Let’s start with this: It’s been 90 degrees daily while Julie and I stayed for 4 nights and 3 days in Austin, Texas with Brother Kerry on our cross-country tour. On our first morning here, I agreed to go with Kerry on his morning walk. Ever since I decided to “retire” I’ve been too busy to exercise on any regular basis. Add to that the many goodbye lunches and dinners I’ve attended, I’m not at all fit. The walk through Kerry’s neighborhood had many hills. I returned in a very tired state after a 3-mile walk.
After lunch we toured the Texas State History Museum. We learned everything one would need to know to understand why Texans believe they rule the world. (Just kidding again. We learned a lot.) We next went on a bike ride around the lake. What initially seemed like an innocent ride around a lake turned into a physical nightmare for me. The goal was 10 miles. The trail was mostly small rocks and too hilly for me. And let’s remember the temperature. 90 degrees. I had to cut the trip down to 7 miles. My muscles were sore and weakened. My back and shoulder muscles were already in knots. We later walked to Zilker Park for a free evening concert. Listening to the local singers with national fame seemed to be secondary to the concert experience itself. People-watching was our main activity. I learned that young people wear less clothes in Austin than Indianapolis. We slept well that night.
On Thursday, Kerry thought it a good idea for us to PADDLE BOARD on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin—the same lake we biked around on Wednesday. Neither Julie nor I had ever paddle boarded before. Might I interject here that Julie has a hairline fracture on her foot which she closed the car door on (in the exact location of the break) on the first day of our trip. Surprisingly neither of us fell off our boards, but I wouldn’t count our experiences as successes either. I did stand up on the board, then I was afraid to get back down. The leg and foot muscles used trying to stay balanced were intense and hurtful. I did stand and paddle and paddled from a knee’ed position as well. Unless coerced, I don’t think I’ll be paddle boarding again any time soon, although. I walked with weak legs and exhausted body again.
We next went to experience The Escape Room where we entered a small Gold Rush room together with five strangers, including three Montana cowboy teenagers and two California women. We had to find clues, utilize the clues to find other clues to utilize other clues to get 3 pieces of gold in the Gold Rush. [We started out the 3 days doing Texas things and then transitioned to California activities, e.g. the Gold Rush activity.] We had dinner at a local favorite taco place: Torchy’s. (Barack Obama ate there when he came into town) I had a fried avocado taco and a portabello mushroom taco—both excellent. Amy’s famous ice cream came next and then we watched the famous million bats fly out to forage the countryside at sunset. People come from everywhere to watch the amazing scene from the Congress Avenue Bat Bridge. Again, we returned home just exhausted.
Today, we started the day early to lessen the effect of the high temperatures. We hiked miles in Balcones Canyonland National Refuge. Kerry normally does the hike in half the time, but we must remember that he just hiked up and down Mount Kilimanjaro with Brother Pat less than 2 years ago. The trail was very rocky and sometimes rough. The hike was mostly in the sun and I frequently had to rest in the shade of some smaller trees. The steady incline and the stifling heat wore me out as the birds serenaded us with every step. As much as I tried to show a courageous face, it seemed the accumulation of the strenuous activity this week got the best of me. My legs felt like mush after our three hour hike.
We finished the ‘California’ part of the visit by watching Straight Outta Compton for our Friday night movie. Kerry packed our days solid with fun activities and worked very hard so we could get the real flavor of Austin–“Keep Austin Weird.” He was the best tour guide ever.
Julie and I are heading out again this morning. We have to drive all day and we will still be in Texas at the end of the day—in El Paso. We have five days and four nights to go!