Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Lots of Bats Live in Austin, Texas

Ah, Austin, Texas. What a place. It was interesting to me because of how liberal it seemed compared to how conservative the state is supposed to be. Before this trip I had obviously heard of Austin, Houston, and San Antonio but I had no idea how they were different. Well that was about to change.

We decided to walk from our hotel to get some lunch because we figured it would be hard to park downtown on a Wednesday at lunch time. It was really, really hot outside. Texas is hot. We had some BBQ at Iron Works first thing. Luckily they had one of those giant industrial fans inside to make eating bearable.

Texas has their own cheapy PBR-like beer: Lone Star. Coincidence would have it that it's also owned by Pabst.

State capitals are such a nice place for a tourist. There's always plenty of free history to experience in the form of state buildings. To the capitol!

Turns out Texas is pretty obsessed with stars.

Texas also seems pretty enamored with the fact that it's been part of six different countries: the US, the Confederacy, Mexico, Spain, France, and the Republic of Texas. If you ask me it's nothing to brag about. Seems more like a dirty doorknob where everyone gets a turn. I doubt Belgium is so proud about getting invaded left and right.

Did you know that Texas being passed around like a church collection plate is where the amusement park Six Flags got it's name?

And don't get me started with the whole "we were our own country" bragging crap. That delicious Lone Star beer I had earlier? Its slogan is "the national beer of Texas". Very cute. I've never encountered a state with so many stupid tag lines. Billboards with "don't mess with Texas" and "blah blah is bigger in Texas" were everywhere. The truth is that Texas was its own country for 10 years because the US didn't want it. Some of us still don't. Zing! I enjoyed my time in Texas I'm just not a fan of all the trash talk. Moving on...

David Crockett, king of the wild frontier.

Next we learned even more about Texas at the state history museum.

I learned all about oil.

There was a special exhibit on the 60s which we enjoyed. I think Mad Men in particular has stoked a lot of interest in the decade.

Lydia practicing election fraud.

We went to the Congress Bridge right before dusk in order to see an epic number of bats swarm from their homes under the bridge. I thought this was going to be some obscure locals-only event but there were a ton of people laid out on a big grassy field waiting for the bats. We decided that we might get a better vantage point from on top of the bridge itself.

This guy was amusing. He was a drumming street performer who used this guard rail as one of his instruments. I still didn't give him any money, but I thought it was cool.

There were so many of them moving so fast plus low light levels made it pretty much impossible to get any decent pictures. You can just make out some of their buzzy little shadows on the left side of this picture. But it was really impressive to see. There was a continuous, blurry ribbon of bats just pouring out from under the bridge and over the river. They just kept coming and coming, and it went on so long that we left our vantage point to give other onlookers a chance to use our spot. Very wild!

It was a bit like trying to take a picture of a swarm of bees in the dark. 

 Next we headed to Pinballz Arcade, which is by far the most comprehensive pinball place that I have ever encountered. I couldn't think of a single machine that was absent. Part of the reason that we went is to scope out some ideas for my hypothetical business on the square in downtown Neosho. I would love to have a pinball bar but I think it needs to have some sort of lunch food in order to draw in the daytime county employee crowd. On the other hand, cooking is a pain.

I think it's cool when places make decorations out of old broken machines. They'd probably just end up in the trash otherwise. The early pinball machines are nice to look at but they are just torture to play.

We ended the night with a saunter up and down 6th street. It was sort of a Beale Street sort of place, with lots of flashy bars and clubs with aggressive barkers out front pestering you to come in. 

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