Austin is almost nothing like we expected it to be. That’s not bad or good, but a good lesson that having expectations is a fruitless endeavor because reality is rarely like what we’ve come up with in our heads.
Leo Babauta of zenhabits.com says:
What’s a life without expectations like? It means you accept reality as it is, and people as they are, without expectations, without trying to force people into the containers you have for them, seeing things as they are.
We tried putting the city of Austin into one of these containers based on what we had heard about it. Shame on us! As one example, we both imagined the whole area being really flat. Not true. There are hills all around that make you feel like you’re in California. We also both imagined Austin being a quaint city with large pedestrian areas, not much traffic, and a hippie vibe (based on the tie dye “Keep Austin Weird” t-shirts I used to see in airport gift stores). Are there components of these things? Sure. However, the reality is Austin is like most modern, sprawling cities. Lots of new construction, lots of traffic, lots of suburban housewives in $70,000 SUV’s, and mostly chain restaurants & stores that you find all over the country. Of the thousands of people I saw in Austin, I noticed just four that were visibly hippie. That’s a pretty small percentage, but that’s not to say there weren’t many more inwardly hippie folks that snuck below my “let’s stereotype some hippies” radar. I saw very little of this supposed Austin weirdness either, but maybe we avoided the weird section by accident. In all fairness, we were there a couple of days so despite our best efforts we only saw a fraction of the city.
Austin is a very nice city with lots going on, but I’m vowing to show up next time without so many ideas in my head of how the city should be and let it be beautiful for what it is.
The Texas capitol building was gorgeous. We took a Halloween “Rest in Peace” tour of the capitol where we were told about all the people who have died in or around the building. That lasted until iola decided it was nap time about halfway through the tour.
I’m starting to sense a star theme around Texas.
Hoards of people stand on and below the Congress Ave. bridge to view the huge number of Mexican free-tail bats that leave their home under the bridge at sunset for a night on the town, each and every night, before they migrate to Mexico. The internet never lies, and it says there are 1,500,000 bats living under that bridge. Insane, but very cool to watch, and the timing right before Halloween couldn’t have been better.
I’m too lazy to carry around a tripod, so don’t expect good nighttime bat pictures out of this guy. Click the picture to make it bigger and you’ll at least get the idea.
Last, but most important, any place on earth feels more comfortable when you know someone there. Our friends were nice enough to lend us their home and iola was more excited playing with her new friend, albeit seven years her elder, than she has been in a long time.