I’m flying home right now from an incredible weekend spent in
with our best friends Adam and Amber-Rose Zimel and their five great kids. Brace yourself for a pretty long entry - this is a long flight and I have some time to kill. Austin, Texas
Many moons ago (more than 10 years ago now), the Zimels and we were all living around
and we were introduced through
mutual friends. The Zimels
were similar to us in that they they were young parents with a baby boy who were trying to
balance many different obligations – work, school, family, etc. Portland
To say the least, much has happened since our initial introduction. Our friendship with the Zimels deepened when we were all living in
and we would see each other multiple
times per week. Adam and I started a men’s group together (which would
ultimately form the group of guys who participate in our annual “Guys’Weekend"), and Missi and Amber-Rose would meet frequently. We ate together, played together, vacationed together, figured out how to parent together, and worked on home improvement projects together. Portland
Our friendship grew and deepened, so you can imagine how devastated we were when they packed up their RV – literally – and headed out for
. They made it to Florida Jacksonville
Beach, Florida, but decided that
they enjoyed Austin, Texas
more, so they turned back around and settled in . Austin
Although we live far apart, we still consider the Zimels to be our closest and best friends, as we have lived so much life together and our families are so similar. Thankfully, this friendship hasn't waned despite the many miles between us. Since that time we have lived in Eugene, and now Seattle, but we still try to see each other at least once or twice per year.
A few weeks ago Amber-Rose contacted me and said that Adam is turning the big 3-0 this year, and so she wanted to do something special for him. She asked me if I would be interested in coming out to
for a special birthday weekend. It
took me about 0.8 seconds to determine that I would do what ever it took to
make it Austin
for this special event. And
Amber-Rose generously offered to buy my plane ticket to come out to Austin for the celebration! Austin
And one of the best things about this whole weekend was that Adam had no idea I was coming. I took a redeye flight from
Seattle on Thursday night and
about 8:30 on Friday. After
going back to the Zimel’s house and playing with the kids a bit, I headed over
to Adam’s officer for the big “reveal.” Here are a few photos of the kids enjoying a few of the gifts I brought from Seattle. Austin
I had previously set up a phone call with Adam to discuss “some really important” things with him. When we connected on the phone, I asked Adam if he could go down to the coffee shop located below his office so we could talk. When he came down from his office to have “the call,” I was waiting at the coffee shop. Here we are just a minute or two after the surprise:
One of Adam’s passions in life besides his faith, family, and work is basketball, and to celebrate his birthday we had a full weekend of basketball. On Friday night we traveled with several of Adam’s friends to attend a San Antonio Spurs game. Before the game we ate dinner at a nice place along the San Antonio Riverwalk. The game was lots of fun and the home crowd went home happy with a Spurs win.
View of the San Antonio RiverWalk
Another shot of the RiverWalk
Not the most flattering picture of Adam, but you can't fault the guy for enjoying his birthday dessert. I think we should have told him that he couldn't eat the candle.
The Spurs' NBA championship trophies.
View from our seats at the Spurs game.
Another shot from our seats at the game.
On the drive back to
after the game I was able to experience Buc-ee’s for the first time. Buc-ee's is apparently a real institution, and it did not disappoint. Think of a really nice convenience
store on steroids (like they say, everything is bigger in Texas). This
place was pretty incredible. Side note: Buc-ee's is incredibly proud of its bathrooms. They are immaculate, and they have a full-time employee inside the bathroom cleaning them continuously. The guys told me that I had to check them out, and I'll admit that they were the nicest public restrooms I've ever seen. Texas
Here is Buc-ee's in all its Texas-sized glory.
Buc-ee's has a full deli case of beef and turkey jerky, and they offer samples of any type you want. I think we spent about 15 minutes trying about a half-dozen different types of jerky.
Buc-ee's is apparently famous for their "Beaver Nuggets" and "Buc-ee's Nug-ees." These are essentially flavored air, and I'm sure made of 100% organic ingredients. The Nug-ee's are the spicy/savory variety, and the Beaver Nuggets are sugary. We bought a bag of the Beaver Nuggets and I had a handful. They were pretty tasty but I felt the symptoms of early-onset diabetes after I ate them.
Kind of a strange thing to be proud of, but probably well-deserved.
On Saturday morning we watched Adam coach his son Elijah’s basketball team.
Coach Adam gathers the team.
Elijah's team won easily. I love Isaac's expression in this photo (and in most photos, to be honest).
Saturday afternoon we attended the
men’s basketball game against the #4
ranked Kansas Jayhawks. We
watched the game from a suite with some guys from Adam’s work, and it was a
really fun time. The
Longhorn’s couldn't pull off the victory, but it was a really good game. After the game we saw former NFL
quarterback (and Texas Longhorn legend) Vince Young. University
At the Longhorns' basketball game.
Me with the birthday boy.
With Longhorn legend Vince Young. Hook 'em Horns!
After the UT, I had the pleasure of enjoying my first taste of Chick-Fil-A. I had never eaten there (they don’t have them in the Northwest), but I had heard so much about it. I ordered the original chicken sandwich, and it definitely lived up to the hype. We don’t eat much fast food, but I thought it was really great.
That evening we went to a birthday party in the neighborhood for awhile and then Adam and I headed out for some fun at Dave & Buster’s and then to the movie Zero Dark Thirty (short review: we both thought it was really slow until the last 30 minutes or so).
Sunday morning we all piled in their Suburban and made our way to The Austin Stone, which has been the Zimel’s church home since moving to
It was a great service and it was so easy for me to see how well-loved the
Zimels are among their church family. Austin
After church we went to Chuy’s Panaderia, a Mexican bakery and café. We enjoyed some delicious tacos and Mexican pastries.
I took this picture because I couldn't understand why these cookies have a sad face. Perhaps because one of them is missing an arm?
Trying to decide which pastry to get. They all look so good!
|Abraham was very happy with his selection.|
Samuel showing off his pastry. It was great to spend time with Samuel, and I definitely saw some of the same characteristics in him that I see in Drew.
Elijah looks like he is enjoying his treat.
This place had dozens and dozens of different types of pastries and donuts.
Isaac always has the best expressions - check the next photo for an example.
The fab five (plus a friend) up at the counter looking into the kitchen.
Sunday afternoon Adam and I went to play basketball in a local school gym with a bunch of his buddies. Fortunately I was able to escape
without breaking my foot this time! After
showering up, it was time to head to the airport so I could catch my flight
back to Austin . Seattle
Mattea was very happy with the altoid I gave her!
Love me some Hammertime!
Another classic Isaac face.
I love Abraham trying to photobomb this picture.
If you're ever looking for Elijah, you can probably find him here, out in front of the house shooting hoops. I love this picture for several reasons: Elijah is wearing mismatched shoes, and there is a collection of scooters, bikes, and battery-operated cars scattered in the driveway and road.
It was an amazing, whirlwind weekend in
and I was so incredibly thankful I could be there to help celebrate my best
friend’s birthday. Austin