Following a unplanned middle of the night drive from New Orleans to Austin, the PapiBlogger Family used its fourth full day of the 40-day family road trip to rest its wheels. Well, sort of.
The day started with a impromptu visit to the pediatrician for one-year-old Briani because we wanted to check on a persistent cough she developed (she’s fine) and some World Cup rooting for the U.S. in their victory over Algeria.
Washers Tossing at Freddie’s Restaurant
With barely three hours sleep for Angela and me and Briani back from the doctor, we headed over to Freddie’s, a classic outdoors Austin restaurant that is family friendly, offers good American and Tex Mex-style food and more important for us has a nice area to play the ranch game known as washers.
Basically, washers is a simple but very competitive game that entails throwing a 2 x 2 inch steel washer inside a hole on the ground from a distance of about 21 feet. You get points for throwing the washers in the hole or landing them close to the hole. Many Texans take washers tossing seriously and even Freddie’s features a weekly tournament every Wednesday.
If you haven’t played washers, trust me it’s fun. The first time Jonathan came to Austin we went to Freddie’s and – can you believe it? – he made his first toss right in the hole. Ever since, whenever we bring the kids to Austin (it’s our second home) we make an obligatory stop at Freddie’s to play washers and dine (in that order).
Cooling off at Barton Springs
The second and most important highlight of the day was cooling off from the 95F degree weather at the city’s popular Barton Springs. Barton Springs is is a man-made recreational swimming pool located on the grounds of Zilker Park in Austin. The pool exists in the channel of Barton Creek and is filled by water from Main Barton Spring, the fourth largest spring in Texas.
Besides its scenic beauty what really stands out for me about Barton Springs is how cool the water remains EVEN in the middle of scorching weather. The pool maintains a narrow range from about 68.0 °F (20.0 °C) in the winter to about 71.6 °F (22.0 °C) in the summer. When you go, be sure you let yourself feel very hot (a PapiBlogger trick) because if you go into the water even slightly cooled off you will instantly freeze. The heat definitely will help you once you’re in but trust me when I tell you that Barton Springs is cold.
During our visit to Barton Springs we also had our first real water test of the FUJIFILM FinePix XP 10 (retails for $199), an all-purpose camera that the company furnished us to test with the family in different weather conditions. FUJIFILM says the camera can withstand water up to 10 feet, a fall to the ground of up to three feet, cold weather and sand. The fun part of having a camera like this is that it’s worry free because you can use it or give it to your kids without any care they will mess it up. Jonathan and Elena gave the camera plenty of action at Barton Springs with some of the photos you see here. The FinePix XP 10 also proved equally strong for underwater video, something which far surpassed my expectation and makes for interesting underwater audio. With this camera, which I will be reviewing shortly, you never have to buy another disposable underwater camera again!
Family Road Trip Tip of the Day (Sponsored by Sprint Nextel)
No matter how aggressive a traveler you are (and believe me, we are), you need to schedule days to slow down. Last year when we did the ultimate Costa Rica adventure vacation with my wife and kids I got partially offended at first that my wife secured for us to have semi-restful days and that we go with a tour guide to drive us. Regardless of whether your kids are older or not, create down time for the trip every three or four days. You will feel more rested and will have less odds of getting sick from the stress of always being on the go.