In late May 2015, I traveled to Austin. My mission was to site-monitor the DASH 7 Puzzle Hunt. But I gave myself a few days before and after to look around.
This was not a typical time in Austin. A few days earlier, heavy rains had gone through, leading to floods, the worst in several decades. Later on I talked with a friend who lost the home she'd grown up in Houston in that flood. By the time I got there, the floods had receded, but folks were still shaken up and there were some scattered spots that were still being cleaned up.
Walked downtown and through UT Austin campus. Met with Kenzie and Kimmy of DASH Game Control at Taco Joint, where I demonstrated my lack of taco-eating skills. (As a San Franciscan, I've been spoiled by legions of professional burrito rollers; the idea that I might have to manipulate my tacos to keep their fillings from escaping was novel.)
I walked through UT Austin some more, through downtown. I walked past the local Sierra Club HQ, which bore a sign "CONSERVE OUR WATER SUPPLY", which sounded ironic after a flood. (I later learned Austin was recovering from a few years' drought, so it wasn't so ironic, actually.) I crossed the bridge. down to South Congress ("soco")… and then it started pouring and I beat a hasty retreat back north, getting soaked (but protecting my electronics from drowning, yay), and finally catching a taxi back to the motel.
I sat around in my motel room, letting my clothes hang and dry. After a while, I thought to look outside. It was bright and sunny out, as if the rain had never happened. I put on my damp clothes, and made a little foray in east Austin, eventually dining at Kebabalicious (the restaurant and home to the fleet of food trucks). My clothes were dry. More wandering in nearby east Austin. A lot with food trucks advertised itself as a SXSW Event Space. I walked around Texas State Cemetary, back to the motel, slept.
I walked through east Austin. It was around 7:00 in the morning and Franklin's BBQ didn't open until around 11:00, but there were already people lined up. Fortunately, I wasn't going there. I broke my fast at Juan in a Million; then back through east Austin and then to downtown's visitor center. I took a van tour of Austin and a bit of the nearby Hill Country since that seemed like my best bet for seeing the Hill Country without a car. One of the Hill Country sights was Lord British's castle. After the tour, I walked down to South Congress again, this time with no rain to chase me away. South Congress had design-y shops; felt halfway between Texas and Haight Street.
I wandered up through downtown to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Then I let Munzees tell me where to walk for a while, and saw more of downtown and the Capitol grounds. I tried to figure out what percentage of central Austin's area was given over to indoor/outdoor drinking establishments, but gave up. I saw more storm damage. A sign announced that Lamar St was a StormReday Community 2005-2008. Maybe if they'd stuck with that (whatever it means) for another seven years, not so many businesses would have been mucking out their buildings? Maybe. At night fall, I crossed the Congress Ave Bridge and watched the bats emerge.
I headed to UT Austin campus to help run DASH 7, which I gave its own set of photos. Afterwards, I walked back to the motel through sprinkling, delightfully cool, rain.
Sunday, I let the Munzees tell me where to walk. I walked amongst government buildings near the capitol. I headed west so that I could fail to finish a huge brunch at Magnolia Cafe. Letting the Munzees direct me again, I went to the Amtrak station.
I woke up before dawn and meandered through east Austin to Bennu, a 24-hour cafe. I took a last walk through UT Austin and the Capitol grounds before it was time to check out and catch the 100 bus back to the airport.
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