Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Things to Do in Austin: The Congress Bridge Bats.

I've mentioned before what a lovely city this is to be a parent. In fact, I was just telling someone the other day how Austin must be one of the few cities that is even more enjoyable as a mother than it was as a college student - and that's saying a lot, because I had FUN in college!

Anyhow, we try to full advantage of our summers (despite the increasingly intense heat!) and try to experience Austin to the fullest. A few weekends ago, staying nearer to downtown while watching the girls while their parents were out of town with Ava, that experience took the form of seeking out the bats under the Congress Avenue bridge.

For those who aren't locals, Austin is home to the largest bat colony in North America, all 1.5 million of whom come out at dusk to eat over 20,000 lbs. of mosquitoes per night (!!!!) (How there are any left to bite me is beyond me, but there certainly is!)! Though it may sound creepy initially, it's actually quite a spectacular sight to see, and a huge tourist attraction! Maybe that's why I felt my Austinite status was being jeopardized when I realized that, despite living here for over eleven years, I had not ever been witness to this sight, and wanted to rectify that immediately!

The day of, we were really excited, making a whole night of it by heading down early to do dinner beforehand. My first clue that the night might be going to take a downwards turn should have been then, when we got caught in some of the worst traffic downtown I've ever been in. I had completely forgotten that it was ROT (Republic of Texas) Rally weekend, and that all the streets would be closed at parts to display the motorcycles and prepare for the parade. Eesh. Naively, though, I thought that once we managed to get through traffic and find parking, the night would go smoothly. Ha!

Dinner was great. Or, as great as anything can be when you have three children and two adults, and the three children all have opinions about their food and/or why they shouldn't have to eat dinner. Thankfully, we were at a Mexican restaurant and not driving for hours, so a tasty Cantina Laredo margarita took the edge off :)

Afterwards, wanting to secure a decent spot for the main attraction ,we headed down towards Town Lake (I refuse to refer to it as "Lady Bird Lake" now that they've changed the name, no matter how lovely a lady she is!) to the Congress Avenue Bridge to stake out the best spot to watch. Having heard that the real experience would be best from a dock on the lake itself under the bridge, we hiked down towards the Town Lake hike and bike trails to find said dock, and set up shop to wait. And wait. AND WAIT.

Suffice it to say, three little girls aren't the best at waiting. By the time that people really started gathering at the bridge (we weren't sure how early we needed to be, so we got there ahead of schedule), we had been sitting there the better part of two hours (!!!), and tempers were being tested! It wasn't just us getting antsy either, as once 9:00 rolled around, the boats out on the lake were actually shining their lights up under the bridge in the hopes that they could scare them out!

We weren't sure how long to wait, so we stayed out there until nearly 9:45, but by that time, it was so far past all three girls' bedtimes, that we decided to go ahead and head home. Plus, the Four Seasons was directly near the dock we were at, and I knew that on weekends during the summer they did s'mores for kiddos on their back deck, and I had been promising the girls s'mores to placate them. Unfortunately, there was a wedding that night, so they weren't doing them.  FAIL NUMBER TWO. Luckily we had let the girls roll down the hill behind the hotel while we were waiting earlier in the night, so the Four Seasons wasn't all bad :)

Though the night was a bit disappointing, with neither of the awesome activities we had planned working out, we still had a great time together, and can't wait to try again later in the summer!

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