March 05, 2012

Go Fly a Kite…in Austin!

After several laid back days at the Grasslands we hit the road once more. I’d had ample time to read about the state of Texas, and was very excited about getting to see what is known as the Hill Country (basically Austin and good portion west of Austin). This region is supposed to be pretty different from the rest of the state of Texas because of its green rolling hills and plentiful wildflowers (as opposed to the flat, mostly dry farm land). We were not disappointed when we drove in as immediately you could tell a difference. Everything did green up, and all of a sudden Fiona (our truck) was shifting into lower gears to get us up the slopes. Our first impression of Austin was that it reminded us of California, which if you know us, that’s a very big plus!

Our overnight parking spot was at the First Evangelical Free Church in South Austin. On our way into town we’d stopped at a McDonalds (gotta love the 2 for $1 pies, free coffee refills and FREE WIFI!), and did some recognizance on places to stay. The first church we called offered a much better location (right next to the Greenbelt Trail), but they turned us down siting insurance reasons. We then called our second choice, and their answer was once again “Sure, not a problem, see you soon!”. SWEET! The church turned out to be a private day school, and had amazing grounds, although the spot where we were directed to park was at the farthest extremity of the parking lot and provided no shade. But hey, you can’t beat free…

Our boondocking spot at the Evangelical Church
(incognito behind the tiny trailer next to us)
That night we explored the Austin's 6th street district, the warehouse district and the Capitol. Jay and Jen, friends of ours from college had sent an amazing itinerary of places we should visit, and we had a good time perusing their favorite haunts.

Austin downtown from Zilker Park
Skyler, in the 6th street district
Saturday we went downtown to catch the Farmer’s Market, and stumbled upon the Texas Independence Day parade, as well as the Austin Rowing Regatta. 

Sky, buying some Caraway Cheddar at the Austin Farmer's Market
Sky enjoyed some soccer at Zilker Park later that afternoon, and then we met Jay and Jen and their super cute baby boy Wesley for dinner at Mandola’s Italian restaurant. After dinner we drove up to Mount Bonnell, a spot similar to Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville, with its sweeping views of the Austin. I’m pretty sure it’s also the make-out spot in town as there were plenty of couples in the park. :o)

Wesley, Jen, Jay and us at the Mandola's restaurant
Sunday was the 84th annual Kite Festival in Austin, so we packed a picnic and headed down there. It was an awesome site, there must have been at least 1,000 kites there. I don’t think I saw two kites that were alike. The festival had contests going all day long- the largest kite, the smallest kite, the most unique kite, etc.

Austin's Kite Festival
Someone brought their pet macaw, Boyd, to the park.
Here is a video I shot at the Kite Festival:

We spent most of the day at the festival and then hiked our way back to our car along the Barton Springs Greenbelt. Along the greenbelt is the Barton Springs public pool. For $3 you can swim year-round in this natural springs pool where the water temperature barely varies between low 70s and upper 60s. We might be hitting that up later this week.  
The Barton Springs Greenbelt trail
We’d originally planned to stay in Austin a couple of days, but with the plethora of things we've found to do, we think we’ll be here through at least this Sunday, if not longer.

More pictures of Austin can be found here.

Happy Austin exploring,


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  1. Looks like the kite festival was fun! This is definitely the right time of year for weather here. Glad you guys are enjoying Austin!

  2. ahhh good ol Austin. When I was there there was a place just outside of the main park area of Barton Springs where you could swim for free..but it's been awhile..