Fam Jam

Every year my brother,sister and I along with our spouses and my nephew get together for a weekend of camaraderie and football. This year we chose Texas as our destination. My nephew is an exuberant fan so he suggested we do a college game Saturday followed by an NFL game on Sunday.

We leave Molly at home knowing that our friend Sandy would be arriving to stay with her and Otto. At the airport I realize that I’ve left my phone in the car. Could I survive the weekend without my appendage?? It would be a definite challenge.

I’ve never been to Texas and I was surprised at the heat. 99F and sunny. By all accounts better beach than football weather but it was game on. My brother organized a huge SUV and was our dedicated designated driver all weekend. He did airport shuttles and all. We all arrived at the rental house my brother procured which we dubbed the tree house. It was a cute multi-level home with 4 bedrooms nestled amongst the trees in the hillside around Austin. Surrounded by multimillion dollar homes this place was just rustic enough to be charming and modern enough to have AC. Luckily. It was hot.

On Friday night we decided to venture out on the town. My nephew chose a dueling piano bar in town called Pete’s and when we arrived the place was starting to fill up. There was about 3 or 4 bridal showers celebrating in the mixed crowd of young student types and more mature guests intermingled around the two back to back grand pianos. There was a long bar and tables and a set of bleachers on the main floor and a balcony mezzanine with tables overlooking the stage. That’s where we sat for the night. The entertainment was excellent! The pianists were talented musicians with wicked senses of humour. Their banter and joking made the night. And the people watching was bar none. The young bridezillas were on fire drinking up a storm and dancing drunkenly on stage. I wonder if any of them made it to the alter the next day? Yikes!

We left the bar and had to navigate the snaking line up outside of people waiting to get in to Pete’s. The streets are blocked off by police and only pedestrians and scooters are allowed after 8 pm. So it was basically a street party. Tons of people moving around amongst the various bars and eateries. A really neat vibe. Rudy and my sister went to get pizza. We we starving after drinking and singing and laughing. We load into the vehicle with our pizza in the back. My sister and I are in the third (back) row with our nephew. He’s handing out pizza. We can’t wait to get to the treehouse. We need food stat! As we gobble my nephew notices that our thighs are fused by sweat. The observation is so hilarious that our row begins to giggle. The giggles turn into laughing fits that has the rest of our group laughing along. If laughter is the best medicine I’m cured! Once we get back to the treehouse we are beat. It’s bed time. As the senior members of our group we scored the master bedroom and en-suite. It was perfect.

Next day we got up leisurely and popped out for vittles without the kids. We end up at a lakeside bistro serving aromatic coffee brews and a variety of pastries and sandwiches. We enjoy our selections outside on the deck overlooking the water. It’s a lovely spot. But it’s hot! A lot of patrons are noshing and reading and several have brought their dogs. Sigh. I miss my girl. Rudy is quick to remind me that she’s having fun at home where it’s much cooler. As Rudy is assuaging my angst he receives a text from Molly (Sandy) saying “I’m fine but I miss you …”. How wonderful.

We pick up the kids and head to the university for the Texas Longhorns game versus Oklahoma. The university is vast. I mentioned scooters earlier. This is the preferred mode of transport around town and campus. These scooters are stand up electric models with handle bars (skateboard style). You tap the ignition with your credit card and the unit unlocks. You can scoot manually or electrically. These things are everywhere and used by the masses. Very innovative and cool. Of course there’s no “winter” in Austin.

The campus is buzzing with action in anticipation of the game. It’s an evening game which is a blessing due to heat. We wander around and end up at a Bavarian style beer hall with food options from the outdoor food trucks. We are grateful to be inside and cool off. The place is packed but somehow Frank and my brother score a huge table to accommodate us all. We load up the table with food to nibble and beers to quench. Yum!!

As we head back outside into the heat we realize we are going to sweat at the game. Sun or no sun, it was hot. Our seats are beauties in the end zone and the huge stadium is electric with excitement. The marching band is lining up and the “spirit teams” (PC for cheerleaders) are hopping and dancing around the sidelines. Suddenly “Freefallin” (TomPetty) is blasting and our attention is riveted on the sky as two skydivers cascade into the stadium as they wave the Longhorns flag. Wow. The band is in formation and is a perfectly synchronized group as they maneuver into words and images visible from above. We enjoy the aerial view from the huge screen. Simply amazing. It’s my first ever US college game and it does not disappoint. All the boxes are checked from my imagination of the experience. The stadium is packed. Not a single empty seat. We are wedged into tight sweaty spaces on the metal stands. Most of the game is spent on our feet cheering. There’s a couple of young men in front of us. They are using side towels to mop off their sweat. I nudge my sister and tell her I’m going to ask if we can borrow the towels for our faces. I’m kidding of course but my sisters face contorts into a seasick grimace as she imagines the thought. Big yuck.

There was an unexpected highlight to the game courtesy of Matthew McConaughey who is a professor at the university and a big football fan. He was at the game in a box seat and every now and then the cameras would focus on him cheering and dancing. Nice additional touch.

After the game (which is by far the longest football game I’ve ever been to ) we join the other 100K plus fans (yes. Austin has the largest stadium in the Big 12 conference) who are trudging to their rides in the heat. Amazing. My sister clocks us at over 12,000 steps. In the heat.

We collapse into our beds knowing that we are wheels up at 9 am for the car-ride to Dallas. Since we aren’t coming back to the treehouse our luggage is coming with. 8 adults and baggage. One huge Ford Expedition loaded to the gills. And we are off. My brother at the helm. The GPS figured it was a 3.5 hour trek. But they didn’t account for my brothers lead foot at 90+ mph. Mario Andretti look out. The impressive thing was the vehicle and how it handled. Gas mileage not so much.

The Dallas AT&T stadium is spectacular. Seeing it in person has been a definite “must do ” on my bucket list. It’s a 10 out of 10. We have amazing seats again and since it’s an indoor stadium we aren’t sweating. The feel is of an outdoor venue because the architecture manipulated the light and space. Unlike Skydome which is cavelike when the roof is closed. The game is predictably one sided as the Cowboys are playing the Dolphins (who suck). But the atmosphere makes up for it. And so do the cheerleaders. There’s no question. They are cheerleaders. Yowza!!

After the game we head to a neat resto called Whiskey Cakes. The menu is very hip and the cocktails (referred to as “elixirs”) are fresh and innovative. We sit at a high top table and devour a board appetizer followed by interesting entrees. Dessert is whiskey cakes served with fresh whipped cream and smothered in bourbon butter sauce. Totally yummy.

Back at the hotel (our accommodation for the night) we rendezvous for our last drink together of the weekend. We are all travelling our separate ways the next morning. It was a whirlwind of epic proportions. We hug. It’s a solid group hug of siblings. A connection for life that will stand the test of time. How lucky are we?

Love me a good fam jam. Love. My. Sibs.

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