David, Ruth and I just returned from a spring break trip to Texas, specifically San Antonio and Austin. We were a family of three on the trip because John and H. were in Chile on a missions trip. H. had been to Chile several times many years ago (pre-marriage) and had wanted to return and wanted to take John. When he decided to go this spring, we decided it would also be good for me to take the other two kids on a trip somewhere special.
Why Texas? Well, we’d never been there before and I’d heard great things about both cities. I wanted somewhere warm but not too spring-breakish (no beach or Florida). We were not disappointed. It was a great trip.
At first, when we saw bluebonnets, we were super excited. Then we realized they are everywhere. Literally. The ones in the photo above are from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center which was lovely.
The fauna that David and I were most excited to see were BATS. I didn’t know before this trip but Texas is apparently known for its large bat colonies. The ones in the photo above are from a colony that lives under the Camden Street Bridge in San Antonio. If you show up around sunset you can see them emerge. It’s a pretty spectacular sight…thousands of bats streaming out from the bridge and flying into the night. Even more impressive were the bats in the Congress Street Bridge colony in Austin. It’s the largest urban bat colony in the world (1.5 million bats). It’s also impressive and fun to see the large crowds of people who line the bridge and the hillside (and on boats on the river itself) to see the bats.
We had fun in both cities. I liked Austin better…it was more, well, weird. (I can see where the Keep Austin Weird slogan comes from.) We biked around the Ladybird Lake in the middle of town, had great tacos, swam in the natural pool that is Barton Springs, sloshed through the Capitol on an exceptionally rainy morning, and walked around the University of Texas. San Antonio felt way more busy and touristy to me, although the Riverwalk area is truly beautiful. We happened to be there during the NCAA Final Four so the touristy feel was probably exaggerated. We enjoyed the Alamo and the other Missions, saw great Latin American art at the San Antonio Museum, ate great BBQ (the carnivores among us), took a river boat tour and enjoyed the San Antonio Zoo (our favorite was all the wild nesting cranes in the trees).
However, our favorite thing we did was hike at Enchanted Rock State Park, about an hour and a half away from both cities. It’s a short hike up (about half a mile) but super steep. And so worth it. Hiking around the park was also fun with a lot of boulders to climb.
Probably my favorite thing we did was to hunt for street art around Austin. The first day in the city we went on a longish walk near University of Texas (ending in ice cream and root beer floats at Amy’s) and saw as much as we could. The last day of our trip we ended at the S. Congress neighborhood and visited a few other landmark sites.
When I told friends about this trip, I had a few people remark that I was “brave” to do it. That seemed like a strange sentiment to me but I realized that as a family we have become very accustomed to travel. The kids were old pros at things like packing and going through airport security lines. And they are old enough that it’s really very easy. They did their own packing for the most part and were troopers on days that were long and sometimes tiring. The three of us had a really good time together. We missed H. and John a lot, but we also enjoyed each other and knew they were having their own adventures.
So, I’ll end this post with what I’ve said in other travel posts: If you are trying to decide if it’s worth it, it is. Just do it. Go!