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29 May 2011

The Bats

After an exhausting arrival in Austin, Ueli and I headed back from the UT campus to our host's apartment. But along the way, we stopped by Whole Foods Market. And not just any Whole Foods, but the original/flagship store, on 5th and Lamar in Austin. It was quite the market - very big and with an unbelievable selection of anything you could ever want to eat.

We bought some ingredients to make some curry for dinner. Vegetarian curry. I was convinced that several days of road trip food (burgers and barbecue) were the reason that I was feeling so negative, so it was time for something healthy and light. That's the thing with traveling - it's really hard to stay healthy, whether it's eating right, getting enough exercise, or getting enough sleep. "Living as the locals do" in Texas means, to an extent, sacrificing your health. (However, it's not necessarily true in Austin - I've seen several vegetarian restaurants in town, and there are surprisingly many people riding bikes around town.)

After making some dinner for ourselves and Sharon, we noticed that it was close to sunset, so Ueli and I headed out to the Congress Street Bridge to see the famous appearance of the bats. I found a parking space south of the bridge, about 20 minutes before sunset, and we walked around to see the area before the sun went down. The east side of the bridge was already filling up with eager spectators waiting to see the bats.

We found a spot, then waited and waited. Several boats/barges carrying tourists had parked themselves on the lake below. Finally, about 15-20 minutes after sunset, the bats emerged. They started streaming out, right underneath our location on the bridge. It was already dark, so it was hard to see them in photos, but I could easily see them blasting out from under the bridge, looping around the bridge once, then rising into the sky in the distance. Where they were going, I don't know. But it really was quite a unique sight.

We returned to the apartment, and Sharon soon arrived (back from a full day at a networking event). We had dinner, then luckily we were ready for bed already. I say luckily because we had to first inflate an air mattress to sleep on. But the pump was a small little bicycle pump. So it took over an hour of taking turns pumping to fill up the mattress. If we had gone out, it would have been really late and pumping a mattress would have been the last thing we wanted.

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