Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Downtown Austin 11K Volksmarch - Mon., July 22

At 9:45 a.m. we headed out from the Extended Stay on South 1st in on our 6.8 mile jaunt around Austin's downtown, the State Capitol Building and the University of Texas. It was already hot and humid.

First weird Austin surprise of the day were these decorative armadillos lining the top of the windows and doors at Threadgills Restaurant.

What we saw next was the big bat sculpture Nightwing, by Dale Whistler, at the south end of the Congress Street Bridge (where we watched bats emerge last night).

Here's the Congress Street Bridge looking north to downtown Austin.

As we walked, we were again delighted by all that Austin has to offer. Some cities display painted cows, buffalo, horses, pigs as part of their art scene. Austin, being a lot about music, has painted guitars. We saw two, but certainly there are more.

"Twinkle, Twinkle Lonestar"
Austin has a compact downtown core with both old and new buildings. Construction projects seem to be ongoing indicating a healthy economy. Bob counted six cranes working in the heart of downtown.

Hotel Driskill
She looks like a gangster's moll.

Bob in front of The Driskill (yellow shirt).
First Citizen's Bank
State Theater
Spires on Cathedral of Saint Mary.
 Below is the Cathedral of Saint Mary (Austin, Texas) which is currently undergoing renovation.

Art deco State Highway Building (1933)

State Highway Building, different view.
The building below has its own interesting history. This was the General Land Office Building from 1856-1917. The architecture blends two 19th-century Revival styles: the Rundbogenstil, or round-arched style is reflected in the rounded windows and doors; the Norman style is reflected in the castle-like parapets. The exterior walls are limestone rubble smoothed over with stucco, then scored to look like cut stone blocks. In 1918 the General Land Office moved across 11th Street to larger quarters. This building housed museums over the years until a 1989-1992 restoration after which the building became the Capitol Complex Visitors Center.

Capitol Complex Visitors Center.
As you may have guessed, our walk is taking us through the State Capitol Complex. There is a lot to see here, including a tour of the Capitol and a tour of the Capitol grounds. Interesting factoid: the Texas State Capitol Building is taller than the U.S. Capitol Building.

Austin, Texas, State Capitol
What is this contraption?
We found this old drinking fountain to be very unique. (P.S. The light fixture does not come out of the top of it. That was an unfortunate camera angle.) For years, this drinking fountain was pumping up water from an artesian well. There used to be a tin cup attached from which to drink the water. It is now hooked up to "safe" city water and there is no more tin cup. We found it very useful for refilling our water bottles. You step on the foot pedal by the ground and hold your water bottle under the spigot to fill it. If you look closely you can see the water comes down from the top.

We have made it to the Capitol portion of our Volksmarch. When we went inside, we noted that a tour of the building started in five minutes. We decided to take the 30-45 minute tour. What a beautiful Capitol!

Our guide's name was Jason and he was a ham. He moved around so much most of my photos of him were blurry. Here's a few photos taken on our tour. We had no idea the Capitol and grounds were so big. The building was expanded underground, so not only is it four floors above ground, it is four floors underground as well.

The lobby looking toward the Rotunda.
Ceiling of the Rotunda in the Capitol.
Looking up at the other floors in the Rotunda.
Jason pointing out the nation's flags that have flown over Texas.
Stairwell to second floor.
Senate Chamber.
Senate Chamber.
House of Representatives.
Original battlefield flag from the Battle of San Jacinto on display
in House of Representatives when they are in session.
View from House of Representatives.
Door hinges in the Capitol. (Bob pointed these out.)

View of dome from one of the lower levels.
Reverse Rotunda, outside - north side of Capitol.
Once we finished the tour, we continued our Volksmarch, heading in the direction of Univsersity of Texas. Along the way, we passed museums and Santa Rita #1.

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Blanton Museum of Art
Santa Rita #1 was the first producing oil well on permanent University fund lands. It launched a new era in the development of the University of Texas. The well was named by its drillers for Saint Rita, the saint of the impossible, because of popular opinion that there was no chance of success finding oil at this location. (How wrong they were. Lots of oil here.)

Santa Rita #1 oil well.
We had entered the University of Texas. If we hadn't know it before, we knew it now...

Our walk took us to the Lydon B. Johnson Library and Museum. This was a checkpoint so we went inside for the much-needed air conditioning. My start card was stamped by the information desk. This was the farthest point on our walk. Everything from here was downhill, so to speak.

Beautiful bell display at Austin Performing Arts Center.
Longhorns Football Stadium
LBJ Museum and Library
Martin Luther King Jr. statue on UT Austin campus.
Clock tower at University of Texas.
It was pretty windy!
Car2Go parking.
Texans love their big boots.

We then returned to the Capitol grounds walking on the opposite side of the building from where we were earlier. There are many sculptures interspersed around the greenery.

Tejano history.

The jay below was taking a dust bath in a small park. It sure is fluffed up.

Historic bakery building; now Visitor Info.
Beautiful home; looks like one we'd see in New Orleans.
We passed through a small area of Victorian homes.

As we headed back toward Lady Bird Johnson Lake, it was very hot. We're thinking about 97 degrees. It was time for more shade and air conditioning. At our next stop, City Hall, we got to go inside and look at art displays before heading outside for the final stretch.

We finished our 6.8 mile walk in three hours (including the State Capitol Tour). By the finish, we were ready for lunch.

 After having walked past Sandy's four times on Sunday, we decided to try it. Oh boy, are their burgers, chicken sandwiches and malts yummy! We know from firsthand experience.

From  Austin, we drove out to Hamilton Pool Preserve (it's in a natual grotto) to swim. The Preserve limits the number of cars to 75 at any given time. When we got there, a long line of cars was waiting to go in. We decided to come back earlier tomorrow.

Since we couldn't swim at Hamilton Pool, we returned to McKinney Falls and headed to the swimmin' hole at Upper McKinney Falls. The weekend crowds were gone and we shared the swimmin' hole with one other family. Nice time. The water was warm but not too warm. It was easy to get in and stay in. From time to time, we'd see turtle heads pop up to the surface of the water. After cooling off, we called it a day.

Upper McKinney Falls swimmin' hole. (No people when we left!)
 As we walked back to our car from the swimming hole, we were treated to a beautiful sky.

When the sun went down, we were outside making another campfire. For dinner we had chicken breasts and skewered vegetables in tin foil pockets that we cooked in the campfire coals. That was very tasty. For dessert, we had S'mores.

Travel Bug saying, "Lights out and goodnight."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know what you think, your experiences, and constructive criticism to make this blog stronger.