Austin Daily Photo
But why are the stairs and the front door on the outside? The upstairs is probably a small apartment of its own. In central Austin, where space is increasingly expensive these days, lots of people have built apartments for rent literally at the bottom of their gardens, either on top of old-fashioned separate garages or as buildings of their own.
We ran out of photos so here is a wall with famous Austin restaurants all run by the same parent company.
Life on Wheels
South Austin has some amazing RV parks right in the middle of one of the most desirable areas. They are walking distance from Zilker Park, Barton Springs, a great playhouse, an art gallery and much more.
Barton Springs, meet Town Lake
This view is the delta of Austin's most famous creek and the lake that runs by downtown Austin.
Austin is known as the live music capital of the world. In addition to bars and clubs, almost every restaurant has a little stage where anyone from a guy and a guitar to a full string section performs for fans and diners. The Shady Grove restaurant has some great shows for free all summer.
fasten your seatbelts!
This big billboard-on-a-giant-stick reminds us drivers and passengers to wear our seatbelts or risk a $200 fine. It also enables us to survey the range of different uniforms available worn by members of the Texas Department of Transportation. I cannot decide whether their expressions are authoritative and intimidating, or just a little bit confused, but it is definitely all very charmingly Texas.
Austin Burgers are Top Notch
When people think of hamburgers they think of McDonalds and that is tragic. Austin has many groovy 50's style independent burger joints that will blow you away with their great taste, atmosphere, and friendly service.
Photo series coming soon!
electricity cables at dusk
Not an especially beautiful sunset, but I like the effect of all those lines on the big sky. You could probably see scenes just like this in thousands of ordinary American towns. To me, it is lovely.
There are currently lots of these cobwebby things in the trees we have all over Austin, but they do not belong to spiders. They are made by webworms
. Inside those nests the worms are hatching and eating the tree before turning into moths and flying off to do the same thing again. I think they look pretty weird and Gothic. Don't walk under one in case it breaks and all the worms fall out and land on your head (only joking, that probably can't really happen, maybe).
These really are very very used cars indeed. In fact they look like they were used mostly as ashtrays or maybe as barbecues. Actually, they are vintage cars ready to be restored; to be specific, powerful fast "muscle cars" from the 1970s. These are the kind of vehicles once driven by Starsky and Hutch and the Duke brothers. And mechanics really can and do restore cars from this state to new shiny glory these days. Isn't that amazing? I think they are brilliant.
storm in a truck
This one definitely says "Austin, Texas" to me: a tree-limb torn off by one of our many dramatic storms, which has landed right on top of a typical Texas truck. (Fortunately it appears that no-one was hurt, as the cab of the truck is fine and the scene was surrounded by police cars but nothing worse). We like having plentiful trees in our city. They are important for shade in the summer. But as we have a lot of storms, this also means there can be a lot of storm-damage. This year, roadsides have been strewn with ripped-off tree limbs waiting to be taken away and dumped somewhere. But we're Texans- we take it all in our stride, y'all!
The smallest church in Texas?
You could fit a few people inside if necessary, but there wouldn't be much room left for the organ... but no, this is not really the smallest church in Texas. It is just a very very fancy shed! We spotted it by the side of a highway in a field with another shed and what looked like horse jumping equipment. But who knows, perhaps the owners like to squeeze in there every Christian sabbath and sing a few hymns in praise of nature with their animal friends?
old-fashioned house with mimosa tree
There are lots of old wooden houses like this in Austin, mostly dating from the pre (second world) war era. They are a familiar sight, but each one has its own plot of land, shape and size and character. This is less decorated on the outside than many. I photographed it for the beautiful mimosa, which has pink flowers in the spring. There are a few still left on this one, towards the bottom, if you look closely.
Scary sci-fi monster
This is a giant metal creature from outer space taking over the world starting in Austin, from the new slacker version of The War of the Worlds
they are making here... no no, just joking!
Actually, it is the Penn Field water tower, taken at night, through the front window of our car (hence the little UFOs on the windscreen), from the parking lot outside the Ruta Maya International Headquarters
coffee house and venue. And the tower on the left is for cellphone signals but I call it the Buffy Tower because it reminds me a little of the one built by mad people that Buffy jumps off at the end of season five.
Does anywhere else in the world have mailboxes like these? They seem so iconic it might be fun to photograph a whole series of them. Not all homes have these mailboxes however. Quite a few have boxes with lids attached to wall beside the front door, although the letterbox in
the door they have in Europe seems unknown here. But traditional mailboxes on sticks certainly make the mailman's life easier; he can drive along the street and fill them up without ever leaving his van.
The city of Austin is an oasis in the big desert that is Texas. It is situated on top of a natural system of underground water called the Edwards Aquifer
, in the center of the state where the warm desert air and the humid ocean air meet, creating lots of storms and rain. Spring, now nearly over, is the rainy season when everything grows like a jungle. And this is what I call a backyard fence.
Throughout the merry month of May, we frolic in the grass and hay
but when it's June that comes around, dried up grass is all that's found
There are many interesting and lovely front yards in the city of Austin and some of the loveliest belong to the historic Hyde Park neighborhood. This impressive collection of giant cacti will take care of itself through the long dry summer.
Those of us who do not have the requisite American matching large washing machine and tumble dryer set are driven to the indignity of weekly visits to the super-duper fancy pants mega washeteria with its snack food vending machines, arcade games, free TV screens (center left) and lovely colorful push-around laundry carts.
[Due to technical problems and telephone companies of low intelligence, this photo appeared temporarily then disappeared and did not reappear on Sunday]
Sparkles at the mall
This is a picture of the lovely Hijuki hair accessories stall at one of our big shopping malls, Barton Creek Square
. Some of the most interesting things you can buy in the mall are not from department stores but the little independently-owned stalls that line the walkway in between. These are the closest thing to a European market I have seen over here, but with wares that are somewhat more whimsical, and in this case glamorous!
The temperature has been rising up towards a hundred degrees farenheit in the last few days. Summer is here, and in Austin that means staying out of the sun as much as possible. Every little helps, including the shade offered by these small porches. This is an older residential area, with wood-framed houses and plenty of trees, which also provide lots of lovely shade. The houses almost certainly have air-conditioning inside nowadays.
Father and Son auto sales
The small business and the automobile are two of America's great traditions. Another is the big sign by the roadside. Without it, nobody would notice your store, set back from the big roadside full of big fast cars. This particular sign has a charming Southern home-made feel to it, which is interesting for a used car dealership (or "pre-owned", as they say nowadays).
Roads in the sky
What do you do if you want a new road but you don't want to knock down any buildings and killing grass or trees? Build it in the sky!
I do not know for sure whether that is the thinking behind Austin road-building, as there are also quite a few flyover roads on the edge of town, even where the only thing to fly over seems to be empty fields. America is a car culture, so of course there are a lot of big roads, and surely this helps with congestion problems (although you definitely don't want to get stuck in a slow lane during rush-hour in the summer when your air-conditioning is broken).
But they don't dominate the view. You only really notice them while on one. Real life is lived at ground level.
more mckinney mantra meditation material
Peace, man! (and/or person of indeterminate gender!)
By contrast with the previous picture, here is some "real Austin": a huge twisty light-up garden peace sign. This belongs to a house just around the corner from the famous 37th street, which is the one with the extravaganza of seasonal holiday decorations
every Christmakkahwanza. Some people leave their festivities up all year round. And I can think of no reason why they should not do that.
This is the view from the side of the road called I35 as you head into downtown Austin in your beaten-up old Volkswagen camper van. It basically looks like Dallas; a dusty concrete Texan desert city. There is the Capitol on the right, and on the left the big building with the armadillo roof.
Scenes such as this are vastly outnumbered by greener groovier ones in Austin, but the central business area of town certainly is as big, tall and impressive as one would expect from the capital city of Texas.
Keep Austin weird!
Austin is proud to be weird. And surely nobody in Austin is prouder to be weird than the owners of this house, which proclaims the famous legend KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD
right across the highway (or it would, if those lush green trees weren't in the way).
Welcome to Austin Daily Photo
This blog will be growing throughout the day, with a sidebar to follow shortly. To start us off there will be a few extra photos for luck.
Austin is a wonderful, fabulous, slackery, very very hot and above all weird
city. It is also a very green and friendly closely-guarded secret. So, we know you will love it as much as we do, but please don't all move here all
at once. Thank you!
This is the place to be on a just-getting-into-the-really-hot summer-now day like this: McKinney Falls State Park
. But if you are busy working like we're supposed to be, just sit back, stare at the picture in a Dazed and Confused
sort of a way, and ask your colleague to squirt you with the nearest plant sprayer.