Austin, part one

I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors. Camping, hiking, and later, backpacking, rock climbing, and mountaineering. The latter two activities ended up consuming more and more of my time as I got older. I chose the first college I went to chiefly because it got me closer to some of the best rock climbing and mountaineering around in Joshua Tree National Park, the San Jacinto mountains and, a bit further but still accessible, the high sierra.

All I wanted to do was be in the mountains and, ideally, climb them. Since that wasn’t financially viable for me I did what I considered the next best thing, I worked at the North Face and mostly sat around reading books on Reinhold Messner, Conrad Anker, Edmund Hillary, Alex Lowe, Galen Rowell and others. I even got to hang out with Ron Kauk when he gave a talk at our store. And of course I went climbing whenever I could. There was no “van life” crap back then, just dirt bag climbers sleeping in their cars out in Joshua Tree, the Buttermilks, Horseshoe Slabs, and Deadman’s.

Which is all just a little background on why, rather than writing about what we did for two weeks in the Austin Texas area, I’m writing about how absolutely mind blowing it is that Alex Honnold free soloed El Capitan.

Just in case you’re not familiar with what that means, it means that he climbed a 3000 foot rock face, alone with no ropes, no protection, no margin for error. He climbed it perfectly. You know that he did because if he hadn’t he’d be a bloody smear somewhere up the face of El Capitan.

While the sheer physicality of climbing for three hours and fifty-six minutes with no break is impressive, to me it’s nothing next to the mental strength and absolute confidence it takes to even consider doing something like that, let alone doing it. If that doesn’t blow your fucking mind then I have to say, I think you’re probably not wired up quite right.

Anyway, we drove across more of Texas.

The open road, texas photographed by luxagraf

travco dashboard, texas photographed by luxagraf

directions, somewhere in texas photographed by luxagraf

1969 dodge travco, rest area, somewhere in texas photographed by luxagraf

The plan was to spend a while hanging around the Austin area, but we’re not very good planners. We forgot about Memorial day and couldn’t get a place to camp in Austin. We ended up just east of Austin, near Bastrop which had a space and was close enough to drive into town. We tried to take the kids to a children’s museum, but it was so crowded it was no fun for anyone.

children's museum, austin, tx photographed by luxagraf

children's museum, austin, tx photographed by luxagraf
“Me ready to go.”

We bailed out of that and headed out to Pioneer Farm, an all-volunteer effort to preserve a little slice of Texas (and more broadly, American) history with historic buildings, re-enactments and a working farm and blacksmith shop. Much more to the kids’ liking.

oil lamp, pioneer farm, austin, tx photographed by luxagraf

pioneer farm, austin, tx photographed by luxagraf
Given space kids can make a game out of anything, even an open window.
building, pioneer farm, austin, tx photographed by luxagraf
They don’t build them like they used to.

pioneer farm, austin, tx photographed by luxagraf

black and white photographed by luxagraf

The rest of the time we hung around camp and sweated.

riding bike, buscher state park photographed by luxagraf

wildflowers of texas drawing photographed by luxagraf
This time of year Texas roads are flanked by huge fields of wildflowers, which get translated to crayon.

wildflowers of texas drawing photographed by luxagraf

It finally got hot while we were in Bastrop. Really hot. One day the weather said it was 97 degrees and the “feels like” was at 116. What better day to go to a dinosaur park and walk around in the hot sun for a few hours? Made me miss Matt and Debi who would definitely have been up for some heat. Surprisingly though it wasn’t empty, there were more than a few Texans just as crazy as us, which was impressive.

dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

dinosaur nest, dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

dinosaur egg, dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf

trex mouth, dinosaur park, bastrop, tx photographed by luxagraf