Category Archives: Texas

The 2nd largest populated state in the United States with a population of just over 26,448,193 according to the 2013 census, Texas is the 2nd largest land mass state of the U.S.A., but the largest in the 48 contiguous states (when leaving out Alaska – the largest). It is located in the south central portion of the United States.
It borders the country of Mexico to the south most notably the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. To its west is New Mexico, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the Northeast, with Louisiana in the east. TX has an area of 268,820 square miles.

Super 8

Super 8 Motels
~ Worldwide ~

I’ve spent many nights at the Super 8 – some locations are amazing, others can be seedy. It depends on the city and the manager, neighborhood, and environment. They are one of the world’s largest budget hotel chains – with motels throughout the United States, Canada, and China. They are part of the Wyndham Worldwide chain. The chain was started by Dennis Brown in 1972 alongside his partner Ron Rivett in 1973. They started renting rooms for $8.88/night which gave name to “Super 8”. The first motel was in Aberdeen South Dakota, hosting 60 rooms in 1974. It had a stucco exterior with an English Tudor style inspired by Rivett’s father-in-law who did stucco construction for a living, the remaining architecture was created by Rivett. Through the years they kept the English Tudor style as well as locating themselves near Holiday Inn’s as a marketing strategy. The first franchise was sold in 1976 in Gillette, Wyoming. They broke out of the Midwest in 1978 opening up in New York and Washington State. In 1976 they created a VIP club program which was later purchased by Hospitality Franchise Systems, then Cendant in 1993. This was dissolved in 2003 and replaced by TripRewards converting to Wyndham Rewards in 2008. By 2014 they had over 2,390 hotels. They opened their first hotel in China during 2004 in Beijing. They offer their guests standard amenities including free WiFi, a continental breakfast, hair dryers, coffee makers, laundry, and a lobby. Some locations have pools and meeting rooms, while some of the larger Super 8’s have restaurants.

Locations I’ve visited:

  • Lincoln City, Oregon: 3517 N, US-101, Lincoln City, OR 97367; (541) 996-9900. Rating: 4 stars out of 5. This location has a fabulous tourism placement across from a public beach. Its a rather small building and hotel with few rooms. Its less than a mile from the Chinook Winds casino. They have mini-fridges and microwaves in the room, coin laundry, free coffee, truck parking, and a small conference room. Its located along Highway 101.

Rated: 4 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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In-N-Out Burgers

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In-N-Out Burgers

I was first introduced to In-and-Out when I was living in Los Angeles as a paid audience member and extra for Hollywood, needing fast food, “in” and “out”. I was introduced to their un-advertised attraction, the leaf wraps. Those were back in the days when I had no problems with fast food or the health consequences of having that kind of diet. I have since made motions to thin out (and someday totally eliminate) fast food from my diet. Me and my wife are on the gluten-free path, so the idea of a leaf wrap sandwich when there was no other open food options sounded perhaps ‘healthier’ than some of the alternatives. While ditching the gluten by skipping the bun, it still was a mild option to the the extremes that is fast food. Traveling through the American Southwest we were curious to give it a gander. Personally in terms of fast food, its not much different than the others, though the quality outside of the lettuce was good tasting but same as most fast food. We were surprised they didn’t advertise the lettuce wrap option on their menu and that its more a “word-of-mouth” item, especially since its an element that makes them stick out from the others. The In-N-Out Burger chain is regional, with locations throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas. It was founded by Harry and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park, California in 1948. Their grandchild Lynsi Torres currently runs the operation. It is not franchised nor public, and has distribution centers in California; Phoenix, Arizona; Draper, Utah; and Dallas, Texas. They have not changed this practice in order to maintain quality and customer consistency. They are one of the few fast food chains in the U.S. to pay their employees higher than the state and federal mandated minimum wage guidelines. They offer three burger varieties – hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and the “Double-Double” (their trademarked double meat, double cheese). They also sell french fries, milkshakes (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry), and typical fountain drinks. Burgers come with lettuce, tomato, optional onions, and their special sauce (like McDonald’s, a variant of thousand islands dressing). They do however have a secret menu available at most In-N-Outs. These can be found on their web site. These include a 3×3 (three patties, three slices of cheese), a 4×4 (four patties and four slices of cheese), 20×20, Neapolitan shakes, grilled cheese sandwich (no meat, two slices of melted cheese), Protein style (wrapped in lettuce – all ingredients of a burger just no buns), and Animal style (animal style: burger cooked in thin layer of mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, and extra spread – hot peppers option. Animal fries come with two slices of melted cheese, spread, and grilled onions on top). Their decor is red, white, and yellow branding – white building exterior and uniforms, red for the roof and aprons/hats, yellow for the roof’s decorative band and iconic zig-zag in the logo. They also plant palm trees often to form an “X” in front of the restaurants. One problem with In-N-Out is its secret proselytizing of Christianity. They print discreet references to Bible verses on their paper containers such as the Double-Double burger wrapper and the drink cup. These consist of the book, chapter, and number of the verse not the actual text of the passage. This came into play during the 1980’s when Rich Snyder was president, as a reflection of the Christian beliefs he held. Because of their fundamentalist Christian practices and the fact that the food is not healthy (not company specific – fast food overall), I will no longer frequent this company. For those of you desiring junk food and not minding the Christian fundamentalism, enjoy your GMO beef. Rating: 2 stars out of 5.

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Tungsten Coil, Austin, Texas

 


Tungsten Coil * Austin, Texas

Tungsten Coil Live at the Elysium 4/27/2007, Austin, Texas
myspace.com/tungstencoil
Rock * Electronica * Trance. Visiting this fabulous fusion of industrial, synthcore rock and dance rhythms at the dark nightclub “Elysium” in Austin was awesome. Riviting and spectacular soundscape – this band aims to please. Tungsten Coil was formed in the late 90’s and have released their CD “Reactive” blending rivet with industrial. In 2005 they took on their current sound enchanting an even bigger audience. Evening of 4/27/07 at the Elysium was a spectacular night thanks to these folk. 4 stars out of 5. Continue reading Tungsten Coil, Austin, Texas

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Subnatural, Austin, Texas

 


Sub Natural * Austin, Texas

Sub Natural Live at Elysium, Austin, Texas
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=2122100. Industrial/Rock/Metal. A smashing neurotic blend of dark rock, intricate metal, and pounding beats – SubNatural took over the Elysium on friday April 27, 2007 as they opened for Tungsten Coil. I’m not much of a metal fan, but it was an enjoyable show. Frontman Ritch N is lead with great lyrics and musical talent; Guitarist Stephen Vanpelt and Bassist Nick Grubbs make the action happen, and percussionist Riggz Wade gives the bands sound just what it needs. Blended together with the great venue of Elysium, it was a pretty good show. 3 stars out of 5. Continue reading Subnatural, Austin, Texas

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Bats under the Bridge, Austin, Texas

Congress Bridge * Town Lake – Austin, Texas

Bats under the Congress Bridge Austin’s Town Lake, Austin, Texas http://www.austincityguide.com/content/congress-bridge-bats-austin.asp
Home of the famous and largest bat colony bridge located in the heart of Austin Texas. The Congress Avenue Bridge spans Town Lake in downtown Austin and is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. The colony is estimated at 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats. Every night beginning in mid-March to roughly November, the bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk to blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food. This is one of Austin’s as well as Texas’ most spectacular tourist attractions. The best time to view them are during the hot dry August nights when columns of bats emerge. When I visited 4/27/07 is was more like a swarm of mosquitos (bats) around a bloody arm (the bridge). 4 stars out of 5.

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Omni Hotel, Austin, Texas

The Omni Hotel * 700 San Jacinto at 8th Street * Austin, Texas 78701 * Phone: (512) 476-3700, Fax: (512) 397-4888 * Omni Downtown homepage An elegant riche hotel in the heart of downtown Austin in the famous Omniplex building. Within walking distance from the convention center, 6th street, Red River, and Austin’s famous nighttime activities. The staff was friendly and eager to please. But the hotel is definitely centered around those with money. They force a concessions deposit with the room in case you get late night munchies out of the bar-fridge in the room: tiny jar of cashews for $6.50, $4 for a small bag of potato chips, $2.50 for a snickers bar. Lets not even approach the cost to the liquor or room service. They are certainly out for your money in elegance of course! Extra costs for everything – you get more bang for your buck at the Holiday Inn. No free breakfast even though you’re paying in excess of $120/night. There is a gym, swimming pool, and hot tub on the roof. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

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Salsarita’s Fresh Catina, Austin, Texas


Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina 504B Trinity St. Austin, TX 78701 * (512) 436-2739 tel

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina 504B Trinity St. Austin, TX 78701 * (512) 436-2739 tel
A relatively new Tex-Mex Chipotle’s-like fresh, organic, and healthy alternative cafeteria near 6th street in downtown Austin. Selections from tacos, large burritos, Fajitas, and salads are available … with options even for grilled shrimp and getting a ‘wet’ burrito. Mmmm mmmm good. Free wireless for computer geeks too. 4 stars out of 5.

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Sushi Geisha, Austin, Texas

Sushi Geisha * http://www.sushigeisha.com/ 616 East 6th st, Austin, Texas 78701 * 512.480.2211 *

A fabulous sushi dive bar with an artistic grunge slant. Friendly staff and to-die-for sushi. The walls have incredible grafitti that is artistically entertaining. M-F from 5-7 they have $1 for 1 piece nigiri sushi. Mmmm ….. good. I’ll definitely visit this spot anytime I’m on 6th street. Delicious. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.  

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Papparazzi Pizza, Austin, Texas

Papparazzi Pizza * 607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, 78701 – (512) 391-9997


Papparazzi Pizza * Austin, Texas
  Brand new little affordable pizza joint off of San Jacinto. When I dropped in, they still didn’t have their fountain drinks setup or stocked – so I assume they are very new. 2 slices and a drink for $5 wasn’t too bad of a deal, though the pizza wasn’t that great – but it did the trick for what i needed to get by through the conference i was attending.

 

Because they are brand new, I’d still try to give them a shot in a month or two, who know’s they might improve. But for my current visit: 2 stars out of 5.

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Homewood Suites, Austin, Texas

Homewood Suites Austin Airport
4143 Governors Row, Austin, Texas 78744 * 1-512-445-5050
A very elegant, very home-style hotel near the Austin airport. Free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel with a friendly staff and incredible service. The rooms, while pricey (Government rate is roughly $100/night) are spacious, full self-serviced with living rooms and kitchenettes – pretty much your own little apartment. Refridgerators, stoves, dishwasher, pots, pans, dishware, and everything you need to cook in. Even free popcorn! Bedroom with king size bed, free wireless internet, cable, HBO, pay-per-view, pay games, etc. The front desk was very supportive and had a little convenience store behind it based on the honor system. Free (good spread) continental breakfast with french toast, pour your own waffles, scrambled eggs, rolls, croissants, cereal, yogurt, tea, coffee, juices, etc. I’d definitely stay here again if it wasn’t out of the price range that I’m willing to pay for a room. Rating 5 stars out of 5.

 
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Elysium, Austin, Texas

Elysium * Austin’s Dark Side * 705 Red River Street, Austin, Texas * 512.478.2979 * Elysiumonline.net.

Austin’s premiere Goth and Industrial club with offerings almost every night. Tuesdays are Sappho’s Isle (lesbian night), Wednesdays is Midwave (underground 80s retro and old school goth), Thursdays & Fridays (live bands and music), Saturdays are Haven – synthpop, eurodance, goth, and industrial; and Sundays are Regression – retro 80s. Austin Chronicle in 2003-2006 voted the venue as Austin’s best dance club. Great dance floor, large stage, pool tables, long smoking patio opening out to Red River street, two bars, and excellent staff with great drink prices (boasting best priced in the city). My visit on wednesday’s Midwave found free cover, strong drinks for affordable prices, intriguing special drinks they are known for, and an incredible staff, DJ, music, and experience. Patrons were all happy and dancing – it was a blast. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

   
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