Batfest: 2012

Last evening thousands of Austines turned out for Batfest, celebrating the colony of  Mexican free-tailed bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Even though Adam West did not attend this year’s event, there was still plenty of live music, unhealthy food, bat paraphernalia, and bat watching stretched across the bridge.

Bill and I can now confirm with certainty that…
…more people come to Batfest when temperatures are under 100 degrees.
…there may be different models of Batmobiles but all are black.
…bat rings can peacefully coexist with other animals.
…the bat tatoos were of the temporary wash-off type.
…cool bat-inspired costumes don’t have to involve capes. 

Random Acts of Bubbles

Bill and I were ready for Saturday morning’s flash mob, cleverly named Random Acts of Bubbles. On the previous evening, we even made a special trip to CVS to purchase  containers of Miracle Bubbles.
Bubble Blowing commenced at 11:15 AM on the Congress Avenue Bridge. We were instructed to not interrupt oncoming traffic, so everyone obediently faced the lake. But the  wind was blowing toward us so we all gave up and turned around to face the roadway. Drivers will slow down when they see a hundred Bubble Blowers on a bridge.
Most flash mobbers were Bubble Blowing Machines but Bill and I struggled with our Less Than Miracle Bubbles. Next time we’re investing in a more-efficient Big Bubble Wand.
In true flash-mob fashion, the crowd scattered after ten minutes.

And so ended Random Acts of Bubbles. 

Bring on the Rain

A line of thunderstorms approached downtown Austin about 6:30 PM this evening. Bill and I watched as the dark clouds headed our way from the northwest suburbs.

Heavy rain mixed with some hail hit the downtown area for about an hour. Bill and I just sat on our couch and watched. Some of the lightning strikes were close by: I saw one bolt hit the top of the Austin American-Statesman building and another one strike the field at Auditorium Shores

By 8 PM the storm had moved south of downtown and we even saw a bit of a sunset. Temperatures had dropped from 93 to 73 during just one hour (brrrr!). That storm probably brought an inch or two of much-needed rain to central Texas and more precipitation is  forecast for the coming days…

Ready for the 4th

The Austin Symphony Orchestra is giving a free July 4th concert at the Long Center. Their final number, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, will be accompanied by a fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake. 
This annual Austin tradition was cancelled last year due to the extreme drought conditions. Even though much of the western US is still dry, central Texas had some rain this spring. So Austin’s July 4th celebration will once again include fireworks.  
I have been keeping an eye on the preparations today…
Stage set up at the Long Center? 
Check. 
Tow Away signs posted at Auditorium Shores? 
Check. 
 Port-a-potties in place? 
Check.
Speakers ready to blast downtown Austin? 
Check. 

Memorial Day: 2012

Over 6500 American flags waved in front of the Long Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, honoring those who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This fundraiser was sponsored by Operation Honor Our Heroes, a non-profit established to assisting wounded veterans and their families. Flags could be “sponsored” for $2.00 each. 

Volunteers started tapping the flags into the ground on Sunday afternoon and worked throughout the evening.

This morning around 9 AM I walked back over to the Long Center to watch the Capital of Texas Triathalon and saw that most of flags were set up. They finished just a short time later.
This patriotic display remained in front of the Long Center all afternoon and could be easily seen from the downtown highrises. By sunset this evening, the flags had all been removed.

See You Again Soon, I Hope!

Downtown Austin has a very nice collection of outdoor fountains. Make that “had” a nice collection. Due to the Extreme Drought, our Stage 2 Watering Restrictions started this week. Now we must abide by more water-conservation restrictions including: “No outdoor fountains except to provide aeration for aquatic life.”
So here’s one last lingering look…



Hobby State Office Building 
on Guadalupe and Fourth


Second Street near Malaga


UT System complex 
on Sixth Street




Texas State Capitol

Auditorium Shores 
near Lady Bird Lake 
a few weeks ago…

… and now since the water has been turned off. 




Wildfires

Due to the combination of exceptional drought and high winds from Tropical Storm Lee, wildfires are raging in central Texas near Austin. Since Bill and I now live amidst concrete and hi-rises in downtown Austin, we have not been directly affected. We have several friends who have been evacuated from outlying neighborhoods but thankfully their homes have been spared.

Our downtown apartment faces south and west, with a partial northern view if you lean out over the balcony. Yesterday we could see smoke from the Steiner Ranch fire to the west and from a smaller fire up north. Clouds of smoke from the large Bastrop fire can seen from downtown, although not from our apartment.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are affected by these wildfires as well as firefighters and other emergency workers. And we continue to pray for rain.

Keepin’ Austin Cool

Today marks 70 days of 100°+  temperatures in Austin this year, breaking the previous record set in 2009. Austinites have needed to work extra hard this summer to keep up the city’s “cool factor”… 

Slacklining. Lines are strung between trees, bridge abutments and railings around Lady Bird Lake. And yes, sometimes we see these guys fall into the lake.

Pilates on SUP. These hard-core pilates enthusiasts have impressive balance on their Stand Up Paddleboards. And yes, sometimes we see them accidentally fall off  into the water.

Adidas photo shoot. We wondered what was going on last week when this two-story raft slowly drifted by. And yes, these people jumped into the lake and swam around. (Normally swimming is prohibited in this part of the lake.) 

Bat watching. More kayaks and canoes are around in the evenings since the bats now leave the Congress Avenue bridge well before sunset. I’ve read that the bats are having a harder time finding food at night so they leave earlier in the evening. And yes, often boaters jump into the lake to cool off!