March 11, 2012

Out and About in Austin

We were very pleasantly surprised with Austin as a whole. I feel like we spent most of the days fruitfully exploring sites, and that there is still plenty of unexplored ground left. We had great access to the city by highway from the McKinney Falls state park, and contrary to what we’d heard, Austin’s road systems were not too congested and were pretty easy to get around on. 

We started Wednesday morning with a hike on the Homestead trail at the state park. This turned out to be an unpaved, single track trail through lush grassy forest that took us by several ruins of the old McKinney homestead. After this hike I remarked to Skyler that we should start all of our days with a hike, it was that refreshing. After lunch we continued our quest to find me a bike. We stopped by the Pedal Pushers in East Austin. We didn’t find a bike there, but did get a great recommendation to walk a few blocks south to a local coffee roaster, the Texas Coffee Traders. There we were given a free tour of their roasting process, as well as helpful information on how to use our French press more effectively.

A coffee bean roasting machine
Coffee beans waiting to be roasted
On the way to our lunch spot we hit up the Bike Farm. I had pictured a pasture full of bikes, with cheap prices. We did find the pasture, but not the cheap prices.

The Bike Farm
Sky, eating a dried banana at the top of Mnt. Bonnell 
Mnt. Bonnell, the highpoint in the city that offers a great view of downtown and the river, was where we stopped to eat a picnic lunch, and then on our way out of the park, we stumbled on a hidden gem. The Mayfield Preserve was not written about in any of the guidebooks I’d read on Austin. Neither was it mentioned on the city’s To Do itinerary. I can see how Austin would want to keep this place quiet and all to themselves now that we have been there. The Mayfield preserve is free, and consists of a very nice botanical garden and large forested grounds that offer very nice hiking trails. The botanical garden is full of free roaming peacocks. I would say this was probably one of my most favorite spots in Austin. 

Peacocks roam the botanical gardens at the Mayfield Preserve
The gardens at the Mayfield Preserve
Hiking at the Mayfield Nature Preserve
Thursdays are free admission days at the Blanton Museum. We headed over to the University of Texas campus, where the museum is located, and grabbed some coffee and walked the campus. After lunch, we visited the museum, and then met Yair and Ayo, our new travel blogging friends, and spent the evening with them.
UT campus in Austin
Inside the Blanton Museum 
An awesome exhibit at the Blanton Museum:
600,000 pennies, 800 communion wafers, and 2,000 cattle bones 
Friday was pouring rain, so we stayed in and read books and played games. At some point I decided that I’d had plenty of coffee and needed to run some energy off. I had set out to do 3-4 miles, and the first 3 were pretty painful on the IT band, but around mile 4, a great song came on, the rain started pouring, and my IT pain fell away. I ended up running 6 miles total, with the last two under 8 minute pace. IT WAS EPIC. :o)

The rainy weather over our last weekend in Austin kind of soured the mood, and we didn’t get to explore as many walking trails as we’d hoped to. Instead we slowly explored the local Goodwills, surfed the internet in a cute little Italian cafĂ© off of South Congress, visited the GE Garage and caught up on our laundry. 

The GE garage, where you could see demos of pretty cool machinery, like a 3D printer
Austin is definitely one of the cities we’ll be looking forward to coming back to, and its on the short list of places we think we might like to live in the future.

More pictures of Austin can be found here.

Happy Austin exploring,


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