Monday, August 6, 2012

Trip to Austin.....Part 3

We decided to see a well known Austin attraction, the "bats who live in the Congress Avenue Bridge and fly out every night at sunset".  I did some online research and found out that 1,000,000 (yup, a million!!) bats sleep all day in the Congress Avenue Bridge, and every night at sunset they "fly out to feed".   I'm not sure why I wanted to see this, but I wanted to see it.  In fact, my whole family agreed that we wanted to see this.  Part of my thinking was....."if it doesn't measure up as a tourist attraction we will have still spent a nice sunset at the shore, and then we can go for Tex-Mex".  Everyone knew this was the plan, and were cool with it.  Here's a link about it

Like most things in Austin, the Congress Avenue Bridge was five minutes from our hotel.  The concierge (yup, he knew about the bats!) told us the Austin American Statesman (THE Austin newspaper) allowed bat watchers to park in their parking lot.  Sure enough.....

There were quite a few people waiting for the bats, and a lot of posted info about the bats.  We learned all about the natural phenomena that caused one MILLION bats to live in the bridge, sleep all day, and come out at night to feed.  There was even a bat expert walking around and answering people's bat questions.  She did point out that we were not at the height of the bat season, which is right after hundreds of thousands of bat mom's give birth, then leave their young to hunt for insects. Supposedly the bats consumed thousands of pounds of insects every night.

Looking at the bridge in still light twilight, I waxed poetic and thought, "This is all a bunch of bullshit.  I mean, a MILLION bats?"  "Did someone actually take a census?"  "A million is a lot, I don't think you could fit a million marbles under the bridge, much less living creatures."  I also wondered "Where does all the bat guano go?"

I was also a little worried about one million blind bats flying around, right where we were standing.  The expert lady assured us they were blind, but their sonar tracking was highly sophisticated and they might come close but would never hit us.  I was skeptical, I mean, my GPS is pretty sophisticated but sometimes it sends me on stupid routes.

We had some time, so we took some pictures....

Here's a picture from early in the bat waiting process....

As it got darker, more people congregated....

Then, it started to get dark, and you could kind of see shadows of bats flying around.  There was never an "oooooh, ahhhhh", moment.  It was mostly "Was that a bat?  Did you see any bats?".  At a certain point I realized that if a bat got close enough for me to actually see it, that was way too close.  If there are a million bats in there, they were either hibernating or watching something on cable.  Maybe they were waiting for the tourists to leave when it got REALLY dark.  Maybe they weren't so hungry that they had to come out the moment the sun went down....maybe they would just come out later for a nosh.  So, we saw some bats.  For all I know, we may have seen thousands of bats.  But a million?!?!?!

Still in all, for a free attraction, I felt we got our money's worth.  It was only 9 o'clock, so we embarked on our evening plan, dinner in South Austin.  The Congress Avenue Bridge crosses Town Lake.  On one side Congress Avenue is a downtown street, leading directly to the Capitol building.  On the other side of Town Lake, Congress Avenue becomes South Congress.  This is a pretty cool part of Austin, with lots of restaurants, and food trucks, and bars with music, and college students.  We cruised up and down checking things out, then hunger won out and we went to one of the restaurants on our list, Guero's Tacos.  Pretty dang good!!!!

After dinner we had to walk it off.  We stumbled upon Amy's Ice Cream.  Fantastic.  I did some research later and found out Amy's is an Austin tradition.  Here's a posting from a Foodie blog about Amy's.

When we got back to our hotel, we took a walk on 6th Street, which was closed to traffic due to 40,000 bikers being in Austin, on 6th Street, all at the same time.  Certainly more bikers on 6th Street than bats at the bridge.  We walked around in the insanity for an hour or so, then called it a night.

Another great day in Austin....

Next, Part 4....Barton Springs!!

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