May 15, 2012

Ferry Ride Down Lady Bird Lake

(Austin, Texas.) A couple of weeks ago, I took a nice ferry ride up and down a stretch of Lady Bird Lake, which is close to downtown Austin. If you want to learn about the city's history in all its quirky glory, it's well worth it to pay10 dollars per person for the one-hour tour.

The three tall buildings you see in the background are currently some of the tallest buildings in Austin, although there will be an increase in such buildings in the future. I found it hilarious that the guide explained the price of buying an apartment in those high rises in detail as part of city history.

The pair of swans swimming in the lake are actually not native to the lake; they were brought there by a man and the swans subsequently made their home there. There is a ten-mile walking trail that runs alongside the lake, and is called The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail after Lady Bird Johnson.

Austin may be a city, but it's easy to immerse yourself in nature: rivers, creeks, natural springs. It made me scared for Tokyo, where a row of trees planted sparsely alongside the road counts as greenery. Considering how easy it is to feel joy and freedom from the natural surroundings in Austin, the lack of nature is probably affecting the humanity of Tokyoites.

One of two graffiti works on the Union Pacific Train bridge.

It is forbidden to use a motorized boat in the lake, and swimming is also forbidden because the lake's depths are unpredictable. Not that this stopped this young man from jumping in.

Chase Bank Tower, visible from anywhere downtown. If you look at it from an angle, the Chase logo suddenly starts to look like a pair of eyes, and then the rest of the building morphs into an owl. Rumor has it that the building was built by an architect from a Texas city whose football team are rivals with the Austin team, and as a prank, they deliberately shaped the building to favor their own mascot, the owl.

Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, home to a million female bats. Yes, bats, and all of them pregnant. The bridge was renovated in the 1970s, and concrete slats were added under to reinforce the construction. The tiny crevices in between the slates turned out to be perfect for the hand-sized bats. As the babies are born, the population doubles, and around 9 pm every night, the bats come out en masse, to the delight of bat-watchers. Because it was daytime I couldn't see them, but I could hear their sonic screams.

One of the best works of graffiti I saw is on the railroad bridge, and on the left side of the photo. It's too blurred to make out, but it reads, "Lets (sic) pretend we are robots".

The view from one of the midsize buildings on the other side of the river. The building has a pool on one of the higher floors that looks like it belongs in a beach resort, and there's even a party room you can use so your own apartment won't get trashed.

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