January 28, 2013

Becoming Austinites

I can't believe we've already been in Austin for over two weeks! We've fallen into a routine here, made up of running, mountain biking, soccer playing, hiking, and city exploring. We've had amazing, GLORIOUS weather as well, holding steady in the mid 70s and lots and lots of sunshine. (70 degrees in January...EPIC!) It's hard to complain when everything comes together so well and works outs. In other words, life and Austin have been good to us.

Billboard advertising Austin
Out and about in Austin
I've found an excellent place to run- the soft surface trail that surrounds Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. During day light hours this trail is heavily used by the locals for running, walking and biking. Of all the cities we've visited in the US this might be the most heavily used urban trail that we've been to. Around lunch time and just after 5 this trail is packed to the brim. During the remaining hours of the day the trail has enough people on it that I am always within 30 feet of another person.

The trail around Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX
The trail around Lady Bird Lake
The trail around Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX
Trail busy with people on a Sunday afternoon
I LOVE all this activity! When I'm running, even though I'm not running with anyone in particular, I feel like I'm part of a large group. I speed up to pass, run alongside some, and get passed. I am constantly distracted from the task at hand, and for me that's a good thing. The full length of the trail around the lake is just over 10 miles, but the most popular portions fall between the Congress Avenue bridge and the MOPAC bridge, on both sides of the lake. I've found a perfect 5 mile loop there and now that's my main stomping ground.

Skyler has found heaven on the Barton Springs Greenbelt, a single track trail that runs 8 miles along Barton Creek away from downtown. The trail has varying terrain and sometimes runs beneath forest canopies, others times through fields of tall grass. I'd say three quarters of the trail are on even ground and are easy to navigate, while the remaining portion consists of technical creek bed crossings, clambering over boulders, narrow ledges along limestone walls and other types of obstacles that I would never dream of doing on my bike. Sky finds this mix delightful and is busy working on improving his biking skills. He's also discovered that there is PICK-UP SOCCER TO BE FOUND EVERYDAY at 4pm at Zilker Park. Yup, enough said.

The Barton Springs Greenbelt trail
The Barton Springs Greenbelt trail
Creek bed crossing on the Barton Springs Greenbelt trail
Creek bed crossing on the Barton Springs Greenbelt trail
The YMCA has offered a really welcome retreat for us. The atmosphere here is very upbeat and the center seems to be brimming with activity all day long. We've been going to a great Ashtanga Yoga class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, where we've been contorted into human pretzels and discovered that our bodies can bend in ways we've never known before. The center is centrally located and the Lady Bird Lake trail that I run on is just outside the front door. Zilker park is a mile away, across the pedestrian bridge.

The Townlake YMCA in Austin, TX
The Townlake YMCA
The center is also super close to downtown. The Whole Foods market is within walking distance from here (a mere three blocks away), as well as a great bookstore called Book People. On nights when we don't feel like going home just yet we mosey over to the Whole Foods to browse the sample selection or to pick out a dinner option, or relax with a book at the bookstore.

The Whole Foods patio on a Thursday evening in Austin, TX
The Whole Foods patio on a Thursday evening
The cake selection at Whole Foods in Austin, TX
The cake selection at Whole Foods
The remainder of our time has been spent exploring Austin. There is so much to see and do! One of my most favorite things in life is eating, and eating good food, and Austin has lots to offer. I swear every corner we turn there is another good looking restaurant, cafe or food truck. We've dabbled in yummy Greek Pita sandwiches, Vietnamese noodle bowls, Thai curries, Cuban tacos, and massively huge gourmet doughnuts. Its a good thing that we're getting so much exercise to offset all these delicious calories!

The food trucks on Congress Ave. in Austin, TX
The food trucks on Congress Ave.
A crepes food truck on 1st Avenue in Austin, TX
A crepes food truck on 1st Avenue
We are looking forward to another great two weeks in this wonderful city!

To see more pictures of Austin, click here (or here, our pictures from last year). 

Happy Life in Austin,


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