Work Trip with some Photos on the Side
My work has a few offices spread around the
world. I'm currently working with a team based out of Austin
and we decided it would be good if some of the Vancouver office
went to Austin to have meetings and understand their situation a
bit better. It was a working week - fly down Monday (arrive
after midnight), work Tuesday to Friday and then fly back on
Saturday morning (we left the hotel at 5:30am Saturday
morning. On the plus side, there are a lot of hours outside
of office hours and we tried to make the most of it!
Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory
Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory is a really
fancy way of say "the sewage treatment plant".
Vancouver has a similar birding destination - Ioco beach has a
sewage treatment plant that attracts migratory birds. I set
my alarm early and Uber took me out to near the airport I arrived
at a few hours earlier.
The first pond was empty save a single
spotted sandpiper eating bugs at the shore. The second pond
had a variety of ducks - mostly Northern Shovelers and American
Coots. I was happy to see Ruddy ducks - a species that would
be a rare visitor to Vancouver.
The ducks were quite skittish - even 20 feet was too close to most
of the. I'm too used to Reifel Bird Sanctuary where the
birds are fed and practically run over your shoes to see if you
have any seeds for them.
At the edge of the ponds are trees and some
fast growing weeds. I was really happy to spot an Northern
Cardinal. This is a very common feeder bird in the eastern
side of North America, but I have never seen one before. It
sings quite nicely.
As the morning warmed up, butterflies started to fly around.
I spotted a few and they were patient enough to let me take
photos. While a know a few birds by sight, I know very few
butterflies by sight and I was hoping that both of these would be
new to me southern species. Turns out either could be seen
Salt Lick BBQ
Our hosts in Austin kindly
organized a few dinners out for us. Clearly not trip to Texas
would be complete without a BBQ experience so we decided to go to
Salt Lick in Driftwood, outside of the Austin core. The
traffic is quite bad between 4 and 6 so we decided to leave the
office early to beat the rush. We had an Engineering meeting
in the picnic tables in possibly the nicest afternoon weather ever.
The restaurant has a
few surprises. First, it clearly focuses on barbecue meat -
when you walk in the door, a campfire warming "pit" is the focus of
attention. This isn't actually where the meat is smoked and
it's not all of the meat available. It serves as a staging
area for meat to be plated.
The second surprise was that the
restaurant doesn't sell alcohol, but is fine with you bringing in a
cooler and serving yourself. As someone from BC that has
puritanical alcohol rules (you don't bring your own), this blew my
mind. Many restaurants in Vancouver sell food at a near loss
hoping to make up the revenue on expensive alcohol sales.
The meals are either set plates or "all you can eat". As a
vegetarian, they kindly made me a plate of the three included
sides - coleslaw, potato salad and beans. The server said it
was meat free and I seemed fine. The set plates have a few
options not available for "all you can eat" - Bison or
Turkey. The all you can eat was plate after plate (served
family style) with beef brisket, sausage and pork ribs. Four
people at my table finished three plates but I think they felt it
well into the next day. I ordered dessert!
Pennybacker bridge was pretty close to our
Hotel - maybe a twelve dollar ride in Uber. When I looked
online to see how people took pictures of the bridge, I noticed a
lot of people took light streak photos showing the vehicles drive
over the bridge so I decided to try a timelapse of sunrise trying
to get the light streaks.
After sitting around for 45 minutes
watching sunrise, I walked the near by ridge trail looking for the
spring flowers. We were really fortunate with out timing -
spring flowers were blooming everywhere. The margins
of the highway were quite colourful and the trails up here had a
wide variety of spring flowers.
I was lucky to get an overcast morning which makes flower
There were birds present, but they were
tricky to find and kept moving. I found one sparrow singing
away on a branch suspended way over the cliff - no cat would ever
be able to reach it. The sparrow as very patient with
On our last night, we
went downtown for some entertainment and to see the bats emerge from
the Congress Street Bridge. We got burgers on 6th street at
Casino El Camino and then walked down to the Congress street bridge
to see the bats come out.
were a few problems with our plan. I called and found the bats
were expected between 7:45 and 8:45 pm. Being Friday night,
the bridge was packed two people deep and getting a spot of the
railing wasn't easy. Second problem - turns out the bats
mostly fly off the south side of the bridge and we stopped at the
North side of the bridge. By time time someone pointed out the
clouds of bats on the horizon, they were tiny specs in the
air. Looking over the bridge you could see tiny bodies
traveling very quickly along the bridge to the eastern side, but we
didn't get a close experience. I guess next time I come to
Austin, I'll know better!
Thanks to all the Austin folks who kindly showed us around and put
up with out of town questions!
Tags: food porn(3), barbeque(2), flower(2), butterfly(2), boat(1), city(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Austin
Last Modified Sunday, April 14th, 2019 at 23:30:46 Edit
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