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Report 1789: Spring Break in Central Texas

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Spring 2010

Trip Description: A family visit by five of us including Doug & Liz Phillips, two of our adult children, Kelly Condron & Brad Phillips, and our 22-month old grandson Liam Condron to Cedar Park Texas, a neighbouring community of Austin, to re-connect with Doug's sister Janet and most of her family, including husband Dave and four of their five children.

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - Texas

Categories: Family/Friends; Day Tours; Shopping; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; Adults and Young Children

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Page 1 of 7: Introduction, Planning and Arrival

photo by Doug Phillips

A young Slow Traveller on his way to Texas

Final Jeopardy Category: Presidents of the United States.

Answer: These two people are the only native-born Texans to become President of the United States. __________________________

Over the past seven years my sister and her family have lived in Burlington Ontario, St. John's Newfoundland, Edmonton Alberta and, for the past year-and-a-half in Cedar Park Texas. We had visited my sister in Burlington and St. John's, but never made it out to Edmonton. We were determined to get to Texas sooner, rather than later. Our daughter Kelly is a teacher and the mother of our first grandchild - 22-month-old Liam. We wanted to include them since it would be an opportunity for our Texas connection to meet the newest member of their extended family. So we decided to go during her March Break (Spring Break to Americans). Brad, our younger son, was also able to join us. So our happy band consisted of five, one of whom flew gratis

We decided to leave on Saturday March 13 and return on Friday March 19 - not a long time, but OK for a first visit and constrained by work commitments of our son and daughter. Plus we didn't want to wear out our welcome with my sister and her family. I booked our flights on Travelocity, flying from Syracuse to Chicago O'Hare, then from O'Hare on to Austin. We had to cross the border from our home in Eastern Ontario to catch the early morning flight from Syracuse. If it was just adults, we likely would have driven to Syracuse very early Saturday morning to catch the 7:30am flight, but with our grandson we booked two rooms at a hotel near the airport. On arrival we discovered that parking for our time away might be a problem - no room in the compound at the hotel; the outside lot at the airport was full. We were concerned that there might not be any parking available when we drove over to the airport. On the recommendation of a hotel employee, we used a valet parking service provided by Americar, an auto leasing company very close to the hotel. Excellent service! We would use them again in a similar situation.

Here's what happened:

Our United flights went smoothly. We had a four-hour layover in Chicago - longer than my original booking, but United changed all our flights a couple of months before we left. We arrived in Austin around 4:45pm, noticed a lot of signs for SXSW (South by Southwest) - a music/film conference/festival. Originally I had rented a Chevy Impala, but upgraded to a Traverse Crossover SUV. I'm not much of a car nut - this would be about the least likely type of vehicle for me to own, but the extra room came in handy during the week. Besides, we fit right in with all the trucks and other SUV's wherever we went.

Janet (sister), Dave (brother-in-law) and two of their five children met us at the airport and we followed them around/through Austin to their home in Cedar Park. They have a large home complete with three-car garage, media room, pool and hot tub. As a Canadian it seems like an upside-down house. No basement, and the furnace is in the attic. Of course it makes perfect sense for Texas. We took over three of the bedrooms in the house, with nary a peep from the kids. Four of the children are living at home; their oldest daughter remained behind in Edmonton where she is enrolled at the University of Alberta.

Next: A Sunday driving tour

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