I’m not ashamed to admit it — I played hooky last Friday and gave myself a nice long weekend road trip to Austin.

As a celebration of my 25th birthday, I was joined by my lovely girlfriend and my dog for a few days of fun in the city. Our state’s capital city has always treated me well and the town has given me a lot of great memories. While I’m living a few hundred miles away now, I’m fortunate to have good friends living in Austin and even luckier that they’re willing to show me the city’s best live music, food and parks when I do pass through. I did a lot of fun things there, but it was the people who made the weekend great.

First up were the old friends. I wasn’t about to make the four-hour drive and not see some of my best pals from high school and college who now call Austin home. Thankfully, we were all able to carve out some time over the weekend and meet up. They took me to the city’s hidden gems, so I was able to eat, drink and relax like a life-long local. Their hospitality was and always is much appreciated and I got my fill of good laughs that only old friends can provide so well.

I was also happy to meet some new folks on my trip. My dog, Bentley, acts as a great social elixir, introducing himself to any available people and their pets. I met a woman who went by the colorful nickname of Ochre, thus leading to a conversation about her days as a painter. Not long after that, we were joined by a guy who simply walked up and asked, “Hey, you all look like you’re all having a good time, can I join your circle?” His approach was simple but effective and we all ended up having a good chat.

Lastly, we made a new friend at the park. As my buddy and I tossed a Frisbee back and forth, a young woman walked up and asked if she could throw with us for a few minutes. She introduced herself, as did we and we quickly found some common ground. Like my girlfriend and I, she was from North Texas and was visiting for the weekend. We talked about our respective weekends and then laughed at our woes of the drive back on Interstate 35 and having to return to reality. It’s always nice to know someone who understand your struggle.

In the end, I got to do pretty much everything I wanted to on my trip. I hiked, ate well, drank some interesting beers and enjoyed a live blues show. Still it wasn’t the places, the sights or sounds that made for a great trip — it was the people.

Happy birthday Tuesday to Kelsey Lillis, Samuel Taylor, Frankie Carson and Anthony Hughley, all of Sherman; Melvin Nelson of Bells; Stan Blythe of Colleyville; Jimmy Holcemback of Bowie; Larry Jackson; and Sherry Woods of Arlington.

Happy anniversary Tuesday to Robert and Josie Softly of Sherman, 58 years.