August 16

Windy and Darnelle picked me up at the Austin airport and we went straight to this diner, Sawyer & Co., that was a massively entertaining flash from the past and the food was really good too.

I shared with Windy and our choice included blue cheese grits just so we knew where we were. We had fried green tomatoes for appetizer and chocolate pecan pie for dessert.
Reflectos in the bathroom.
We stopped off at the condo, and that's the State Capitol building from the pool deck...
...before heading off to the Central Market just in time for the Hatch Chili Festival. These are Hatch chilis.
And Hatch chili cheese. We bought Hatch chili chips and Hatch chili hummus. There were many dozens of Hatch chili products available including bread and pastries, various dips, salads, sauces and marinades, everything, and they all made me smile.
The center of our view from the condo.

The Frost Bank Tower AKA Owlbert Frost, designed by Duda/Paine Architects, LLP and HKS, Inc. and dedicated in January 2004... changes dramatically, especially the top, based on the light around it.
Here's pretty much the full view from the condo...
...and looking down to the amenities of our building.
August 17

I walked down to the Visitor's Center at 9am in the 85 degree heat to meet up with Windy and Darnelle for a city tour which was both delightful and informative. The guide was so charming and she answered every question with authority.

This is the Texas State Capitol Building. "Designed in 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, it was constructed from 1882 to 1888... A $75 million underground extension was completed in 1993. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1986."

My favorite part is when the guide talked about the cladding material: Texas Sunset Red Granite. She said it many times and I smiled every time. Texas Sunset Red Granite. It really is gorgeous.
My second favorite part was the dome so high the Statue of Liberty could stand without hitting the top.
Texas has a long and storied history of names and flags represented in the floor of the capitol.
We were twelve, an ok size for a tour group.
Another view of the capitol with a close-up of the Goddess of Liberty that sits on top.

When we were ready to leave the van the guide advised that anyone who had a gun and didn't have an updated open carry license with them should leave their gun in the van.

WHAT?! Guns in the van?! Oh, did I forget I was in Texas?! Apparently so.
My least favorite street art - set aside some walls and go for it. And even though it's my least favorite I enjoyed it anyway! It's called Hope Outdoor Gallery.
They're planning to move the space out of this residential area to a spot by the airport and build new walls for painting.
Maybe they'd take some of these walls too but the plan has been kicked around for years and nothing has happened yet, all this according to the guide.
We toured some neighborhoods and heard stories and had a frozen banana treat from one of the thousands of food trucks. The food trucks here don't travel though, they live permanently in food truck courts.

Another view of the capitol. Up until 1972 no building in Austin was taller than the capitol. Everyone who lived here before 1972 is obsessed with how it's not like it was in this town. Maybe everyone who lives in Austin is obsessed with how it's not like it was. It seems Austin is more an idea in people's mind of what was rather than what is...something like that.
Map origami. I want to remember.
A city landmark, the Greetings from Austin postcard.
Tour over, we went by Darnelle's house and then walked down the block for another delicious southern diner meal. Darnelle pointed out a man and said 'I think that's Mr Hoover over there'. So I asked the server, and yes it was, and so I asked him if I could take his picture.

Of course, I'd be delighted he replied, so we went to the sign and here he is Mr Hoover himself.
Next we did a swing by the LBJ Presidential Library.
My relationship with LBJ was of course complicated as it was for everyone of my generation. The Great Society, Civil Rights...Vietnam. Now he looks like a giant.
Oh lookie here, the cabinet in LBJ's final days. Old white men.
Across the street from our condo - Moolah, on the porch of a house for lease. I trust the cow comes with the lease.
Catty-corner from the cow is this club that was RAGING. Millennials, according to Darnelle 'it's all about the millennials in this town'.

We walked down 6th Street, one of the happening spots in Austin (but not THE happening spot any more we learned) and this was Friday night where every place was so loud and so packed we couldn't imagine going in. Finally we went into a coffee shop in a fancy hotel with the other old people and had a super-tasty snack and rest in the refreshing A/C and we were happy.
We decided to Lyft back to the condo and this was the view where we were waiting.
August 18

Yes! 8-18-18 and Lainee is getting her official teaching credential. Ms Lainee gets her very own fourth grade class!
Lainee's mom Judy, grandma Netta, husband Travis, daughter Cali, mother-in-law Windy, and son Jack. YAY Lainee!
After the graduation we came back to the condo for pizza and salad. That's a telephoto shot down to the pool. We entertain ourselves often watching the mating dance of the pool-pals.
Travis and Jack joined right in.
Then we six were off to watch the BATS as they emerge from their nesting grounds in the Congress Bridge. At this time of year there are about 1,500,000 bats. It's unbelievable except I do believe it because that's what the guide said.

They're here from March to October arriving from Mexico to birth their young.

This very day is the biggest bat day of all - Bat Fest with the whole Congress Bridge shut down for bat themed activities. You can see the crowd beginning to gather up there. We decided to take a quiet little boat not wanting to jostle for a view.

I gave Jack my camera and he was having some fun snapping pictures. I'm pretty sure the one above is his and I know he did this one. He did several pictures of his gorgeous mom.

A smidge of the skyline. From the map it looks like there are a lot of waterways in the Austin area. There's a Colorado River nowhere near Colorado, Lady Bird Lake, etc.
The bats don't come out until dusk because the sun hurts their eyes.
Here they come!
WOW, sososo many bats. Rivers of bats, tornados...
...clouds of bats.
Our guide, as lovely as the first guide. We have been having excellent guide karma.
After the bats we walked a few blocks for dessert at Threadgill's. Then we got a Lyft back home and with hugs and kisses said hasta luego as the Blacks were driving back to Houston in the morning.
I got this from someone's phone, I forget exactly, maybe Cali took the selfie? But it was from today and when Travis saw it he asked Windy, his mom, 'how did I get so lucky?'.

I was telling my story about guns on the tourist van and Cali said oh, I shoot guns and showed me this picture of her. Yikes. Then Travis said, oh, I'll show you something I have that's way more likely to kill you than a gun, and he showed me this picture of his bike.

August 19

Darnelle took us over to the University of Texas, Austin today first to visit the Ransom Center where she worked for forty years. These etched windows represent some of the artists, collections, and specific works housed here.
In a hall of her own this Frida Kahlo picture, the one with the monkey and the cat, is featured and you can step so close to it, I was pretty awestruck.

Maybe I've never seen a Freda Kahlo picture close-up? I don't remember, but seeing this was worth the trip to Austin. No pictures allowed so I got this photo in the gift shop.

There was also an Ed Ruscha exhibit that I enjoyed very much and they have a prominently displayed Guttenberg Bible that was interesting to see.
There are Windy and Darnelle in the middle left and the tower that Charles Whitman made famous.
A close-up of the fountain...
...and a close-up of the top of the tower.
Another view of the capitol building and the building we see from the condo...and scooters, so many scooters.
Next stop another museum on the UT campus, this one the Blanton Museum of Art. These are the stairs that lead to the gallery.
They were having an exhibit called Ancestral Modern, Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection.

I walked quickly through looking for work from my guy. He wasn't represented but there were several pieces from his part of the country and a few in a similar style. Here's one.
A work by Cildo Meireles from Rio de Janeiro commissioned for an exhibition about the history of the Jesuits in southern Brazil.

"The artist created a contemplative space that functions as a critique of Jesuit missions established during colonial times to contain the indigenous Tupi-GuaranĂ­ people and conver them to Catholicism.

"The work's symbolic elements reveal the complicit relationship between material power (coins), spiritual power (communion wafers), and tradegy (bones), while the black shroud and overhead lighting evoke ideas of life and death.

"Meireles' use of cattle bones references the importance of ranching within the region's colonial economy. Yet the bones' physical resemblance to the human femur also alludes to the human losses associated with forced acculturation."
The coins are US pennies which makes me wonder if that's what the artist used in Brazil.
Ellsworth Kelly has a whole small building, a chapel in shape although not in purpose except that his intention is for it to be a meditation place.

Then we went back to the condo and off and on all night ate left-overs and treats from the refrigerator.
August 20

I'm going home this afternoon so to top off the trip we decided to have a foot massage that we all enjoyed very much.
Then we had a farewell lunch at the original Threadgill's, home of Austin music from the thirty's on, and whose claim to fame is the formidable...
...Janis Joplin who began her career here.
Last look at the cool condo and Austin skyline. 'Till next time!
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