Monthly Archives: October 2013

Natty Does Dallas

I was super excited when a good friend of mine (Natty), let me know that she wanted to come and see us somewhere in the US. She was working for a few weeks up in Minnesota and we were down in Texas. Dallas turned out to be the easiest place for us to meet.

So what do we know about Dallas? Nat: “All I know is that you will be there, and Khloe Kardashian lived there!” Perfect! Now we know a few other things too. We immersed ourselves in the local culture, driving on their crazy layered freeways, eating fried food and watching football….lots of football.


It was a fun weekend!! Dallas itself isn’t the most beautiful city, although we probably didn’t see enough of it to come to any legitimate conclusions. We spent most of our time on the outskirts…tailgating in car parks and staying in cheap hotels.

The professional and the hobo.

The professional and the bum.

Peek-a-boo Oscar.

Peek-a-boo Oscar.

Getting into the swing of things.

Getting into the swing of things.

The Texas State Fair was on that weekend. The big draw for us was that this was also where a massive university football grudge match was being played. Texas V Oklahoma. It would be the equivalent of a Western Derby at the Perth Royal Show….or the Oilers playing the Flames at the Calgary Stampede.  Crazy. Tickets were too expensive, so we tailgated up a storm and watched the game from the sports bar outside.

Show time.

Show time.

Mark watching the game. Everyone else is watching his moustache.

Mark watching the game. Everyone else is watching his moustache.

Trying to fit in but....

Trying to fit in but….

We forgot to wear orange....

We forgot to wear orange….

And cowboy boots.

And cowboy boots.

The Texas State Fair also has a ridiculous, but awesome, fried food competition. The grossest thing we saw was fried butter. I’m not sure how this is a good idea, in any way. There was also fried thanksgiving dinner and fried pumpkin pie. We introduced Natty to some North American delicacies (also mostly fried)…like hot wings (how will I live without them!!), BBQ pulled pork and corn dogs.


With bellies full of grease and empty wallets, we decided that it was probably best to head back to the van to nurse our headaches and whip up some dinner.


On Sunday we hit the trails for some brown bus boot camp.  Our van visitors always kick our butts. Nat’s weapon of choice was running hills. But first, we got lost in the woods.

IMG_8848   IMG_8845

That night we had tickets to the Cowboys V Redskins NFL game. We got the “Party Passes” which are the real cheap standing tickets. It’s more about just being at the game for the atmosphere, and the expensive beer. If you get to the balcony early enough for a front row position, the view is awesome. Otherwise, you have to peek over other people’s shoulders and watch the big screen.






It was so great to see Natty!! It was a really hard decision to leave Canada; however, every time I see my friends from home it reminds me that we have lots to look forward to when we get back there.

Nat’s alarm went off at 4am on Monday morning so she could catch her flight and make it back to work in time. We had got to bed sometime after 1am. In that moment I was sure glad it wasn’t me…..not for a while yet anyway.

Bus Fest

So there are a lot of reasons not to drive an old VW bus up to Alaska and then down to Argentina. I don’t think I can count how many people have said with a grimace …”You’re going where?? In that?? “. However, we’ve just had one of those experiences which completely validates our decision.

We were driving from Austin towards Dallas in Texas, when a fellow in an orange VW bus driving in the opposite direction madly waved us down. Mark thought that he was having van troubles, so we turned around and pulled over to see what the the problem was. He excitedly told us that we were going the wrong way. We laughed and told him we weren’t, as we were headed towards Dallas. “Well”, he said, “that is the wrong way”. That weekend there was a big VW camp out, about 50 miles back the way we came. This was on Thursday and we had to be in Dallas on Friday, we could definitely go…even if it was just for the night.

So off we went, blindly following the man in the orange VW.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That man turned out to be Terry. A super friendly Texan guy, with lots of VW knowledge. He refers to Australia as “South Texas” and Canada as “North Texas”… awesome. He invited us to his place after we’d been to Dallas in order to do some much needed work on the van.Terry and RemyTerry


We met so many great people (and dogs) at Bus Fest and were disappointed that we couldn’t stay for the entire weekend. From all accounts, the party hadn’t even started yet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



Get ready for the best dog names you’ve ever heard. Introducing….Indiana Bones and Crocadog Dundee.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


It was fun walking around and checking out other people’s buses and their amazing setups….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Oh, and their tattoos…..



Hiya Brown-Bus-ers, I’m Carly. Yet another friend north of the equator in Edmonton upon whom these two travelin’ gypsies have left their mark.  I was among the crew that went to Austin and have the honor of this week’s guest blog. 
I’ve never been to Texas before but some words that come to mind when I think of my first impressions are beer, tacos and sweaty. And yes I meant sweaty, not sweat. I’ll be moseying you through our activities in Austin right away here, but before I do that, I need to draw your attention to what happened on our first real day in Austin before the festival.
Go here:
Texas nectar

Texas nectar

Texas is hot y’all. We expected it to be hot no doubt, but when it was +34 with humidity, it was hard to do anything but drink beers and eat salty food.

Beers on the driveway

Little Mexico

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe six of us had rented a house, affectionately dubbed “the casita” by the owner. It was the perfect digs, close to South Congress, a main drag with food, bars and shopping in Austin.

The house had a little backyard, but it felt natural to bring the chairs on the drive in front of the shed. Also, there was talk of scorpions in the backyard, but I’m pretty sure that was all propaganda.


Feelin the burn.

Feelin the burn.

As an aside, apparently there was a possum living in the shed too. We didn’t see him, but the owner informed us that “that was the smell”.




We scored some bike rentals to get us down to the festival grounds for Austin City Limits, which was about 2 miles away. The festival itself was 3 days with such highlights as The Cure, Muse, The National, Junip, Depeche Mode, Grimes, and the incomparable (for some) Lionel Richie. He’s really just a vegas schmoozer who talks about what song of his to listen to when “you catch yo girl with yo best friend”. Pretty sexy stuff. During the days there was a big, covered but open to the air barn building, showing what else, but football. It was a pretty nice way to score some shade and yell if you felt like it.

The inevitable yogis at every festival

The inevitable yogis at every festival…and beefy texas zach in the background


Mark caught me


Gettin' crowded


Thank god the sun's down

We all kind of agreed that if we came back to Austin, we’d buy tickets to the aftershows, instead of the festival, to have the opportunity to see specific artists more up close and personal. And to get a chance to see more of Austin.

We took a little roadie to see Hamilton Pool one day, a 40 minute drive west of Austin.  It’s a jade green pool with a small waterfall in the heart of the texas desert; created when the dome of an underground river collapsed from massive erosion. When we got there though we were greeted with sad news, the pool was closed for swimming. Sad emoticon here.

Hamilton pool - full of e-coli bacteria, or as Ned put it, "too much poopy". No swimming.

Hamilton pool – full of e-coli bacteria, or as Ned put it, “too much poopy”. No swimming. Just looking.

Luckily the man at the gate of the pool told us where we could go for a swim nearby, so back into the bus we filed and this is where we ended up.

Private river - just don't swim to the other side, that's "private property"


Peach Bellini Smirnoff Ice - no joke, they are delicious on hot days. Kudos to Shosh for takin' a chance...

Value Village Swimsuit Edition

Now the trip wouldn’t have felt complete had we not done a couple of key things, repeatedly.

#1. Ate massive amounts of food – and actually this is one of the things I noticed that I missed most about Bec, her sound effects when she eats. It made me feel like no time had passed since they started their trip. Anyways, back to the food :) Here are some pics outlining some of the highlights; authentic truck tacos (papas y chorizo), homemade flatbread pizza (our late night go-to) and BBQ.

33 Austin - 15

33 Austin - 14

The boys were worried we hadn't ordered enough until they heard us say, "and a full rack of ribs please".

Texas BBQ: The boys were worried we hadn’t ordered enough until they heard us say, “and a full rack of ribs please”.

33 Austin - 22

33 Austin - 20

And #2. Tied one on. The nightlife in Austin seems pretty great, with lots of live music and open-air bars (all year patio season) and TONS of karaoke, especially down on 6th Street. So much in fact that we could be kind of choosey as to where we went.

Shania Twain anyone

Shania Twain anyone

I don't remember what song this was, but you should have seen the other pictures of them singing ;) It got more intense

I don’t remember what song this was, but you should have seen the other pictures of them singing … It got more intense

33 Austin - 23


I wish I had a better way of saying this, but I don’t so here goes. Mark and Bec are kind of remarkable. Every time I see them they never fail to remind me that life is short and you just gotta giver’ til you can’t give no more. I’m pretty sure that’s Texas’s state motto too. But seriously, there was one wall in Austin that I had to get a picture of, and I think it says it all. For me, and all of us back in the great white north.



Hot Carl