Posts/January, 2010/

Two Days in Austin, Texas

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

On Friday, J. and I picked up our economy model Kia from Enterprise and were on our way south on Interstate 35 to Austin, Texas. Our itinerary was simple: go to Austin, then drive to Galveston Island and back by Tuesday.

Our music for the trip: Devendra Banhart, Monsters Of Folk, Broken Bells, and Malajube.

Our car had an auxiliary input jack, but we had no cord. Instead, our road trip was scored with only 4 CDs: Devandra Banheart’s What Will We Be, Monsters Of Folk and Broken Bells’ self-titled albums, and Malajube’s Labyrinthes. The radio in Austin was good too.

Austin is not only the capital, but also regarded as the best city in Texas to live. It’s artistic, funky, progressive. Bike lanes are more common, the busses are okay, and the natural scenery of the hill country is beautiful. Plus, at the right time of year, one of the bridges is host to tens of thousands of bats. Winter isn’t the time for bats, though. We arrived in the early afternoon and orientated ourselves to the town. Then we checked into our hotel.

Agave Americana capped with holiday balls.

Beautiful old house on the top of a hill.

Wall problems.

A shack mixed between high value homes.

A public dirt bike park.

Corinthian columns.

Our hotel: the funky and expensive Hotel San José.

Heated pool.

Our room.

Our sink and window toilet paper.

After checking in, we went for a freezing walk down South Congress to the river and back. Along the way, we saw a car wash that had frozen over in icicles and white and pink frosty foam. We got back to the car and drove to Zilker Park to see what all the fuss was about. The park is beautiful but empty during the winter. Along Barton Creek is a locally famous set of five springs that people swim in during the summer. The water was perfectly clear.

The capitol building at the end of Congress.

River through a bridge’s fence.

The small gauge kiddy train at Zilker park was closed for the winter.

The adorable little track.

Eliza Spring near Barton Spring in Wilker Park.

Clear, blue Barton Spring.

Turnstile.

The far end of Barton Spring.

Ball moss growing in a tree.

J. holding a ball.

Underbrush by a creek.

LOVE truck.

J. and I stumbled on a massive pile of maybe 1,000 old Christmas trees getting collected for recycling. Inspired by a father and his kids that were leaving the pile, we decided to climb through. Footing was tricky and prickly, but by walking along the trunks it was nearly impossibly to fall into the dark pockets below. In mass, the needles were surprisingly soft. All the trees on top bounced under our weight. We cross the pile and left with big smiles, and smelling strongly of sap.

We took a long winding drive around Lake Austin before stopping for dinner and retiring for the night.

A pile of Christmas trees being collected for recycling.

A stack of fragrant pines four trees deep.

The Ghost of Christmas Awesome!

J. hiding in a tree.

Sloppy decoration.

Limestone cliffs at sunset.

Bridge.

On Saturday, we woke up and went on a drive in search of coffee, pastries, and wedding rings. Afterward, we wandered around the capitol building.

The capitol building.

Coconut Monkey in the gallery of past Texas governors.

Looking up at the dome.

Looking down at the floor.

Inside the empty Senate room.

Beautiful ceiling.

The empty House of Representatives room.

The chairs of the House of Representatives.

Looking down from the 3rd ring in the gallery.

Banister.

Hallway.

Construction walkway.

Old train trestle in the middle of downtown.

In the nearly dry creek bed.

A fitness DVD amongst the river stones.

J. approaching me in a graffitied storm drain.

Don-Mar Motor Court sign.

Afterward, we went to the Cathedral of Junk, a labor of eccentric love by Vince Hannemann. The place was like stepping inside a wilder version of my parents’ house. The structure is a shrine to the holy trinity of the pack rat, artist, and weirdo.

The house in front of the Cathedral of Junk.

It’s hard for a picture to show how large and complicated the structure is. It has many rooms and is nearly as tall as a three story house.

“The Sisters” rabbits.

The main entrance to the cathedral.

Bottle cap cross and blue bottles.

A roof made of box springs and bottles.

Looking down from a second story nook.

A wall of junk.

A shrine behind the cathedral.

Another shrine, this one housing the ashes of people that wanted to be left at the cathedral.

The back wall of the cathedral. Note the spiral staircase on the right.

Rooster.

Lunch/dinner was from a BBQ place far outside of Austin called The Salt Lick. The drive was scenic and rural, passing an incongruous Hindu temple along the way. Our $11 plate included beef, sausage, german potato salad, vinegary slaw, and a fist sized roll.

After lunch, we headed to the top of Mt. Bonnell to watch the sun set.

Meat grilling at The Salt Lick BBQ far outside of Austin.

Making meals.

Our lunch. Not pictured: Dr. Pepper and peach cobbler.

Vineyards.

The entrance to Barsana Dham, a large Hindu compound in the middle of nowhere.

Empty parking lot outside the temple.

Another view of the temple.

A Hindu peacock.

Clear water on the low side of Lake Austin.

Tom Miller Dam, responsible for Lake Austin.

View of the lake from Mt. Bonnell.

Wind blown tree on the cliffs of Mt. Bonnell.

Looking south down the Colorado River.

Big home along the lake.

A nimble bird feeding on seeds.

Branch at sunset.

Most of downtown Austin in the warm light of a chilly evening.

On Sunday morning, we packed up the car and hit the road for Galveston Island.

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