Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Climbery, Wrong Turnery, and Finery

Happy Easter from Austin!

Yes, we are still in Austin. This morning as we took off for our daily exploration, I had this feeling that I now live here. I've become so familiar with downtown--it's time to check out a new area!

Dillon recommended we go to Mt. Bonnell. Using the Austin bike map, we decided on the best route. We would take the Lance Bikeway again to the end, then get on the Lake Austin Rd. At the end of the bikeway, the road we planned to get on appeared to be quite busy. I consulted the map and discovered another trail we could take.

First we had to ride to the western end of the Butler Trail. From there we crossed the road and got on the Johnson Trail. It wound around and allowed us to bypass the busiest of the roads. At the end of the tail we were dumped out onto the road. We followed the road to Scenic Rd. where we turned right. As we were riding on Scenic Rd, I heard a whole bunch of buzzing. Next thing I know, I'm riding right through a whole lotta bees. I shouted, "BEES!" to Christian. Believe it or not, I kind of slowed down (to not disturb them as much?) and continued to ride through. Christian followed right behind me. Neither of us were stung. I'm not sure if it was a nest, or what. I didn't stick around to find out!

Somewhere just beyond the bees, we missed a turn. According to the map, we were supposed to stay on Scenic all the way to Pecos St. Instead, we ended up taking our own "scenic" route (the "scenic mansion" route to be precise--there is some SERIOUS money living there!) that involved much going up and down of hills! Most were short, but all were pretty steep. After awhile, it seemed we were going in circles (lost track of how many times we saw Rockmoor St.). Finally, we came to a street that was on the map as part of the route. Okay! We are back on track! Uh...not so fast. We came to the end of one road. We still were not on Scenic. I looked at the map and thought we should turn right. We ended up back at Rockmoor! At this point the lightbulb came on (sometimes it takes awhile!) and I pulled out my phone. I opened up Google maps to see exactly where we were. Ahhhh...we should have turned left! We turned around. When we got back to where we had made the wrong turn, I realized if only we had looked more closely to the right, I would have seen the sign for Scenic Rd. (this is a lesson I seem to never learn)!

Now we were truly back on track but...not for long. After going up the steepest hill of the day (kept popping little wheelies on Betsy in Super Granny gear), we made it to Pecos. Correct turn this time took us to Balcones for another correct turn (amazing...two correct turns in a row!). Then, apparently, it was time to make another wrong turn. The map showed a road called Edgemont. We came to Edgemont. There was only one way to turn, so we did. As we went along Edgemont, I started to get the idea something was not right. When we came to the top of another big downhill, I stopped and pulled out my phone again. I wanted to make sure we were going the right way before we went down the big hill only to find out we would have to come back up. Good plan! A couple of people jogged by and asked if we had a problem. We told them we wanted to go to Mt. Bonnell. They said we needed to turn around (of course we did!) and go back to Balcones, go left, then left again on Mt. Bonnell Dr. When we did that, we saw the Edgemont that the map was showing. We made it the rest of the way to Mt. Bonnell without any more wrong turns (I'm sure that's only because we were so close by that time).

The view from Covert Park at Mt. Bonnell was worth the ride. Mt. Bonnell is the highest point within the city limits of Austin. Off in the distance was the Pennybacker Bridge to the northwest. We walked up to the monument for the mountain. Just beyond, we could see downtown Austin to the southeast. Photos are below.

We...okay...I had packed a lunch of a bagel, some almond butter and an apple (Christian packed a Snickers bar). We ate at a picnic table (I gave Christian part of my bagel).

Dillon had also told us about peacocks at Mayfield Park. Mayfield Park was at the bottom of the mountain. After making sure we would not have to do some big-ass climb back up, we decided to go ahead and seek out these peacocks--sure to be in their Easter finery.

The road we came DOWN was steeper than the steepest hill we had gone up. I have no doubt that had we gone that way up, I would have, for only the second time EVER (the first being the night I arrived), had to walk my bike! Even though I had to brake because there was a sharp turn at the bottom, I would have braked anyway--it was THAT steep!

We came out at Mayfield Park (woo hoo!--no wrong turns). When we pulled into the parking lot, I could already hear the peacocks. First, though, we walked a trail around the park. I told Christian if I saw a snake, the next thing he knew, I would be sitting on his shoulders, and he would have NO IDEA how I got there! Fortunately, we saw no snakes.

The peacocks were all in the trees or on the roof of the building. There were several males and a number of white females. One male was strutting his stuff on the roof, his feather finery on display (I'm sure not for our benefit). After a number of photos, we returned to our bikes. We decided on the most direct route back to Dillon's apartment. The map showed one 3-arrow hill we would have to go up. After the other hills we had ridden, we were a little nervous. Well, it wasn't that bad. We decided, if that was a 3-arrow hill, some of the other hills must have been 4 or 5-arrow hills!

At a stop light, I asked Christian if we saw a Starbucks, would he like a coffee? The poor boy hadn't had any coffee yet, and after all the hills, I thought he might like a pick-me-up. He thought that was a good idea, and was the first to spot a Starbucks in a Randall's (Safeway for Texas).

After the coffee break, we rode the relatively short distance back to Dillon's. The sky had been darkening and, just as we turned onto Dillon's street, it started to rain. We timed that just right!

I made a good Easter dinner (I think I used almost every dish Dillon and Andrew have) of Pork Tenderloin, steamed broccoli, tomato, cucumber, and avocado salad, cantaloupe, pineapple, and topped it off with pecan pie and Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. After all the hills today, we earned it!

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