Labor Day Weekend: Hamilton Pool, Texas vs. Wyoming, and Houston

Labor Day is one of my favorite holidays. To me, it means new beginnings: a new school year and a new age (I was born on Labor Day Monday).

Beach Jigsaw Puzzle

Traditionally, my family spends the long weekend in Rehoboth, Delaware enjoying late afternoon beach sun, assembling jigsaw puzzles and shopping for fall clothes at the outlet malls. This year was no exception, but sadly Rehoboth is just too long of a drive from Austin. It’s okay; we had a great time in Texas too. Get ready for an incredibly long recap.


Friday was a blur of signing mortgage documents, going over the home inspection report and prepping our apartment for guests. I’m happy to say that our inspection went pretty well. Stephen and I are first time home buyers, so of course every little detail on the report made our stomachs turn. Well, my stomach turned. Stephen was cool as a cucumber per usual.

I felt much better after calling my Dad. He assured me that the issues on our report were nothing major. Is there anything that can’t be made better with a call home?

After the inspection, we raced home, gathered tax returns and bank account statements, signed exactly 14,000 documents for our lender, and swung by FedEx. It was a pretty stressful afternoon, but it felt great to have it off our plate before the holiday weekend.

Our friends Laura and Mike flew in from Boston this weekend to visit. Their flight got delayed (yet another excellent experience with United Airlines), so Stephen picked them up from the airport while I headed downtown to grab a spot in line for Master Pancake’s roasting of Fight Club.

Master Pancake Austin

Master Pancake is a signature series of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, usually held at the Ritz location on 6th Street. The comedy troupe picks a movie (sometimes campy, sometimes acclaimed), gives it a thorough mocking and essentially destroys the film for future viewing. It’s so great; we’ve been to several shows.

We’re not the only fans. You pretty much need to arrive an hour before showtime if you want any chance of getting adjoining seats for a 3+ person group.

After the show (which was hilarious, as always), we swung by Whole Foods. You might think a grocery store is a strange place to take out-of-town guests, but the Lamar location is really impressive. Plus, Laura is a Registered Dietitian (i.e. interested in healthy foods), and Mike had secretly ordered a carrot cake for her birthday that we needed to pick up.


We woke up at 8 on Saturday- aren’t I just the nicest hostess?– to get an early start for Hamilton Pool. In my opinion, visiting Hamilton Pool is a requirement when entertaining out-of-town company in Austin. The nature preserve is a short drive from Austin, and the swimming hole is just beautiful.

Hamilton Pool Labor Day

It’s a good thing we arrived early. We were one of the last cars admitted before the parking lot reached capacity.

Hamilton Pool Cave

We hung out for a couple of hours swimming, taking photos and reading in the sun.

Hamilton Pool Mike and Laura

Aren’t Laura and Mike a cute couple? They’re newlyweds; we had a great time attending their wedding in Minneapolis this June.

Hamilton Pool Lindsay and Stephen

Stephen and I. Please ignore the double jointed elbow.

We packed up and left before noon. I have a rule during Texas summers: when the sun invades my line of shade, it’s time to leave. Bad things happen when I disobey this rule… like the painful sunburn on my back earned while fishing last weekend.

On our way back into town, we swung by Westcave Cellars Winery for a tasting. It’s important to hydrate in the Texas heat, don’t you know?

Westcave Cellars Winery

For $10, we each tasted 10 wines and took home a glass. Check out the fancy birthday wine glass they gave to Laura!

Have you heard that Texans are friendly people? I can assure you it’s true. One of the employees chatted with us for at least 30 minutes about UT football when she learned we had tickets to the game that night. For the past 26 years, she’s attended every single season opener. Obviously she was sad to break the streak, so we promised to cheer extra loud in her honor. When she heard it would be our first game, she went so far as to pull out her cell phone and call her son, securing us an invite to his tailgate. How nice is that?

I’ll have to remember this winery when my family comes to visit in November. My parents are renting a house on Lake Travis for my dad’s 60th birthday, and a bunch of family friends will be joining as well. I think a Hill Country wine tour could be in order.

Polvos Nachos

Lunch at Polvos on South 1st Street was next on the agenda. The food there is just incredible; our table ordered a mix of fajitas, flautas and breakfast items. I especially love their salsa bar. The marinated carrots are perfectly spicy (by my mild standards) and surprisingly addictive.

As I said before, Saturday’s game was an inaugural UT experience for all four of us. We dared not show up without some sort of burnt orange on our bodies. Target to the rescue!

Hook 'em Horns

Sorry for the blurry picture. We asked a random fan to snap our photo, and she looked positively mortified. This was the best shot we got before she sprinted off into the crowd. Are we so obviously new at this?

UT vs. Wyoming

Looking at this photo, I’m still in awe over the size of the stadium. Stephen and I went to ACC schools: Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. Our football games were spirited, but not like this. To put it in perspective, Scott Stadium at UVA holds 60,000 fans at max capacity. There were well over 100,000 fans at the UT game Saturday night. We had to take ten flights of escalators to our seats. ESCALATORS. At a college stadium. I die.

My only complaint with the stadium was the lack of BBQ concessions. I think that should be addressed.

UT Stadium Labor Day

Tickets weren’t exactly cheap, but I’m so glad we went. It’s been on my Austin bucket list since last October. I can finally check it off!

The game was fairly exciting. We won, as was expected, but it wasn’t a huge blowout or anything. Wyoming actually played a pretty good game.

I wouldn’t call myself a big football fan. I like attending games for their social and entertainment value, and I understand the rules, but you won’t catch me joining a fantasy league anytime soon.

When I get fidgety, I take pictures.

Keep Austin Weird Shirt

UT Half Time Show

Tampon Ad

Hah. What a great ad.

The game ended late, so we pretty much boogied straight home to go to bed. After a few episodes of Arrested Development, of course. Who’s excited for the new season?


This post is getting pretty long, and I didn’t take any pictures on Sunday and Monday, so let’s breeze through the last two days of the weekend, shall we?

On Sunday we drove over to Houston and visited with some friends in the area. Christina and Andrew recently moved into a new house near Lake Houston, and we were excited to check it out. It was absolutely gorgeous. I still can’t get over how affordable housing in Texas is compared to the D.C. area.

Sunday night we ate dinner at Beaver’s in the Heights. We picked it mainly because there were 12 of us total, all coming from different corners of Houston. Beaver’s was a fairly central meeting spot, and we all agreed BBQ was necessary to complete Laura and Mike’s culinary tour of Texas.

I ordered the BBQ tofu. It was a poor choice. Do you ever order something because the sides sound really good? That’s what happened here; I was intrigued by the grilled pearl onions and garlic chips. Next time I’ll order the chili made with local boar and lager. You live, you learn.


Monday morning we relaxed around my aunt’s house and I read the Pioneer Woman‘s cookbooks cover to cover. If you’ve never checked out her blog or seen her show or read her cookbooks, you should. The woman is an inspiration. She’ll make you want to quit your job, move to a ranch, herd cattle and bake biscuits. Sounds like a plan to me!

Stephen and I drove back to Austin after lunch, stopping at our favorite gas station Buc-ee’s to take advantage of their cheap car wash and vacuum. It was a beaver-themed Houston trip, apparently.

Back in town, we scoped out Labor Day sales and scored a new washer and dryer for the house. Multiple loads of laundry and an Entourage marathon followed.

And that, my friends, was our weekend!

How did you spend the holiday? Are you a college football fan? If you’re an Austinite, do you agree with our choice of activities for visiting friends?

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