Friday, March 29, 2013

The Lake That is Really a River, And Back to the Airport

I had a leisurely morning today. Dillon woke up late, and decided to skip his Psych class so were able to have breakfast together. After Dillon left for class I finished watching Grey's Anatomy and Scandal on my iPad.

After lunch, I donned my biking attire and headed out to ride the trails along the lake/river. Lady Bird Lake (named after Lady Bird Johnson, of course--this is the land of LBJ) is really just part of the Colorado River (no, not THAT Colorado River). The "lake" used to be called "Towne Lake". I think that is because it sort of runs right through the heart of downtown Austin. Anyway, now it is Lady Bird Lake and there are trails that line both sides.

I started out by riding to the end of Trinity St to get on the trail. There is a large boathouse that rents kayaks and single scull rowing shells. I went down to one of the docks to take a photo. A guy was in a shell out on the lake, but ended up coming back to the dock (it was pretty windy). As I was pulling out my camera, he asked if I would pull him over to the dock. The wind was not allowing him to get close enough to the dock so he could get out of the boat. I did that, took a photo, and continued on my way.

I rode along the path under the Congress St. Bridge. I looked up, but didn't see any of the 1.4 million bats that sleep there during the day (and come out every night--but more about that later). I decided I would ride all the way to the end of the trail. Along the way there were several more watercraft rental places. One could rent, in addition to kayaks and shells, pedal boats, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards. Even though it was windy and mostly cloudy, it was around 80 degrees. There were a lot of people out on the lake.

At the westernmost end of the trail, there is a pedestrian bridge that runs under the traffic bridge above. It is the Roberta Crenshaw Pedestrian Bridge. A perfect way to cross the lake (since it is really a river, you can't go around)! I crossed to the other side and rode back toward downtown.

I had, pretty much, got on the trail in the middle. So, when I rode back, I kept going beyond the point at which I had gotten on (only now on the other side). I rode back under the Congress St. Bridge (still no bats, but I could smell the guano) and continued to the easternmost part of the trail. For a short distance, I had to go out to Riverside St. because the trail was closed for construction. I picked it up again off Lakeshore Dr. The eastern end of the trail is a ballpark that also has a frisbee golf course. Also, at this point, the "lake" returns to being a river. The Pleasant Valley Bridge is actually a dam that created the lake. The trail went slightly beyond the dam. At the Frisbee Golf Course, I turned around and rode back to the Pleasant Valley Bridge where I crossed back to the other side.

I, once again, headed back toward downtown. Along the way I met a guy from Killeen named Barry. He had come up specifically to ride the trail. Killeen is about an hour drive. Turns out he had spent some time in Olympia (it's such a small world). He bought his Kona bike there!

We rode together, chatting, back to the point where I had gotten on the trail. Since I still had time, I continued riding with him back to Congress where we went up and crossed the bridge to the other side. This time, however, we stayed on Barton Springs Rd. When we got to the Barton Springs Park, Barry told me there was a spring-fed pool across the road. We went over and had a look at it. It was closed today, but Barry said he heard it was supposed to open tomorrow. It looked like a great place to swim on a hot Texas day! It only costs $2.00. There are also botanical gardens and a nature center at the park. Quite the hoppin' place!

I left Barry at the pool area as it was time for me to head to the airport to meet Christian. His flight was due to get in at 5:20 (I would get there around 6:00 as he needed to set up his bike just like I had to do with Betsy). I wanted to stop and eat along the way. I reversed the route I had taken on Wednesday for part of the way back, but then went over to Riverside instead of Montopolis at Willow Creek. At the humongous intersection of Pleasant Valley and Riverside, I spied a Subway. Unfortunately, it was kitty-corner from where I was. It took forever for the crosswalk signal to change, but I finally made it to the other corner. I ate my dinner and filled up one of my water bottles with ice and water to give to Christian.

I got back to the correct direction of Riverside, and rode it all the way to Ben White Blvd. Now came the not-fun part of riding on shoulder-less Ben White Blvd through the nasty interchange with Hwy 183 at rush-hour. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad (it had to help that I was riding in the daylight instead of the dark)! I also took the cargo/cell lot exit, then got back on, now, Hwy 71, which made it easier.

As I arrived at the terminal, I was about to go inside, when I saw Christian's orange panniers at the next door over. I rode over to him. I was so happy to see he had made it and everything was okay!

Christian finished putting everything together and we headed out to, for me, once again run the gauntlet-of-danger of Ben White Blvd. We rode back to Riverside and then rode Riverside all the way back to where we could get on the trail along the lake.

We wanted to see the bats come out from under the Congress St. Bridge, so we stopped when we got to the bridge and waited. Tons of people were gathering both below in the park, and on the bridge sidewalk. We went up on the bridge because, two years ago, when Dillon, his roommate's family, and I came to see the bats, we found we could see them better from on the bridge.

We had to wait about 45 minutes before they slowly started coming out. Once they began in earnest, it was something to see! Hundreds of thousands of bats came out in waves! They all took off to the Southeast. Once they flew past the trees and higher into the sky, it looked like sardines swimming as they swooped up and around as a group. At one point, a bird came flying along. It flew through the mass of bats, scattering them. Clearly, the bird was doing this on purpose because it did it several times. I have no idea why the bird was doing that, but it sure looked like it was having fun!

Once most of the bats had flown, Christian and I continued on to Dillon's. Although we took the same route I had taken on Wednesday, it was vastly different on Friday. There was music blasting out of every honky tonk along Red River St. Of course, the bulk of the music was in the area of 6th Ave. A couple of blocks of Red River were blocked off by police. We rode on through (advantage of being on bikes). It was quite fun listening to all the different music as we rode along! It was a great taste of some of the Austin music scene.

We got to Dillon's apartment and brought all of Christian's stuff up the stairs. We made ourselves at home having some Blue Bell ice cream. Dillon arrived later (he'd been practicing at the music building). Christian and I have taken over most of the living room what with our two bikes and 8 panniers.

Below are a few photos from the day and the bats.

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