Texas Tribune Festival, Day 1

Thursday, 9-27-2019

We piled in the car and headed west to Austin, too early to be considered a ride off into the sunset, but with plenty of time to make it to our destination: the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival.  The three-hour trip from Huntsville went by quickly, as our group of LEAP Ambassadors and friends chatted along the way, sharing life and prior travel experiences.

The festival hub wasn’t too far from the hotel, and with a coolish breeze, we chose to walk, meandering through the Capitol grounds on the way…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas

….but without any prolonged stopping – we needed to check in at TribFest before attending the opening keynote, by Congressman Will Hurd.  We were pleasantly surprised with no waiting in line to get our credentials.

Once we crossed the street toward the Paramount Theater, though, we became immediately aware that, despite leaving what we thought was adequate time, we were most likely not going to see the inside.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas

The line stretched out along the entire block, around the corner, and then up and around the next block.  We trudged to the end, mainly because it was uphill and afforded a better picture of the line.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Tribune Festival, Representative Will Hurd

We commiserated with our nearby co-queuers, then decided to take in some of downtown Austin by foot, and find an early dinner.

We stopped at Second Bar + Kitchen on Congress & Second.  Everything looked good on the menu, and we selected a variety: crispy brussells sprouts, black truffle pommes frites, pepperoni soup…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas, 2nd Kitchen

…a couple of pizzas: black + bleu and eggplant + goat cheese (hold the goat!)…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Tribune Festival, Representative Will Hurd

…and a couple of Congress burgers.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin Texas, 2nd Kitchen

No one was dissatisfied – and no one had room for dessert, a shame.

An after-dinner walk was an easy group decision.  And since we were so close, we had to detour down to the Congress Avenue Bridge. We were too late to see the bats up close, or the sunset, but we could see clouds of bats in the distance, making their way to get their own dinner.  We started the slower climb uphill back to our hotel, stopping along the way to briefly check out the wonderfully weird architecture of Austin’s City Hall…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Texas Tribune Festival, Austin City Hall

…and a brief stop by Austin City Limits, another monument to the city’s long history of promoting great, local music.

After a brief review of tomorrow’s early-morning plans, we retired earlier than the “LEAP Trip” usual time.  We will need the rest for the next two days of politics, politics, and more politics at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival!

 

Mark Burns at the Pearl Fincher

The LEAP Center helped co-sponsor Mark Burns’ “Grand Canyon Photographs” Exhibit at the Walker Education Center, so it was with a slight disappointment to see the exhibit come to a close.  But the exhibit lives on, finding a new home at the Pearl Fincher Fine Arts Museum in Spring, Texas.  The set up for that exhibit took place on Friday, September 6, and we were there to take (a small) part.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Burns, Photography

Much goes into the hanging of a new exhibit, from spacing the pieces appropriately, to ensuring that the works are level…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Burns, Photography

…to getting the descriptions placed just right.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Burns, Photography

Of course, having been present at the opening for the Bush Presidential Library and the Walker Education Center, we’ve seen each of these photos multiple times.  But Burns is introducing a few new photos for the Pearl Fincher show, and it is always nice to see the photos in a new environment, so we took another close look at each, while also helping a bit.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Burns, Photography

We each had our favorite, but there may be a general consensus that “CAVU” is a favorite of everyone’s.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Burns, Photography

CAVU, which stands for “Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited,” was President George H. W. Bush’s motto, one originating in his pilot days during WWII.  Following his passing in November 2018, Mark–who was a personal friend of the President and the Bush family photographer–took a photograph that he believed captured the essence of the motto at the Grand Canyon.

Following a few more adjustments…

…and some cleaning…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Burns, Photography

…the setup was largely complete.

We’ll be back on September 17, when Burns will be present for the Opening Reception.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Burns, Photography

Retreat: Wrapping a Weekend Up with An “African” Meal

Peli Peli Kitchen

by Makayla Mason

On our final day of the retreat, we spent the morning working on plans for the semester.  Following a two-hour meeting, we worked up a hunger, and we took the opportunity to stop by a LEAP favorite: Peli Peli Kitchen.

Peli Peli Kitchen is a restaurant that some of the LEAP Ambassadors have been to, but this time, the restaurant had been revamped, and the food was different than it had been previously. Once we walked in, the smell of delicious African-themed cuisine made our mouths water! The restaurant is a build-your-own-plate assembly line. You first decide if you want a “taco” (which uses Naan bread) or a plate. We were able to choose between coconut rice or cauliflower rice. Then, we picked the meats and sides of our choice. There was a delicious creamy garlic cheese sauce that many of us decided to get on top of our food. It really added to the flavor of the dishes.

For meat, we could choose curry chicken, steak, chicken, and shrimp.

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For dessert, we had the sticky toffee cupcakes and almond chocolate chip cookies. The cupcake was the overwhelming favorite.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Houston Texas, Peli Peli Kitchen

After a great retreat weekend, it was a nice meal to enjoy before heading back to Huntsville. Overall, the LEAP Ambassadors feel confident that they will have a successful semester!

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Museum of Natural Science, Houston Texas