Oh, Austin…

Austin dubs itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  A well-deserved title.  An equally well-deserved moniker would be “Rubbernecking Capital of the World.”

Seriously.   Austin traffic is dismal.  Bad.  Horrible.   We suffer through long and much-delayed construction projects, restricted lanes, new tolls on well traveled routes, terrible rush hours, and endless debates on funding affordable, responsible mass transit.

In my humble opinion, we can help ourselves out for free by just NOT RUBBERNECKING.  Come on, Austin!   I’ve lived in and traveled through many different cities, but nowhere have I seen this level of self-induced misery.

Case in point:  today we attended a beautiful Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of our friends.  On the way home (1:30PM on a Saturday ), we popped onto Mopac North.   Traffic was moving very slowly.

So, I looked at google maps to see what was going on.   Yuck.  Mopac was red for miles in both directions.  Luckily for us, we were almost through the worst of it.

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Hmm, was it a terrible accident up ahead?  Overturned car?  Lane closure? Jack-knifed trailer tractor?  Police pulled someone over on the shoulder?  A backup on the exit?  Ambulance blocking lanes?

Ummmm.  No.   It was simply an open house and Muster Day at Camp Mabry – lots of brightly colored tents, military equipment and helicopters on display on the parade grounds of Camp Mabry, WAAAY off to the west of Mopac.  But, sadly, it *is* visible from Mopac, if you just turn your head and hit the breaks to take it all in.  And that’s what people were doing, in both directions.   No amount of infrastructure funding is going to help that.  Sigh.

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Dinner in the rear view mirror. 

We had a fun day! Julie collected 7 souls to go sailing with us on an amazing sunny & breezy day on Lake Travis.   We sailed to Volente and then anchored in arky north, on the way back, for several hours.  Back to the dock by sunset.  We grabbed dinner at P. Terry’s on the way home.   Overall:  awesome!

Beer me.

After a very rainy weekend the sun finally came out Sunday afternoon.   We decided to check out a couple breweries nearby.   Austin Beerworks has a new and expanded tasting room and patio area that opened recently — kid and dog friendly.  My Pearl Snap was great!


Just down the road, Circle Brewing Co. was serving up some good brews.   I had the Alibi blond ale.  Monte tried a flight. 


We’re lucky to have so many local breweries nearby.  We’ll hit a few more next time. 

Hiking Bull Creek.

Last weekend, I went for a 3-hour group hike with one of the biologists that does research for the City-of-Austin-managed Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.  It was really interesting.   We hiked a short loop along the preserve at Bull Creek.  Along the way, I learned much about the native Ashe junipers throughout the hill country that I had previously come to detest, due to my annual cedar fever allergy symptoms.   But I came away with a new appreciation for the tree and the role it plays in the ecosystem of the Balcones Canyonlands.   I also learned about the other native grasses and shrubs that make up the understory of the woodland.  And about the endangered golden-cheeked warbler that will soon make its annual trek from Central America in early March to nest in the woodlands of the preserve until returning south in July.   I’m looking forward to more hikes out there.  Stay tuned.

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Bull Creek  is flowing nicely since the drought has broken.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, I caught a tiger swallowtail butterfly taking a break along the creek.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very nice!

Towering.

I booked a couple of tickets to tour the University of Texas Tower tonight.  It has been, thankfully, a rainy weekend, so I didn’t get the pre-sunset view that I was hoping for, but I enjoyed the tour and the 360 degree views of the city.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A panoramic view from the observation deck, located below the clockface, looking south.IMG_0975

Out on the town.

Last night we celebrated Laura’s birthday by going on a wine bar crawl downtown.  We had picked out 6 or so places ahead of time to stop in at for appies and drinks during the night.  We made it to 5 of them!  In crawl-order:  Prelog’s, Irene’s, True Food Kitchen, La Condesa & The Secret Bar at the W Hotel.  A good time was had by all.

I especially liked this overhead light fixture at La Condesa:

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Seen on a building along one leg of the crawl…. i agree 🙂IMG_0559 (1)

The round rock of Round Rock.

We went to a Round Rock Express minor league baseball game tonight.  We won 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th on a three run, over the fence home run.   Exciting finish.

On the way up there we stopped at the Chisholm Trail park on Brushy Creek.  In the middle of the creek is a large limestone rock, eroded on all sides, which back in the day became known as a marker of the low-water crossing of the creek for indians, travelers and cattle drives of the 1800s.  This is the rock that Round Rock, Texas is named after.

I can’t believe we’ve lived here for 20 years and have never seen THE round rock.   Better late than never.

Ups and downs.

The lake levels are dropping from the 693′ levels from earlier this week.  Lake Travis was reopened today.   It’ll need to get to about 683′ before we have power on our docks restored.  But we’ll probably head out there this weekend anyway.  The shot below is of the downstream side of Lake Travis’ Mansfield Dam, with 3 flood gates open, from last weekend.   What a difference a year makes!

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Eyes of Texas.  

I was on campus tonight to join an old college roommate and her family watch one of her daughters in a dance competition.   And her team won!  

I caught a quick shot of the UT Tower.  It is lit up in orange tonight; for Honors Day.  Hook ’em!

   
By the way, if you ever want to know what the occasion is for a lit up tower, checkout this link.  And a background on the university tradition of lighting the tower here.  

And now for something completely different…

  
We heard about a play near campus called Shit-faced Shakespeare, and went to see it tonight.  Yep, you guessed it:  one cast member is supposed to be very, very drunk, while the show goes on.   I suspect it actually involves more acting than inebriation. 

It’s not for everyone, but whether they are actually sh!t-faced or pretend, it’s a funny show.   

It’s showing at Spider House Ballroom – little over an hour long.  And they have a bar in the back. 

The whole shooting match.  

Went to see a screening of a restored 1978 made-in-Austin film tonight, said to have initiated the local indie film genre and inspired Robert Redford to start the Sundance Institute to support independent filmmakers, along with its annual film festival.  The film was The Whole Shootin’ Match, at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.   I enjoyed it quite a bit.