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…
|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!).