We left the dust of the Alamo behind in San Antonio on March 27 for a quick drive north an hour or so to Austin. We worked around the craziness and hefty prices of Austin’s South by Southwest for a week after the annual movie and music festival in an Airbnb only this time in an apartment complex on South Congress. We’re only about 2 miles from SoCo, the hipster/weird shops and restaurants of the city, and an additional 2 miles from the state Capitol.
We had a day of rain following our arrival, so it was warm and very humid after that. We joined a free walking tour of downtown and enjoyed a free tour of the beautiful and massive pink granite Capitol building. We were able to walk freely about as the Capitol is open to all. So, unless the door is locked, your welcome to walk right in and say how y’all do’n? We walked onto the legislative floors (Senate and House of Representatives) as they were not in session. Texas is one of 4 states that meet biennially every odd numbered year. The sunset red granite building was completed in 1888, and is the largest capitol building in the United States, including Washington D.C. As we hear a lot ‘round these parts – everything’s big in Texas!
The Colorado River runs right through the center of town where it forms a lake, of sorts. There are parks, biking trails, and dedicated road lanes just for bicycles. D was able to ride all over the city and even joined in on a group ride. I was able to put in a few miles around St. Edwards University campus where the bluebonnet meadows were in bloom. Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower and are mini lupines about 12” or so tall - en masse they are spectacular. This town is full of people of all ages riding bicycles, along with walkers, joggers, and runners night and day. While sometimes when we visit places, we’re taking our life into our own hands around traffic, here the drivers are obviously used to all the different activity and are very patient – how refreshing.
From the moment we arrived we noticed all the neon signs. Turns out, Austin in known for their neon. You probably have noticed a few neon sign pics from time to time on this website. Dennis makes it a point to capture a snap when he can. It’s a bit of nostalgia from a time we both remember seeing before the newer modern signage came about, and you can’t beat the glow of neon at night.
One evening we stood on the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk to see the Mexican free-tailed bats take to the skies. They are just beginning to gather as they return from wintering in Mexico. This time of the year there are thousands and that number grows to around 1.5 million by August when the pups take to the skies with their mothers. This colony is thought to be largest urban bat colony in North America. Unfortunately, they decided to sleep in a little longer and by the time they began to take flight, it was too dark to see them. Austin has a slogan about keeping Austin weird, so it seemed fitting for us to be on this bridge with hundreds of people basically hanging out. But we did see a lovely sunset.
Thanks for joining our journey.