It’s Bats, Man!

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na…

This has been an incredible last few days for witnessing awe-inspiring natural phenomena for your friendly neighborhood Realtor here.  Although Monday’s solar eclipse was both far bigger and way more rare an occurrence, Tuesday night I finally got to experience firsthand one of our local marvels — the emergence of Austin’s bat colony for their evening feeding!

Bats emerging from under the South Congress Bridge – August 22, 2017

For those unaware, Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America.  While we actually have several colonies around the Austin area, the most famous is the one living under the South Congress Bridge, and the best views are to be had on a bat cruise, which is how I got to experience it. (Shout outs to Premier Nationwide Lending and Capital Cruises for providing us a wonderful evening of tasty eats, adult beverages and amazing bat watching!)

Click here if you’d like to read a little more about our local bats and where and when to best see them; otherwise, I’ll just let the video below speak for itself.  (Note, you don’t really need sound for the video.  You’ll mostly hear a lot of Realtors and lenders exclaiming in awe — surprisingly, the bats themselves are pretty much silent!)

Amazing, no?  If you’re looking for a cool experience to share with visitors, or if you’re a local like me who has never done it before (WHY did I wait SO LONG?!) I can’t recommend an Austin bat boat tour highly enough!  It really is incredible.

 

Springtime in Central Texas

Time to get your bluebonnets on

I absolutely love living in Austin, and especially so at this time of year.  I love seeing the live oak, cedar and pecan trees get their leaves back, and all the gorgeous wildflowers come out alongside Texas’ back roads and highways (thanks, Lady Bird Johnson).  Taking pictures of your children in a glorious field of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush is pretty much an obligatory exercise for local parents, as my Facebook feed will attest to every year at this time.

Central Texas Flower Child

On a particularly fetching day last week I decided to play hooky (or do “location scouting” as I like to call it) and headed out with my camera for a road trip throughout the surrounding Hill Country area just to see what all was abloom.

Back road in Burnet County

I got off the main highway just outside of town and made my way up and down whatever roads struck my fancy.  These horses grazing in a field of bright yellow caused me to stop in the middle of the road to take their picture — of course, part of the beauty of traveling on back roads means you can easily get away with this.

Ponies & wildflowers

The first part of the day was overcast but the clouds still made for some dramatic scenery.

Windmill & wildflowers

The afternoon skies were perfect and blue with scattered puffy clouds, which made for some cool lighting.  The shadows playing on this field as I was driving past caught my eye.

Live oak trees, cloud shadows and green fields

Staying on the back roads I made my way past the Pedernales River, which was flowing nicely and looked very inviting.  (Yes, I also stopped in the middle of the bridge to take this picture.)

Crossing the Pedernales River

While much of my day was spent going wherever the road took me, I did have one destination picked out for certain: Hamilton Pool Preserve, which, if you’ve never been, NEEDS to be on your list of places to check out in the Austin area!  It was my first time to go, and it’s an amazing spot.

Hamilton Pool

If you’re unfamiliar, Hamilton Pool is a natural spring, appropriately located just outside Austin in Dripping Springs, Texas.  Jade green in color, it’s fed by an underground river and is surrounded by lush growth, making for an inviting spot for hiking, swimming or just hanging out.  The remains of a natural dome that covered the grotto before its collapse more than a century ago provides a deep shady overhang, complete with waterfall.  It really creates a stunning display, and makes me wish I were a better photographer to be able to truly capture the beauty of the area.

Behind the main waterfall at Hamilton Pool

Depending on certain bacteria levels the pool is not always open for swimming, which was the case when I went. But when swimming is allowed it is quite a popular swimming hole!  There is a bright white sandy beach area, which stands in stark contrast to the green water and  blue sky.

Hamilton Pool, taken from the beach area

It’s only about a 30-40 minute drive from Austin, and to get down to the pool there is a relatively easy 1/4 mile or so hike from where you park.  If you’re visiting during the months of May – September you must make a reservation to get in, and outside of those times you may run into a waiting line on the weekends as only a certain number of visitors are allowed in to the preserve at any given time.  But if you do like me and go mid-week in April you can pretty much waltz right on in, which is why I’m kind of ashamed of myself for not having gone before this. (Travel note: bring cash or a local check to pay the $15 parking fee; they do not accept plastic and the nearest ATM is 5 miles away.)

Again I’ll say, if you haven’t gone do make a point to do so.  You won’t be disappointed.

Sunset on a back road

I wrapped up my day’s adventure at sunset, thoroughly pleased with the whole outing and especially happy to visit some new places.  We are so fortunate to have so many gorgeous sites to visit right in our back yard — it makes me even more glad to live where I do, and to have a job where I can take advantage of them from time to time!

Happy trails, y’all!

 

Austin by Night

Out after dark

My friend Glen, who is an amazing photographer and a bit of a night owl, sent me some really beautiful nighttime shots he took around the city that I have to share.

So without further ado…

Check out this shot of the Austin skyline.  It was taken on the shores of Town Lake, with the South 1st Street Bridge in the near distance.  I love the lights, and the color of the sky:

This is our State Capitol building in downtown Austin:

And one of my all time favorites is this shot of the statue of Austin’s own musical legend Stevie Ray Vaughn (may he rest in peace) at Auditorium Shores on Town Lake:

And there’s this one, highlighting some of the more colorful places on 6th Street, a part of downtown Austin known for its drinking establishments and live music venues as well as body piercing/tattoo shops, which can be an often under-appreciated side effect of  a night of serious drinking:

And finally, a local landmark known for its hipster (way before it was hip) style, phallic-shaped neon sign, and its amusing and oft-changing readerboard — the Austin Motel on South Congress:

Austin is an extremely photogenic city.  It’s a cityscape photographer’s dream, especially when viewed during the hours when most folks are still tucked away at home in their jammies.

I love seeing my city in a way I almost never do, and I hope y’all enjoyed as well.  Thanks, Glen!

Photography credits:
Glen Thuncher
Thuncher Photography