It technially began in Austin, Texas...
Updated: Apr 5, 2018
I started this mission unwittingly in 2014. I planned a trip to Austin for my birthday, because I'd never been there before and flights are dirt cheap in February. Wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The first thing I did after checking into my AirBnB was head down to the Continental Club for a shot of whiskey, a Lone Star, and some Honky Tonk. So far so good.
The Lone Star State
The next morning I walked all the way from my place in Travis Heights to the capitol, as it seemed a focal point of the downtown area (a very common feature of state capitols). I hopped on the next available tour with an adorable elderly docent (another common feature of capitols!) who had worked very hard to memorize all the important facts of Texas history. Completed in 1888, the Texas capitol is BIG, as you might imagine. They brag about it being taller than the US Capitol, which is true, though it's only the 6th tallest of the 50 state capitols (stay tuned for my Nebraska post), and they don't mention that.
Lest you forget where you pinched the shit out of your fingers.
Near the end of the tour, after seeing the House and Senate chambers, and sweet custom door hinges, I felt the urge to hit the bathroom, so I wandered around to find the most remote and seemingly private bathroom (like any sane person). I found one in the modern portion of the building, a 4-story underground expansion completed in 1993 (in retrospect, this is a bit of a disappointment, since the main joy of using state capitols bathrooms is their old-world opulence - I will avoid this mistake in the future). Then, I shat. Nothing remarkable. Probably looked at my BlackBerry for 15 minutes. That's it. That's how it began. I wouldn't realize the mission I had just undertaken until a year and a half later, in my own city of Denver.
The rest of that first Austin trip was okay. The weather was cold and cloudy, like 48 degrees, which keeps the locals indoors and underneath all the blankets they own. Ate some food truck tacos and donuts, saw a rock show at Hotel Vegas, thought about buying some $400 snakeskin boots, that's about it. OHHH and I met my dear friend Elmer, a clerk at a bodega at Sixth and Brazos that no longer exists. I believe it is now a luxury condo development or something bourgie like that. Elmer and I had a great time doing shots, playing ping pong in a trailer park till 4 AM, and falling asleep with frozen pizzas in the oven. That was it as far as shenanigans. I had only been growing my beard for a year at that point, and I had not yet found the beardo scene, much less connected with the legendary Austin Facial Hair Club. Let's just say, subsequent trips to Austin were significantly more debaucherous. I would go on to drink countless Lone Stars there.