1. I-35 is a parking lot. No matter the time of day.
Born & raised in the Los Angeles area... I grew up around traffic. Six lanes in each direction, 'stop & go' was a guarantee for the morning (6-8AM) and evening commutes (4-7PM) on any interstate. However, Austin's stretch of I-35 doesn't care about the "normal" commuting hours, the time of day, what exit you're looking for or if it's even the weekend. It is CONSTANTLY packed with cars (& trucks - #Texas).
Whether its 10AM on a Tuesday or 2PM on a Sunday, the standstill exists. It took me 20 minutes to drive 3 miles into work on Monday morning. THREE MILES. That's it. There were no accidents or even construction delays - just simply, overwhelming volume.
Why? I haven't figured that out yet. Solution? Leave earlier. Or scooter.
2. Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
I learned this the hard way. Twice.
I had heard a lot of great things about H.E.B., the Texas grocery store, and was interested to see what the hype was all about. The food looked good... and there's plenty of locally-made items which I'm all about. But I filled my cart only to find out (once reaching the checkout counter) that if you want bags to put your groceries in, you will be asked to buy them if you didn't bring any yourself.
I do have reusable bags somewhere... but until I unpack that particular box (wherever it may be), I'll be dishing out 25 cents a bag and overloading my arms with anything that doesn't fit & making the trek back to the car. Better for the environment (which I'm all for!), but another quarter short in my wallet.
3. Holy humidity.
The suburbs of southern California, the foothills of Colorado, the plains of West Texas & the high desert of New Mexico... none of which see any major problems with humidity. Moving to central Texas --> HUMIDITY PROBLEM.
I've been here a whole 10 days and have not stopped sweating since I stepped out of the airport. Yes, it is the hottest time of the year. And yes, I realize the differences in climate will take some getting used to. But no one can truly prepare you for a heat index of 106 degrees. I feel like there's a constant layer of salty water on my skin at all times. And I stick to everything.
Afternoon errands --> shower. Walk to coffee --> shower. Take the trash out --> shower. Dinner --> shower.
I've now come to accept that I will be a heaping sweaty mess of melting make-up & uncomfortable perspiration until October. Real talk.
4. This town was made for BBQ & happy hours.
On every street in Austin, you'll more than likely find a local restaurant with a unique flare & another with a sign labeled "Texas BBQ". I have begun eating my way through this city and have found no shortage of delicious food & instagrammable cocktails. From South Congress, to Downtown, to Rainey Street, there is a little something of everything here. And let's not count out the dozens upon dozens of food trucks in pockets all across ATX.
How do people not eat out for every meal here?! And even if they do, how do they not let it show?! I'm well on my way to a 'freshmen 15' -- a good 15lbs in my 'freshmen' year of living one of the best food cities in America (IMHO).
5. People are friendly - for no reason.
Some call it 'the Texas way'... but the fact that people are willing to strike up conversation for no other reason than to be kind... can be a little off-putting. At first I was skeptical... but I now find it refreshing. From my movers... to the guy behind the counter at the dry cleaners... to my new co-workers... these people are truly nice just for the sake of being nice. No agendas. No hoping for something in return. No tip in exchange. They're just... nice.
I like it. And I hope to be more like 'em.
After a physically & emotionally-draining last few days in ABQ... I needed to get away to recharge before my move to Austin. My parents had just bought a house in Tennessee a few months back which seemed to be the perfect place to "unwind" for a few days.
MOM & DAD'S NEW HOME: Last spring (2018), my parents decided after spending nearly their entire lives in California, it was time for a change. Dad worked for California Highway Patrol and was anchored to the state for +20 years. He retired in 2011... and once Mom joined him on "permanent vacation", they packed up their stuff, sold the house & hit the road with just a Ford truck & a 31-ft trailer in tow. They roamed the country in search of a good retirement home... stopping in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi & the Carolinas. They spent close to a year living in that trailer before eventually deciding on Tennessee, buying a home just outside of Nashville. Mom got her farm house... and Dad got his land. All were happy.
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME: I took a couple days to just sleep & catch up with my parents. But we did a little bit of adventuring once I recouped. We spent an afternoon in downtown Nashville visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. I'm a BIG Garth Brooks & Dolly Parton fan... so the museum was right up this country gal's alley. (NOTE: a bit pricey with tickets running about $25/person... but worth seeing at least once). We also stopped for drinks & apps at Florida Georgia Line's bar right off Broadway.
ARRINGTON VINEYARDS: Of course, it wouldn't be vacation without good food & drink. My sister tipped us off to a really neat winery down the road from the house. So we spent an evening at Arrington Vineyards -- a winery owned by Kix Brooks (one half the famous "Brooks& Dunn" country duo). It was beautiful! We did a wine tasting at the bar & bought a bottle of their Chardonnay to share. They have a HUGE grassy field between the tasting house & the vineyards where everyone is welcome to bring their own food and lawn chairs. In typical Currie-fashion, we forgot our snacks... but we did remember the lawn chairs! The wine was good... the weather was perfect... we all agreed that we would be back in the future.
THE BEST OF FRANKLIN: we also spent a day eating our way through Franklin, TN. Mom found a famous restaurant called "55 South". (We didn't realize it then but it was actually featured on 'Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives' -- a Currie family favorite on Food Network.) I ordered the 'HOT Chicken Sandwich' -- when in Tennessee...
We also made a quick stop at a "Biscuit Love" -- a restaurant known for anything & everything biscuit. We had heard that their "Bonuts" were one of their popular items -- so we snagged a table and put in an order to-go. These did NOT disappoint. Fried biscuit-dough covered in cinnamon+sugar & served with a blueberry compote + lemon mascarpone (kind of like a cream cheese). Another place that will be seeing the Currie family again...
After a 6-day stretch of good food & daily naps, it's back to Texas this afternoon (TUE). An apartment full of boxes needing to be unpacked awaits me. I'll definitely miss morning coffee with Dad in the backyard & talking about ways to decorate the new house with Mom... but we're already in the stages of planning where & who gets to host Thanksgiving this year... so I'll see them again soon.
Until then... it's back to TEXAS.
July 8th 2019 was my final day on-air in Albuquerque. With the stress of packing & goodbyes, I was drained -- but grateful to have completed 4.5 successful years at the station. I can confidently look back at where I was on my first day (December 10th 2014) versus where I am now on my last day, and know that those 4.5 years have made me better -- a better forecaster, a better coworker, a better friend & a better Christian.
Below is a clip from my last day on-air:
#5: BALLOON FIESTA
Four Fiestas out there on the field... dark, early & cold... but the breath-taking views makes the early-morning struggle worth it. Between the balloons, breakfast burritos & Piñon coffee... easily my favorite week of the year. 🎈
#4: THE FOOD
The Frontier Roll, the Laguna Burger, an enchilada/taco plate with Christmas on the side, a chicken kabob from the NM State Fair, the Topes’ ‘Orbit dog’ & “turkey bread” from a local panaderia... I came, I indulged & I fell in love with that NM cuisine. 🌶
#3: COMMUNITY EVENTS
If there’s one thing I spent more time doing than the forecast, it was serving this community. Hoping to get involved in as many non-profits, charities & deserving organizations... pouring my heart into this city, it’s people &, most importantly, the kids.... never saying no to a classroom visit... signing up for every Toys for Tots phone bank, every Mud Volleyball tournament, Lobo football camps & all the KRQECares shoe drives I could get to. Late nights, busy weekends & less time off... and I regret absolutely none of it. ❤️
#2: INTERVIEWS TURNED FRIENDSHIPS
Being stuck in studio most days, I look forward to our 7-9AM show & the new people I get to meet during interviews. From science experiments, gingerbread houses & pets... to veterans, pies & ABQ events... these ‘interviewees’ turned into friends... and I’m so thankful for our weekly/monthly/yearly visits. ❤️
#1: 'FIRST TIME' EXPERIENCES
Unforgettable ‘first times’:
• flying in a hot air balloon
• covering a $3 million horse race
• visiting White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns & Chaco Canyon
• snowboarding down a blue run
• competing in a shovel race
• judging a green chile cheeseburger competition
• talking with Garth Brooks
• meeting an alien at the UFO festival
• flying in a helicopter
Taking it back to December 2014 -- Lubbock, TX to Albuquerque, NM
New Mexico was my second stop in my on-air career, my opportunity to jump out of 'small market TV' and into a place in life where I could actually pay bills & still have money leftover in my bank account (don't get me wrong, I loved my time in the Hub City... but that Market #147 pay was ROUGH).
I joined KRQE in December of 2014 as a naive 22 year old thinking 'OK, I can do this'. Little did I know -- the move to New Mexico would be the hardest transition of my life thus far -- both personally & professionally.
As both a forecaster and as just a gal in her 20s, life came at me HARD my first year in NM. The transition was difficult (to say the least). Viewers were very resistant, I knew no one outside of work, I barely knew the cities/geography of the state. It was a 'what the heck have I done' moment in life.
Everyday, I fought to prove myself. Prove to my coworkers & viewers that I wasn't just a blonde girl who could talk on TV. I spent every shift trying to 'earn my stripes' -- staying late, signing up for community events, getting involved in any way I could.
Slowly but surely, I started to become familiar with the area, make a few friends outside of the studio and the viewers loosened up (kinda). Year 2... Year 3... and Year 4... I became a stronger forecaster & a stronger person. My skin got thicker... I focused a little more on 'me' and a little less on 'them'... and I could do +25 weather hits in a 4 hour morning show and still have enough energy to go to the gym after my afternoon nap.
Looking back now, I can honestly say, Albuquerque was the smack in the face I needed. I have grown more in my last 4 years here in NM than I have at any other point in my life.
There are definitely things I'll miss... and there's a few things I'm looking forward to going on without... but there's one thing I know for sure: I would not be who I am today if it wasn't for what I learned here in NM. I'll always look back on my time in Albuquerque and think of it as one giant kick in the tush. Between viewer criticism, failed relationships & long days in the Weather Center -- I became a better, badder & stronger version of myself. And for that, I'm grateful.