Road trip!

Summers in Texas are miserable.  The first time we visited Austin two years ago, it was May, and it was hot.  It was in the 90s, and it was humid.  “It never gets humid here.  This is very unusual.”  Oh, that’s good to hear.  “It’s also not normally this hot.  May is usually beautiful here.  This is a weird year.”  Whew!  Okay, if you promise that this isn’t normal, then sign us up.

Fast forward to May 2009.  By that time, we lived in Austin, and again, it was in the 90s in May — and then it got much, much worse.  The temperature hit 100 shortly into May, and the heat was just getting started.  By the time summer ended (in November), there had been 67 days over 100 degrees — and I’m not talking 101.  I’m talking 113.  “This is a complete fluke,” people told us.  “It’s never this hot here.”  It didn’t matter.  We were done with Texas summers.  (For the record, it didn’t reach 100 degrees in May this year — but it was in the upper 90s several times.  “This is unusual,” people said once again.  I don’t think so.  It’s not a fluke, it’s a climate.  I am too much of a wuss for a climate that hot.)

I’m fine with cold; I’ll just add more layers.  I’m not fine with hot.  Unless I’m exercising, I shouldn’t be sweating.  I have bangs, for chrissake.  Sweaty bangs are not a good look, people.  So we decided (not just because of my bangs, mind you) that we were too weak to spend another summer in Texas.  We either had to move, or at the very least, we had to make northern summer plans.  (We should have figured this out earlier, when we realized that none of our friends in Austin were anywhere to be seen between June 1 and September 1.)  Our summer 2010 destination: New York City, where we’d lived for 10 years.  Sure, it gets hot and muggy there, but I’ll take 90 degrees over 115 any day.

Last Thursday, we packed up the car in Austin.  I took the camera out to the garage to get a shot, and this is what I got.  Was it foggy?  No.  It was just humid — and 96 degrees.  That “fog” in the picture is on the lens of the camera.

Why the hell were we driving instead of flying? Largely because we were bringing a large amount of stuff. (We’re spending nearly two months out of town.) Also, though, we didn’t want to deal with the headache of flying with Loki. The cat is a screamer — even when he isn’t pissed off. The constant screaming on the flight, after trying to get him through security (where you have to remove him from his carrier), all while also dealing with bags — it seemed like too much. It would be stressful for everybody involved, and we figure Loki wouldn’t like flying — and we pretty much do whatever the cat wants.  Plus, road trips are kinda fun (at least for the first 100 miles). Flying is not fun.

Loki seemed to know it was time for a trip.  While I loaded the car, he got comfy in his carrier.

The first 30 minutes in the car with Loki is… loud.  There’s a lot of him climbing all over the place, screaming, “LOOK AT ME. I’M IN A CAR. THIS IS A CAR. WE ARE IN THE CAR. LOOK AT ME.”

But eventually, he calms down.

And before long, he’s almost too comfortable.

This shot kind of captures everything you need to know — the outside temperature that we were fleeing, and the shocking amount of fur that a small cat can shed in a very short time.

Speaking of Tennessee — AEJ is from Memphis, and her mother still lives there. Ya know what else is in Memphis? Completely awesome barbecue. Namely, Corky’s. I’ve tried three types of BBQ — Texas BBQ (which is primarily beef, most often brisket), Memphis BBQ (pork-based, preferably saucy rather than dry-rubbed), and Carolina BBQ (with a vinegar-based sauce). They’re all great, but my favorite is Memphis BBQ — and my favorite of that variety is the pulled pork at Corky’s.  So off to Corky’s we went.  What better way to start than with an onion loaf — with some crazy-good BBQ-based dipping sauce?

Whenever I go to Corky’s, I get the pulled pork dinner plate. It comes with these amazing, buttery (and salty) rolls.

But the pork. Oh man, the pork. So, so good. And these are the best baked beans I’ve ever had. If your beans don’t have bacon in them, they’re not real baked beans.

Corky’s also has some very tasty banana pudding. It was good, but not the highlight of the meal. (I’ve had better banana pudding in Waco, of all places.) Still, yummy (although next time, I’ll get the pecan pie).

The next morning, we were back on the road. You see all sorts of fun billboards driving through the south.

I love this combination: an exit with absolutely no attractions (at least they’re honest), next to a billboard for a firework store that offers fireworks on DVD. What’s more exciting than that?

After more than three solid days of driving, we made it to NYC. Loki was initially a little mental…

… but has since calmed down.

Our place is great (more on that in a future entry), and we love this neighborhood — Chelsea.  On our first night, we thought we’d go out for Thai food.  We walked two blocks to a place that I used to love when I lived in NY, but they had the whole restaurant front opened up to the street, and it was a little warm to eat without air conditioning, so we kept walking.  Two blocks later, we found a different Thai restaurant — and it was delicious.  I love a neighborhood where I can find a different Thai restaurant literally every two blocks.

It’s going to be a good seven weeks. We have reservations at some incredible restaurants, and I guarantee there will be a lot of pictures. First up: dinner tomorrow night at wd-50, Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant on the Lower East Side.  Tasty treats (and molecular gastronomy) ahead!

You wait here, Loki.


Linda says

I completely understand the hot weather and bangs issue. It is one of the worst feelings in the world when my bangs stick to my forehead. I live in Florida, so the humidity is TERRIBLE here right now.


Linda, I'm considering getting my bangs cut off for the summer. Even though it's cooler here in NY, it's still hot -- and you really have no choice but to spend time outside, getting from place to place. I don't know how Justin Bieber does it.

Andrew Hackard says

I'm in Hilton Head right now, and it's humid in a way Austin NEVER gets. OMG. Actually looking forward to being back in Texas.

(And in a little over a month, I'll be in NYC for a long weekend. Where should I go?)

Austin says

Arizona heat is like Texas heat, but hotter and dryer. It's not for the faint of heart, or most humans. It's usually 100 by 8 am, but the crazy thing is the hotter it gets, the more people go outside.

Meredith says

I'm so jealous! It's been STUPID hot in DFW this week; the heat index has easily been above 100 every day.

Also, I have to say, I love your translation of Loki's yowls in the car. And the picture of Loki yowling in the car. And Loki in general.

Will you be back in TX in time for TBA?

Kevin Howlett says

Pecan pie?

RK says

john, I lice in Florida for Christs sake. in may it was in the 100s, and now it easily gets up to 110 by noon. not to mention the humidity. 110 with the humidity gives us a heat index of nearly 120 degrees!! that's like a friggin oven!

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