May 29 – bikin’ around Austin

This morning, after getting more than 5 hours of sleep for the first time all week, I had a few hours to kill.  My friend had a spare bicycle, so I took a self-guided “bike tour” through bits of the city.  Here’s some of what I saw:

Just a couple of blocks from the house I was staying, I came across an amazing plant/greenhouse store that took up most of an entire city block. Image

Their sections on cacti and succulents were particularly impressive, and I found myself wishing I could take plants on the plane (unfortunately I don’t think you can do that these days).  These aloe plants reminded me of my childhood in north Florida.


These ones even more so.  My dad used to grow a whole row of aloe plants along the edge of the house; we’d cut off leaves on the many occasions that we got too much sun and smear the cool soothing aloe slime all over our arms and shoulders.


A top-down view of one of the many impressive aloe plants they were selling.




On my way down to the river, I rode by this cool “underpass park,” with swings hanging from the concrete.  You can still see puddles here and there from the ferocious rains of this past weekend.Image

Another view of the underpass park, with little palmettos also reminding me of north Florida.


I rode along the Austin greenway, a winding path that follows, more or less, along (and occasionally over) the Colorado River, which for some reason is called Lady Bird Lake in the city limits.  You can ride the whole trail for a 12 mile loop, and I alternated between riding on the trail and exploring the city zigzagging through the city streets.Image

Brighly-blooming lupine, against the backdrop of Lady Bird Lake


Parts of the trail rode out on causeways over the bends and inlets of the river.  It was a lovely day to be out kayaking, with the city skyline in the background.Image

So I’m riding along the south side of the river, and all the sudden, the trail turns left to follow a clear blue spring-fed river.  Suddenly, it looks like I’m at Blue Springs in north Florida or something.  Right in the middle of this big city!  Image

Rode alongside the blue waters of the spring-filled creek all the way to Barton Springs park, which was fenced in with a big man-made pool and cost a few $ to get in.  This swimmin’ hole just below the fenced-off area was free to swim in, and that’s where I took a nice long mid-day dip.  So refreshing!Image

Where the water flowed out of the developed pool part of the springs, there was a cute little waterfall.  It was extremely refreshing to sit back against the edge of it and let the water pound over your head. Image

Amazing to find such an idyllic spot in the middle of a big city.  I could have spent all day here, but I had more riding to do and a plane to catch.Image

Farewell Barton springs, ’till next time I’m in Austin (which hopefully won’t be too long– I’m definitely going back to this part of the country, and will bring the boys next time)Image

Along the ride home, I came across a drainage ditch filled with the sort of roadside flowers I’ve been seeing out in the countryside all week.  It looked like it had been entirely full of water a few days ago, but had drained, and the wildflowers were in serious bloom.  I was glad to get a chance to examine them at a speed less than 60 mph.Image

Mexican Hat flower Image

I’ll leave you with this one final photo of wildflowers in an Austin drainage ditch.  Goodbye Austin, goodbye Texas, time to board a plane back to ol’ Virginny.Image



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