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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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"...and I shall go to Texas." - Davy Crockett

monsteralice and I took a short vacation to Austin, Texas the other week. It's a nice town, reminiscent of DC in some ways- lots of green space, no skyscrapers, a river running through town… there are some very pretty buildings, and the state capitol is made of a striking rose-colored stone and quite lovely. Hotter, of course- but the old cliché "it's a dry heat" really seemed to have some truth to it… if we moved slowly and stayed hydrated, it was actually better than the muck we have to deal with around here in the summer. Sort of. A/C was not optional- it was mandatory.

The local pigeon/starling niche seemed to be filled by Great-Tailed Grackles, which are certainly handsome and were a lot of fun to watch- they're cheeky and fairly fearless, and their calls include an amusingly rude-sounding whistle.

It's a college town, which along with the local music scene means that the funk quotient is pretty high. The University has some nice museums- we went to the Texas Memorial Museum, home of the Onion Creek Mosasaur (which must have been even scarier than a great white shark) and the Texas Pterosaur, the largest flying creature ever discovered.* I was pleased to note that the scientific name of the pterosaur referenced Quetzalcoatl…

We also paid a visit to the Harry Ransom Center, the University's humanities research center. We saw the Gutenberg Bible that they have on display (open to a page that had a nice decorated initial, some intriguing scribal notations, and some monkish thumbprints on it), and the first photograph, which was faint but had a ghostly and almost three-dimensional quality to it. Both of these exhibits were housed in enclosures that were almost like shrines, and rightly so- both of them had a holy feeling to them, and a sense of enormous potential beneath an innocent-looking surface... the first harbingers of technologies that would remake the world. The exhibits on display included a collection of "artist's books" that monsteralice was enthralled by, and a display of ancient maps and travel books that was quite fascinating.

It was also nice to see free museums- something that we're used to from living near the Smithsonian complex, but becoming less the norm in other parts of the world.

There were a few choice places to shop, including a lovely ethno-funky goods place called Tesoros Trading Co. and a huge independent bookstore called BookPeople, which combined the charm of a small store with a truly staggering selection. We ate some truly tasty Tex-Mex food, and made a side trip (a pilgrimage, really) to Lockhart, a small town with a nicely-preserved Victorian core, for the Best. BBQ. Ever.- pork loin and sausage and brisket, all smoked to perfection with the most amazing, indescribable flavor pervading the meat, topped with a phenomenal sauce that perfectly complemented it. The sides were pretty good, too…

But none of that really touches on why we went. We went for the bats, of course. But more of that later. Until then, a few pics to whet your appetite…

* monsteralice's constant mantra during the trip was "Because everything's bigger in Texas! ;-)

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Poor bastard, he'll see them soon enough!

And so will you...

I have tiny pigs on my piano!

oh dear gods i can so hear monster alice saying that too

Everything is bigger in Texas. . .

It's so true!

The spiders. The spiders. . .Ahhhhhhh!

Neat pictures!

I look forward to hearing about the bats. :)

I'm a member of BCI (http://www.batcon.org/) so I'm a huge fan of bats. Where did you go to bat watch?

I'm a member of BCI (http://www.batcon.org/)

So am I!

Where did you go to bat watch?

Watch this LJ for more details. ;-)

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