I’d looked forward to my nephew’s cooking since he’s a vegetarian. He first made boiled Brussel sprouts and broccoli, seasoned with salt, pepper and a pat of butter. That was delicious, but his baked chickpeas was the truly exciting dish, seasoned with a fresh ground dry spice mix.He brushed the canned chickpeas with olive oil.Baked them for nearly an hour.Then coated them with the spices he ground by hand. Saturday morning, we hiked the Slaughter Creek Trail, which was one big, level circle, dotted with informative placards along the way.There wasn’t much tree cover along most of the way, but we enjoyed the little shade we had.We were the only ones hiking; so we got this picture, thanks to some people who had taken a break from biking along the trail in the opposite direction of those of us who’d chosen to walk.Once we regrouped at home, I took CJ to the Carver Museum to see the outdoor Emancipation installation and the permanent indoor Juneteenth installation.On another fine afternoon, we went to Zilker Park, so he could do some parkour exercises on the rock.He did a little bit, but not too much to justify another shower since we’d already done Bikram yoga.We took a mini tour of Austin proper, which included posing with one of the most famous graffiti in the city. We’d patiently waited for a turn until the group who were next didn’t have their act together. I pushed CJ into position to take our own pictures instead.Next stop: my favorite costume shop. Even CJ had to admit that he’d never seen such a spectacular display of costumes and accessories all under one roof. Then we visited Graffiti Park, which was far more overrun with plants than the last time I’d visited earlier this year. I let him explore a little on his own since he wore closed-toed shoes, and I had on sandals.When we visited the State Capitol, I asked him to stand in front of Miriam Ferguson’s portrait. Not merely controversial because she was the first female Texas governor, but also her husband, a former Texas governor himself, was no longer eligible to run again due to his illegal activities. His political enemies feared she was his proxy.My big treat was seeing the African American Emancipation Memorial. I’m not sure if the memorial stood on a spot where a confederate statue once stood, but I loved seeing it in front of the state capitol, which was built by slave labor. After Bikram class, we ate at one of my favorite retox restaurants next door.Next on the daily workout list: capoeira! I made sure in advance that my “cousin” taught that night. He took us through one of his famous, grueling warm ups before we ever got to the actual capoeira training part. Gave me a beautiful reminder of why I stayed in such terrific shape when I was training. (I need to pick up my personal work out game when I’m in the fitness room.)Even though CJ didn’t get a chance to spar, at least he had an opportunity to do kick and dodge drills with someone much faster than his aunt.For our last dinner together in Austin, we ate at a nearby vegan restaurant. Neither one of us were adventurous enough to sample the vegan cheese plate. He’d tried some distasteful vegan cheese in the past and I heeded his caution. For dessert, we shared a buttermylk pie with raspberry sauce. Now, when I say “shared,” I mean he grudgingly took one bite at my insistence and I ate the rest. Afterwards, we took an evening stroll along the Lady Bird Lake trail, starting at the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue.
We smelled Congress Street bridge a few feet before we got to it. Silly me thought a 16-year old boy would find the largest urban colony of bats in North America cool. Ha! As soon as he told me that he’s seen lots of bats before in Batman movies, I ridiculed him for nearly the rest of the trip over his lack of enthusiasm, regarding 1.3 million Mexican free tailed bats.
He told me that one day, I’d realize that he’s cool. I responded, “Yes, because in a few years, you’ll actually BE cool.” Hopefully, our brief time together on this visit, with all of our wonderful one-on-one conversations, added to that!