A view of my world in Central Illinois and places we go.

Austin, TX

I mentioned in my last post that I would be traveling to Austin (TX) and might have some photos to share. I did and I do.So, where do I start? Probably from the beginning…I have never been to Texas before – I don’t think I’ve even transferred planes in a Texas airport, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Cowboy boots and hats everywhere? Didn’t see much of those, but Kathy tells me we were in the “Athens” of Texas, meaning we weren’t out on the range. Anyway, I know I wanted barbecue and Tex-Mex food and got plenty of both! And, because I was there on professional travel, I did expect to see something with a hydrologic connection, and we did. 

So, if I’m starting at the beginning, I will. Traveling with colleague George Roadcap, we rented a car at the airport and set out to hit some sites before even going to the hotel. Why? Well, we got into town relatively early AND the big hydrologic attraction, Barton Springs, was in-town and not too far from the hotel. Barton Springs is just that, a large, natural outlet of groundwater. The springs have been developed into a large outside swimming pool – those of us that grew up in Naperville will recall our old swimmin’ hole, Centennial Pool. Kinda like that, only nice clear water. Here are a few photos to give you an idea. You can see that we are close to downtown (see the skyline?). Barton Springs occupies a stream channel carved into the bedrock which you can see in the foreground in the first picture below. And, in the last picture, you can clearly see not only how clear the water is, but that there is some unique vegetation (and aquatic organisms, too) living in the water. There is a very strong current due to the inflow of spring water and a weir outlet regulating the height of water at the far end of the first two photos below – I am trying to remember just how much inflow there is, something on the order of several thousand gallons per minute. So, swimmers can get a good workout, not only because of the length of the pool, but also because half the time one would be swimming “upstream.”

After Barton Springs, we checked into our hotel and took a drive around the UT campus before heading out of town for dinner at a place George knew about called the Oasis. UT is much like other campuses, many nice stone buildings and an added feature, Spanish moss hanging off the live oaks. Makes for a pretty campus. We were struck by the fact that we saw so few students – but maybe Sunday afternoon they are not wandering around campus…

Some may remember the UT Tower as the site of the 1966 shooting of 14 people by a student. Turning around, one looks down the central campus, past the live oaks, toward the state capitol. From here we headed west out of town toward Lake Travis and the Oasis. On the way, we spotted a bunch of cars parked along the highway and people heading up a stairway to the top of a rocky hill. Our curiosity got the better of us, so we, too, headed up the stairs of Mount Bonnell. A great  look-out over Lake Austin and a beautiful view back to Austin greeted us.

Here’s George looking down on a sunny Lake Austin with what we think is a “fake” paddle-wheeler heading upstream.

Austin skyline from Mount Bonnell

From here, we headed out to Lake Travis and the famous Oasis restaurant, known for spectacular views of the sunset over the Lake. We were not disappointed. And the food was pretty good, too (Tex-Mex, yahoo!).

Panoramic view of Lake Travis just after the sun got below the horizon.

After dealing with the reason for our travels to Austin (business must intercede, don’t you know), we got out on our final evening to see the renowned bat population as they swarm out from under a bridge at dusk (actually is was fairly dark by the time they came out). First, a walk past the state capitol.
As we got to the “bat cave” – the Congress Ave. bridge, someone tried to tell us because of the switch to daylight savings made the previous weekend the bats would not be out until after dark (now you tell me the bats all have little watches, right?). So, while we waited on the river bridge for these little darlings to appear, we were treated to a pretty sunset reflected in several of the downtown office buildings.
Seems like a terrible way to end a post, but I leave with a few photos of the bats as they emerged from their home under the bridge. They came out by the hundreds – this lasted for 15-20 minutes or more. Frankly, maybe it was a good thing it was dark this time out or I might have been really disgusted and maybe it would have even ruined the wonderful dinner we had afterward. realize these photos were greatly lightened in post-edit so that we can see these creatures.

2 responses

  1. Jan

    Great photos, Al. I've only visited Austin once and would like to return to enjoy its music scene.


    December 13, 2010 at 10:43 AM

  2. We sat in a place our last evening there and listened to some pretty good music. Just three people, a woman playing bass and singing, a drummer, and a lead guitarist. The guitarist looked very young and did not make a lot of contortions, as so many do, but boy could he whale on the gitar! Little BB King, little Stevie Ray (he's a god down there!), and a lot of original stuff. It was a good thing they broke down at 10 for another band so we didn't feel obligated to stay later…


    December 14, 2010 at 1:34 PM

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