A long weekend in Colorado is always welcome to me. I have quickly learned that I love the mentality of the people in this part of the country and there tends to be great food. We were in a really nice little theatre in Fort Collins and I had gotten some great recommendations from my friend, Maddie, so we were set to go! We enjoyed going on the main strip right in town and found some great spots there. After Mongolian grill for lunch, we did two shows and I had dinner with Katie’s family at Austin’s, a really fantastic bistro. For dessert I had to take up Maddie’s tip for dark chocolate crème brulee at the Chocolate Café. Oh. My. Heavens. I don’t even know what to say. We also loved the bread pudding and tomato soup there.
That night we went out to a couple bars, which was particularly fun because Colorado State University is in town and we had fun mingling with all the students. Ha ha! Our hotel was a little ways out of town so we figured we would just take a cab back, but thankfully we made friends with a guy named Bill who volunteered to drive us in his pickup truck. 6 of us piled in and made the trek, but it was pretty funny to see all of us piled among his fly-fishing gear and everything!
The next morning a group of us guys walked in to get breakfast at the well-known spot, Snooze. We had heard that there would be a long wait, but that it would be worth it, so we went ahead and put our names in and got coffee for the hour-long wait. Thank goodness we did! Our brunch was just over-the-top. The servers and hostesses were so great and our food was out of this world. At the table we ended up having pineapple upside down pancakes, red velvet pancakes, sweet potato pancakes, plus eggs, bacon, corned beef hash… it never seemed to end! That just made my Sunday and my time in Ft. Collins. We went to Chocolate Café for dinner that night and ended our time back at the hotel playing Celebrity. What a crazy couple of days in Colorado. It was great to just gorge over those two days. Little did I know what Austin would hold! Oh gracious.
I have heard for a couple years how great Austin is and I was excited to discover it for myself! Our hotel was outside of town, so a few of us decided to chip in and share in renting a car for a few days to have the freedom to get around town as we pleased. We got in early on Monday and hit the ground running! First we had dinner at Trudy’s, an Austin Tex-Mex staple. From Mexican Martinis to stuffed avocados, we weren’t disappointed in our castmate, Ben’s recommendation! From there we decided to explore 6th street a bit. 6th street is the Austin equivalent to New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. Lined with bars and live music, we had a fun time trying to find the best spot. We heard some fun music and even ended up riding a mechanical bull! Getting into the Texas spirit was proving to be easy for our group, for sure! We ended up finding a fun spot called Buffalo Billiards where we played table shuffleboard for a bit. The night ended at Mozarts, a charming spot right on some water that was open late for coffee and locally made ice cream. There was even a fun Christmas light show set to music that capped off our night! All in one night we had fallen in LOVE with this city.
The next day a group of us went to the shooting range. It was a really fun time just having shooting competitions and trying out different guns. We all had a great time and ended up meeting some really nice people along the way. That afternoon I had Rudy’s BBQ. Ben actually used to work there and gave us the inside scoop on what meats to order, sauces to use, etc. Nothing like a great BBQ meal outside under the sun to get you ready for a show! We performed for the week at the Bass Concert Hall on the University of Texas campus. It was a big theatre and reminded me a lot of Whitney Hall in Louisville. The audiences were just so generous to us the entire week, having so much fun and enjoying the show out loud! That night an opening night party was thrown for us at a local spot and we headed back to Buffalo Billiards for another round of shuffleboard. We quickly realized our addiction to the game and a competitive spirit was born around the shuffleboard table among our cast. Ha ha!
Wednesday was our last full day with the car so we all piled in and headed to South Congress, a quirky street lined with vintage stores, great restaurants, local flavor and fashions. Austin is known for its food trucks, a trend that is growing in cities. Not just your typical street meat, these carts are parked in pods and groups ALL OVER the city and serve gourmet quality food. Everything from cupcakes to bbq to Thai… you can find ANYTHING. We explored those and then started filling our bellies. We had Home Slice pizza, Sugar Mama’s Cupcakes, and tacos at Polvos Mexican all in a matter of a couple hours! Oh my heavens!!! That kept our tummies full while we shopped at some fun vintage stores and a great men’s store called Stag. We also went to Barton Springs Pool, a really unique watering whole right in Austin where a spring has been controlled and used as a big public swimming hole. That night after the show a group of us went to play shuffleboard and I ate an incredible burger at Casino el Camino, a dive bar that was famous for its burgers, featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”
The next day we knew we had to really take advantage of the last few hours of car access so we drove all the way out to Ben’s house and to the famous Salt Lick BBQ. On the drive there I dreamt out loud of tons of meat just smoking over a huge pit and I was NOT disappointed! I had a plate of brisket, ribs, and sausage, but was quickly upgraded to the all-you-can-eat plate so I could enjoy more and more! I won’t even discuss the blackberry cobbler for dessert. All of it was just OUT OF CONTROL! We had some understudy rehearsals that day that were really encouraging and I felt great to have gotten pretty much the whole show as Cable under my belt.
The weekend was exciting because our Nellie understudy, Rachel, went on for the first time! It was so exciting to see her hard work paying off for the crowds in Austin and all of us were just super pumped, watching and cheering on her every move from the wings. We decided to make Friday night a big night out to experience Austin’s 6th street in full force. The bus dropped us off and we walked around a bit to find somewhere we could dance and we ended up at some bar that we ended up referring to as Bali Hai! Ha! It was SO FUN. There was a loose jungle or African theme, but we basically went upstairs to the glass dance floor where a hip DJ was playing GREAT music and mixing it up for us all to dance the night away. At one point, though we all looked up and realized that there was no roof! The dance floor was open to elements and we danced away underneath a full moon and with giant elephant tusks forming a sort of canopy over us. It was so fantastic! We headed to another dingier place afterwards in a basement where we had a funny encounter with some smokers in the bathroom…. Sheldon…. The night was capped off getting late-night food from a food truck and heading home, having conquered 6th street and marked our territory!
The weekend finished up smoothly. I had my last brilliant meal from Hut’s burgers and on Sunday night we celebrated Rachel’s run as Nellie by going out. First, though, I had a surprise up my sleeve. I heard about a place called Tiff’s Treats in Austin that delivered hot cookies by order. At the start of our last show in Austin I put in an order for 2 dozen assorted cookies to be delivered to the stage door at the end of the show. Just as planned, they arrived and were warm and WONDERFUL for a treat to celebrate our AMAZING run in Austin. (My dressing roommates were pretty psyched, too.)
Wow! Hope your mouth is watering by now. Thanks, Austin, for probably my favorite week on tour! Can’t wait to return!