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Hey there! It's Ben

What a Month! It’s Ben (December 2023) — BBQ, Camping, & Scottsdale

Published 2 months ago • 3 min read

Happy New Year!!

I rang in NYE by hosting 30 or so people over at my place. It was remarkably lovely to be surrounded by so many fantastic friends from different parts of my life. And while I unfortunately didn’t get a photo from actual New Year’s, here’s one of me getting balloons from Party City the day before:

Other than that, here’s what I got up to in the month of December!

Snow’s BBQ

On December 2nd, I woke up at 3am for BBQ.

My friends Daniel and Marcus picked me up at 3:45am and we got to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas before 5am.

We were 30th in line.

The pitmaster at Snow’s is the 88-year-old Tootsie Tomanetz. Mondays through Fridays she works as the janitor at a local high school and then on Saturdays she cooks up some of the best barbecue in the state of Texas. Snow’s is only open on Saturdays starting at 8am and closes when they run out of food. So you better get there early to avoid getting aced out!

Daniel, Marcus, and I waited in line for three and a half hours and passed the time by befriending an Australian man named James who, for his first trip to the States, was on a two-month cross-country RV trip with his wife and three sons. A majority of James’s time in Austin was spent eating (or waiting in line for) barbecue; he took his family to five of the top Austin BBQ spots during their less than three days in town.

We got to the front of the line around 8:30am and loaded up our tray full of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork steak, beans, slaw, and banana pudding. It was all fantastic, but the highlight for me was the ribs; they were hands down the best I’ve ever had.

If you get a chance to go to Snow’s, I highly recommend it. Both the food and experience are one-of-a-kind. And Netflix Chef’s Table episode on Tootsie and Snow’s does an amazing job of telling her story. I watched it the following evening and it added extra color to the experience 😊

Camping

The following weekend, my friend Henry assembled a crew of five guys from our high school to go camping for his birthday, with Kyle and Steven flying to Austin for the occasion.

We set up at a beautiful campsite on Lake Travis and spent the day walking around, playing Spikeball, and building a fire before the sun set and temperatures plummeted from 75 degrees down to 38.

From there, we huddled around the fire, cooked dinner, whipped up smores, shook up some Jiffy Pop, foraged for sticks (pro tip: buy twice as much wood as you think you’ll need for the campfire), and simply just chatted before calling it a night and bundling into our sleeping bags.

Overall it was a great time with a great crew. And it sure felt nice to disconnect and be out in nature 😊

Scottsdale

Over Christmas, I visited my grandparents in Scottsdale! Highlights included:

🎄 A typical Jewish Christmas of going to the movies (we saw Ferarri) and eating Chinese food

🥧 Helping Grandma bake her signature chocolate chip banana bread

🏋️ Working out at the YMCA with Grandpa

🚶 Going on serene walks and hikes

🌎 Seeing my friend Justin, who just wrapped up a year of international travel with his wife that took them to six continents and some epic adventures

Other Adventures

  • I popped out to San Francisco for a quick weekend and saw some friends
  • I went to two Hanukkah parties! This has been the first year in Austin where I’ve found fun and organic things to do for the Jewish holidays — I’m feeling grateful that I’ve begun to find a bit of a Jewish community out here
  • In my free time, I’ve been hitting spin class and hot yoga

Monthly Favorites

🎵 Song: Conversation With A Devil by Andre Nickatina — “My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre” has been running laps in my brain since I first stumbled upon Nickatina a month or so ago (not that I’m complaining). So catchy. So smooth. So endearing. 👌

🎥 Movie: Searching for Sugar Man — The surreal story of Rodriguez, a 1970s folk singer from Detroit whose music failed to catch on in the United States yet who unknowingly became “bigger than Elvis” in South Africa.

📘 Book: Same as Ever by Morgan Housel — In a world that feels as though it’s constantly changing, Morgan Housel drops sage wisdom by exploring the things that always stay the same.


Thank you for reading! As we move into 2024, I'm reminded of how grateful I am to have so many amazing people in my life – many of whom are reading this now. I appreciate you all so so much 😊

Til Next Month,

Ben

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