Early Austin Fun ~ Vintage BNF

Early Austin to us refers to that time somewhere between 1992 and 1998 in Austin, TX where we first lived in a travel trailer after moving there from San Antonio ~ then moved into a crack alley house in East Austin near the airport where we dodged bullets from gang fights and feared the local hippie mafia ~ and later moving out near Lake Travis in a killer house that we stayed in for about six months before relocating to Washington for work.

This picture was taken on Greg and Jenn’s baby vacation where we flew to Reno, rented a car and drove to San Francisco, south to Monterey, then PCH (Hwy 1) all the way to Eureka visiting Tahoe on the way back to Reno.

Half Moon Bay is south of San Francisco in a canyon where there is an annual pumpkin festival. Very cool place, and Jenn’s favorite looking fruit and potentially object. Jenn Loves pumpkins.

The kids were very glad to see us again.

So we left to visit Ireland and Amsterdam on Dell’s dollar.

This was about the only time we actually ‘worked’.  Apparently the Irish prefer drinking and holidays over work. We ‘worked’ with Lynn Duffy (right), Greg, Jenn, John O’Dowd and his wife, Asian guy and his wife, and crazy white American guy from Dell Austin and his wife Jennifer (we suck at names, Lynn and John were just easy to remember way cool Irish people and Jenn remembers Jennifer’s name).

We left Austin on a Monday morning and arrived in Limerick on Irelands western coast on a Tuesday morning after flying all night and checked into our really cool hotel near a castle.

We were very tired and hungry. We went to the hotel’s plush restaurant and couldn’t find a thing on the menu other than biscuits that sounded good for breakfasty time. Biscuits are cookies in Ireland. Car trunks? ~ pop the boot. Cigarettes ~ fags. We also picked up on some of the accent while there after only a week.

Anyway ~ we arranged to start ‘work’ at the factory on Wednesday working through Sunday. Wednesday we toured the factory and solved a minor manufacturing problem towards launching the first Inspiron system in Europe. At 3pm’ish the Irish crew started getting ready for their pints, by 4pm the factory was clear and the pubs were filling up. When we said our ‘see ya tomorrows’ we were told the factory was closed Thursday and Friday for an Irish holiday. ‘So we’ll see you Saturday…’ Nope. Factory’s closed through the weekend for inventory. So begins our expense paid holiday in Ireland!!

And the Irish aren’t very generous with their road size or shoulders. They also drive like drunken Irish maniacs. Oh wait, they are. God we love those idiots!

Those idiots‘ -Cheryl Nodland.

The Cliffs of Moher are between Galway and Limerick and rise over 700 feet above the water as a sheer cliff. Jenn really freaked Greg out by standing here. Someone told us it takes several hours to get a boat under these cliffs to recover those that have fallen ~ they are often never found and space aliens live in the cave.

Glad to have Jenn off that edge ~ Greg bought her this really cool handmade purple wool blanket from a vendor in the parking lot that shows up often in our pictures on the site.

Pubs are kind of a theme in Ireland. We spent a lot of time in them.

With nuns.

After a week in Limerick and mostly Galway on the western coast of Ireland, we drove through the center of Ireland to Dublin on the eastern coast with no plan other than an existing plane ticket home in a week out of Schipool International between Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. We researched getting to Amsterdam by boat, train, car, and air. We finally chose air because it was the cheapest!?! Once we got there, we had to find a hotel in a crazy fast paced city compared to Ireland, we were stressed and finally ended up here not really sure how.

Not the finest of hotels in Amsterdam (we hope). The beds were basically foam padding and the bathroom was down the hall shared by the entire floor. Fortunately the floor only had about four rooms. Weird thing about Amsterdam is that the buildings were built according to the property taxes charged at a rate of how much room on the street they take up ~ this made the buildings thin and very tall with pretty extreme staircases.

This is the primary form of transportation throughout Amsterdam and we were very sore.

Amsterdam is laid out next to the North Sea (or a bay of, or maybe a different sea altogether, but definitely salt water as opposed to a lake or something) through a half moon shaped series of alternating streets and canals with cross streets all going to Central Station like half a wagon wheel and prostitution and organic drugs like pot and mushrooms are legal, but not heroin and cocaine that the pushers on the street try to sell you. And the prostitutes have to be ‘registered’ or it’s illegal. Weird.

Sex museum.

When we were in the red light district which is a shopping district for prostitutes in display windows with small bedrooms ~ we walked by a porn shop with no image editing in their window displays and noticed some small children playing right in front of this display as if nothing was there. We also noticed that there was not a plethora of ‘high on drugs’ hallucinating people all over the streets acting chaotically while raping and pillaging and killing and shooting each other. As a matter of fact, we only saw a pair of police one time over four days. Amsterdam was a very populated, international, safe, peaceful, and overall pleasant place to be. The architecture was phenomenal and we found out after coming back to the states that the house that Anne Frank holed up in was just a few houses away from our hotel. Apparently pick pocketing is the only significant threat in Amsterdam ~ unless of course you consider live sex shows in theaters with seating for 100s a threat.

Central station.

We had to get out of this crazy city after a few days so we took the train to Zaandvort (zhon-vort) on the North Sea (positive this time) which was much more relaxing. That’s a lousy picture from our hotel room window with the waves of the North Sea breaking at the mid left and some sort of automotive testing track or race track below that.

Alrighty then. Back in the states we continued goofing off with friends ~ this time we took the babies to Maricopa River Ranch Resort on the Guadalupe river near Canyon Lake between Austin and San Antonio (wouldn’t it be easier to look it up on mapquest or something?).

Melissa is one of Jenn’s best friends from San Antonio. Melissa and Jenn met while pregnant together with Ashley and Austin. By this time we had all our babies and Melissa had two ~ that was five babies and five adults sleeping in one hotel room.

Those are parenting gang signs ~ note the baby bottle next to the Bud Light…

Yo yo yo ~ babies in the crib, we be chillin tryin’ hard to look cooler than the teen group that showed up and was tryin’ to look all cooler than us Family types.

But they turned out to be the wimpy ones and went to bed early, yo. Dawg. Schnizzle.

So we made sure they were out cold…

And tied all their shoelaces together…

After mixing up the pairs. Laces and shoes were wet from a day on the river so we made sure to double tie the knots really, really tight. Quite fun the next morning listening to them blame each other and never suspecting the Family group with babies next door.

We did a lot of camping with Melissa and her kids. That’s Jason, one of his friends, Sunny, and Ashley.

This is in Bastrop State Park near Austin. It’s very cool through here where a relatively small strip of large evergreen forest cuts through Texas North to South from around Longview to Smithville (where Hope Floats was filmed).

We miss you Melissa…

And babies grow up fast…

So once upon a time we thought we were brilliant that we hung on to some Dell stock options for a couple of years and were able to buy this $2500 boat with the proceeds. A friend from Dell sat on the same ones for several more years and ended up buying a $200k boat with the same proceeds. We sold ours for $2500 years later. Wonder what he got for his?

Feeling cool cause he’s got a white steering wheel.

Hot and sexy. Greg loves this goofy woman more and more everyday.

Jeff. Where are you? Jeff?

So we finally moved out of crack alley into this house by the lake in Lago Vista (near Austin). For some reason, we thought a flowery design carpet was just right for us.

That’s our nephews / cousins Trey and Dusty from Houston. They were pretty disappointed that our ‘lake house’ was actually on a hill and not on the water… We took ’em to the lake in our boat anyway. Great times.

Austin started public school in Lago Vista. The school was only like a mile away but the bus picked him up anyway. This was really a great community.

Where we got a lot of sun. There’s the kickin’ Bronco that we like so much.

And that really cool purple blanket from Ireland that we still have, somewhere.

Another great business vacation on Dell was in San Jose where we checked in to the hotel and actually saved Dell money by opting for the Great America weekend package where we got five free weekend passes to the theme park (like Six Flags). Greg was responsible for Dell Inspiron DVD software and we were trying to be first to market with DVD on a portable, it broke late on the Friday before it was to ship on Monday so Dell needed Greg on a plane Friday night to San Jose to fix the problem over the weekend. We agreed to go only if Dell would send the entire Family ~ we ended up negotiating a bonus to pay for it. Dell was first to market with DVD on a portable and we had a blast in San Jose playing at Great America, visiting the Winchester Mansion, and getting car-sick driving fast up a windy mountain to see an observatory before our plane left that afternoon ~ we missed the plane, puked heavily, and stayed another day.

That’s a view from the road of our Lago house. It sat on about an acre among several oak trees and had a great view of the hill country and lake out back. There was a huge porch that wrapped around half the house and a giant garage that could hold like four cars. The thunderstorms out here were great, for the six months we lived there…

Before Dell relocated us to Washington state for an opportunity we did NOT wanna pass up.

See what we mean about Granddad’s eyebrows? What’s up with that ~ maybe we should get him to remove his glasses for pictures. We’ll try that next time.

That’s James, kid, and Steve hanging out with us during our last days in Lago.

And Misty, James’ wife. Misty gave us our first tickets to BNL ever. Misty worked in a club and her friends dad was working security for HORD Fest and gave her tickets and she took us with her knowing that Jenn had started loving the BareNaked Ladies. Mmmmmm. We also saw Blues Traveler and some other great bands. The best part was the mud and watching Ed Robertson get stuck in a Mustang and pulled out by some cowboy that had no idea Ed was a Rock Star. Great times.

We took a trip to San Antonio before moving to Washington and visited their world class zoo.

One of the last days these kids lived in Texas full time. So are they Texans? Greg wasn’t born in Texas but he got there as fast as he could. Somewhere a village is missing its idiot.

Adios Melissa. See you soon.

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