Travaasa 2.0, or: How we learned that chickens can fly.

14 Aug

travaasamainWell hello, dear readers! It’s been a while since Zack and I took the time to update you on our lives — I like to think this is because we’ve been out there living them, enjoying the summer sun, swimming and playing cards* and drinking rum drinks to our heart’s content. It’s probably also in small part due to laziness**, but let’s not dwell on all of that. We’re here today to talk about our return to Travaasa, our favorite hill country resort & spa. Zack treated me to a trip there last year for our 5 year meeting anniversary, and we completely fell in love with the gorgeous scenery and mellow vibes. So, when Zack spotted a coupon for 50% off our stay with vouchers towards meals and spa included, we jumped at the chance to return to our staycation oasis.

*Our friends Lisa and Eric got us into Monopoly Deal and we’re addicted. We’ve loved playing while having a rum drink and listening to African Jazz or while watching the Olympics and American Ninja Warrior.

**I’ve been lazier. Caitlin got super into boxing this summer while I got into poker and less triathlon training in the 100 degree heat. It’s been a relaxing summer, but an enjoyable one.

In order to use our discounted stay, we had to book a night at Travaasa during the week. I took the opportunity to take Friday off of work, and so Thursday evening Zack and I trekked to Whole Foods to gather a smorgasbord of cheeses, breads*, sparkling red wine** and fruit that we munched on throughout the evening in bed while watching the Olympics. It was paradise, heaven, nirvana – perfection. We had ambitions to go swimming on that first night***, but once I had half a bottle of wine in me, I was glued to the comfy bed and drifted to sleep quickly.

*Caitlin picked out this melt-in-your-mouth brioche that was so tasty it didn’t even need cheese.

**We’re forever chasing the sparkling red wine we had in Venice and we were pretty close on this one.

***We’d also hoped to catch a glimpse of the meteor shower, but even out of downtown, we couldn’t see much and were content from our picnic and bed and a night full of watching U.S.A. take gold after gold in swimming and gymnastics.

breakfastOn Friday, we woke up in a leisurely fashion, slowly picking ourselves up and getting ready to go have breakfast at the Preserve Bar + Kitchen onsite. We sat outside, which was a brilliant choice — since we were the first two people at the restaurant for breakfast, we got the best seats in the house, with a sweeping view of Lake Austin and tons of hills, valleys and trees. I opted for buttermilk pancakes with a little granola and fresh strawberries on top, and a side of sweet potato hash. Zack went for the french toast* with a side of bacon. We both had delicious and uber-fresh smoothies, which helped wake us up before our “adventure” — a trip to the Travaasa farm to learn about how to grow our own fruits and vegetables.

*Caitlin won the best breakfast order, with her pancakes outclassing my french toast, but the bacon was just the way I like it and she shared her large plate of pancakes with me.

drinksWe ended up getting a private tour, since only Zack and I opted for the farm trip*, and that was just fine by us. We bonded closely with our guide, whose husband apparently installs edible gardens in East Austin, so we’ll be in touch once we finally have a house! After we drove down to the farm, we wandered into the greenhouse where seedlings were being carefully harvested until they were ready for transplant into the ground. We learned about best watering practices, and the fruits and veggies that are easiest to manage in the heat of Texas (kale**!, carrots, radishes, squash, tomatoes, okra and basil) and the different options for bed-making (not the sleeping variety, but the kind where the plants live). I tried to pay close attention, but I’m sure after a year or two passes when we finally get a house, I’ll need a refresher***.

*So many of the activities sounded cool, but we ended up checking out the garden/farm by process of elimination and it ended up being perfect for us.

**Once Caitlin found out you could grow kale pretty easily in Austin, it was a game changer. She went from being excited to not have to buy it twice a week to saying, “We could live forever if we can grow our own kale.”

***Oh yeah, we’ll need help getting started, but it feels good to be excited about gardening in our future house.

As we made our way out into the field, we were distracted by a pen full of 3-week old chicks. Nearby was a noisy hen- and rooster-house, but the little chicklets were hanging out by themselves in a movable pen. When we approached, they all crowded together near the crate wire to take a peek and see what we were all about. As soon as our guide opened the top and reached in to scoop up a chick, though, they all went running in every direction to avoid being snagged. Still, our guide was able to carefully scoop up a chick, which she handed to me. It was so soft, small, curious and wiggly — I fell instantly in love. I pet the chick for a while, but then as I went to put her back in her pen, she got excited and ready to be away from me and flew out of my hands and into the pen. I was horrified at first, afraid that I’d dropped her and she’d be hurt, but our guide laughed and said she was fine and that her wingspan was impressive.

Below is the four part series of Caitlin holding the chick lovingly for three pics and then looking terrified as it starts to fly away:

chicken collage Then she handed a little guy to Zack, and Zack cupped the chick in his hand. He was supposed to let the chick’s legs dangle free and cup a hand over the chick’s back, but he forgot and so in an attempt to demonstrate, I put my hand over the back of the wiggly chick, but then let go so Zack could get a handle on him. Instead, the chick leapt into the air and onto the top of the pen — and proceeded to slide down the tin roof siding of the pen, like it was a real slide. It was HILARIOUS* to watch (once we knew the chick would safely make it to the ground). I was able to scoop the chick back up and get him back into the pen, where he tried to run and hide in the crowd but was visible because all the chicks were chirping at him, surely asking questions about his big adventure.

*It was surreal to watch that chicken sliding down the roof of that pen. It was the perfect escape and the chicken seemed as surprised about it as we were. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be worried for it until our guide was doubled over with laughter.

Once we’d gotten our fill of the chicks, we headed out to the main field and used some kind of rake thing (it wasn’t a tiller but I forget what exactly it was called) and moved around some earth. Then we got to walk through rows of veggies and taste some fresh okra, shallot and cherry tomato*. It was super yummy, and just a generally enjoyable way to start the day.

*Fresh fruit and veggies from the garden just tastes better.

We had to rush back to the room after that trip and grab all of our things so that Zack could check us out of the room and I could go to my spa treatment. I booked an hour-long Swedish massage, and as usual, Travaasa did not disappoint. I am convinced they have the best masseuses in all of Austin (maybe of anywhere?) I got a deep tissue massage and nearly fell asleep a few times in the calming environment — there was yoga-appropriate music playing, and my mind drifted from place to place. While Caitlin enjoyed her massage, I swam in the pool, listening to the ladies talk about getting “cupping” treatment as they compared themselves to Michael Phelps a few times. My big accomplishment was swimming from one end to the other underwater without coming up to breathe.

travswim

After the massage, I threw on my bathing suit and joined Zack in the infinity pool. We mostly just hung out on the edge of the pool, looking out onto the gorgeous lake view, but we also shared a DELICIOUS frozen pina colada* and played a game of, “On a scale of 1-10, how interested are you in visiting x country**?”‘

*It was called a lava flow and was a delightful pool drink.

*This is a good game for thinking about future vacations. We both had a few countries in the 9 or 10 range, like Iceland, New Zealand, Japan and Spain. I’m more interested in Thailand and Israel than Caitlin and neither of us are too keen on visiting India or China. 

I left the pool first so I could shower and put some makeup on, and then I joined Zack and we headed off to a nearby winery. The winery we chose is actually on the property of the Oasis restaurant, and it was super dead at 2PM on a Friday. We were the only two tasters in the room, and our bartender took great care of us. We ended up purchasing two bottles of sweet wine — one that tastes kind of like a pina colada* (tropical and refreshing, with a hint of coconut) and another that was peach-flavored and candy-like. We watched some Olympics, shared some laughs, bought our bottles and went on our way.

*I believe it was called Texas lime and it was quite refreshing. Glad to have half a bottle of this left.

There is no more decadent feeling in this world than to spend a day at a spa on what is normally a work day. Travaasa treated us SO right, once again, and is quickly becoming our favorite fancy special date rendezvous spot.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to get away from it all for a night until we did it. It felt so relaxing and was a great way to bond with Caitlin in a lovely stay-cation before we head out of town the next two weekends.

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