days 15-16.5 Austin

November 10, 2010

Downtown Austin on the Colorado River

Most of you know, my travels have brought me home to Chicago now. As I finish updating my pictures and stories for this adventure, don’t worry, the blog must go on. I will continue to write about my life as a PhD deserter, 29 year old arthritis patient, and entrepreneur following my #1 rule, let you be you.

A Focus Group in the Woods

First on my agenda in Austin was a drive to Smithville into a deeply wooded and secretive research facility. Why? As I continue to build my company from the ground up, I’ve been asking for assistance from some unusual sources. I am a fan of Twitter and I’ve made a few friendships via this social media platform, I’ll call them twitterships.  One of my twitterships is with a grad student, @flutesUD. When she saw my tweets that I’d been organizing some focus groups in Chicago and was coming to Austin, she offered to set up a group at her university. I am sincerely grateful for her assistance as I was handed the opportunity to speak with a few researchers and gather feedback about my future company and inefficiencies in the Life Science/Medical Research Industry. #thankyou

The evening would involve beer and taco’s, at Torchy’s Tacos with some friends! I first experienced Torchy’s on my last visit to Austin back in April of 2008 when it was just a taco stand working out of a 1940’s mobile home. For 30 months my prefrontal cortex had been craving Mr. Pink and The Democrat, like this hamster craves his nuts. After endulging ourselves we walked to a bar down the road, and a couple neat Glenlivets and beers later, I was feeling good. So good I decided to sit down and have a conversation with the remarkable woman in red.

Convo with the Woman in Red

It felt like one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to learn from such an experienced individual. 80 years old, dolled up, and looking lonely, I sat with her for 20 minutes trying to figure out what the conversation was about. The bell rang and our encounter ended as last call was announced.

As we poured out of the bar, the adventure home was beginning. One luxury Chicago boasts is the ubiquitous cab drivers always looking for a fare; Austin lacks this. However! Another first of Tom’s Travels…Tipsy Taxi. What a great idea! See, I had driven my car to the bar with the intent of taking a cab home, and back in the morning for my vehicle. But Tipsy Taxi solves all your DUI worries. They will drive you and your car home, and you pay them what you feel they deserve. Sweet deal!

Wondering, how long until I call you home?

Day 16 was spent driving around Austin, checking for the perfect neighborhood to live. When will I move? Who knows, but its inevitable. With the city’s motto, “Keep Austin Weird,” where else would I live.

Downtown Austin from the northwest

I spent some time at the Capitol Building (currently being renovated):

Former office of former President Bush

and visited another campus:

Longhorns!

Every time I’m on campus I can’t help but pay attention to the one monument holding a place in U.S. history:

Sniper up above

On August 1, 1966 former Marine Charles Whitman barricaded himself in the bell tower and took aim on civilians down below. Terror, and blood, spilled into the streets as 16 people were killed and 32 injured.

Just think, students heading to class, enjoying a sunny day along Guadalupe Blvd (from where this picture was taken), and BAM! Shots fired from above as Charles Whitman played god for 96 minutes. For the full story and chills down your spine, read here.

Fear not, I always prefer to end a tragic story on a positive note: a tower story with a happy ending.

By about 4PM I began to make my way north to Dallas. Traffic was brutal! 3 accidents along the way clogged up the main artery north. It was about an hour into the drive I had a great idea:

Lightbulb turns on

Since there is no wall dividing highway from utility road, lets make my own exit ramp! And here I was driving over the grassy middle ground onto the utility road saving myself a whopping 5 minutes! At least its fun to say I drove off the highway over the grass.

 

Driving along the utility road

 

Actually, I lied, it wasn’t my idea. I had seen a few pick up trucks do it first, and said  to myself “why not.”

I passed Baylor University along the way:

Baylor University

Another Baylor building

and watched the sunset as I headed into Forth Worth for dinner and eventually Dallas:

Come back tomorrow when I talk about Joe T Garcia’s amazing dinner, tailgaiting at the World Series, and why Torchy’s Tacos motivates me.

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