Day 36 – Another Down Day in Austin

The Broken Spoke

One of Austin's signature institutions: The Broken Spoke--a mecca for Western swing dancing.

28 April 2011 (posted the next morning). I’m just back from The Broken Spoke, an Austin institution. Alex Long and Kim Miller, with whom I stayed in Wimberley and who were here at the Pfeiffer’s tonight, took me there after the gathering here wound down. The Broken spoke is a Texas country western dance hall—one of the classic ones I’m told. Funky, full of memorabilia about the famous musicians who have performed here, crowded with people serious about swing dancing.

While I wasn’t the only guy there with shorts on (there was one other that I saw), I most certainly was the only one with shorts and flip-flops. It was the flip-flops or my biking shoes with the steel cleats in them; in retrospect, I think I should have worn the biking shoes. Nearly everyone else had cowboy boots on.

The Broken Spoke

I didn't quite fit in my my shorts and sandals--but nobody gave me a hard time. This is Austin--a city of tolerance.

The Broken Spoke

The ceiling was so low that the stand-up base couldn't quite!

Kim is very much into swing dancing and knew a lot of the regulars at the Broken Spoke. Alex is a Tango dancer and said he struggles with the different beat of swing dancing. I’m a watcher—and swing dancing is quite entertaining to watch!

My main action item today was to ship my little-used tent back home. Along with it, I sent a windbreaker, one of my two large water bottles, a pair of wool socks, and a few other items. I suspect I’ll be five pounds lighter when I resume my journey—not an insignificant savings!

Bedestrian bridge over Lady Bird Lake

This is the pedestrian bridge I crossed coming into Austin two days ago. It is underneath the Mopac Highway.

Karen told me of a shipping place less than a mile from here, so that was easy. From there, I biked over to a macrobiotic restaurant off Lamar and across the Colorado River, where I met Bill Christianson—someone I hadn’t seen in years. He creates and manages websites—many that are green-building or sustainability related. He’s been doing it a while, as evidenced by his domain “”

Pfluger Bridge

Pfluger Birdge over Lady Bird Lake--a wonderful multi-use pedestrian bridge.

Pfluger Bridge

Another shot of Pfluger Bridge. A happenin' place with a piano and all!

Spiral ramp to Pfluger Bridge

A spiral ramp provides biking access up to Pfluger Bridge on the north side of Lady Bird Lake.

Austin from across the water

A look at Austin across Lady Bird Lake from the outlet of Barton Springs.

From there, I biked to Barton Springs, which a number of people had told me about. Fascinating. A deep artesian spring from which approximately 31 million gallons per day of crystal-clear, deep blue water well up. They have a swimming area at the spring, but that was closed for cleaning today—I guess that happens every Thursday. But there were plenty of people enjoying the water just below the more formal swimming area.

Barton Springs

The main springs and swimming area were closed today; I gather that they close on Thursdays for cleaning ("spring cleaning"!). Note the SCUBA diver on the left; another one or two are deeper in the springs.

Barton Springs

Just below the developed springs. An average of 31 million gallons of water per day flow out of the springs.

Eliza Springs

Barton Springs, including Eliza Springs right next to it, are the world's only known location for the Barton Springs salamander--a federally endangered species.

Barton Springs

A wide, deep stream channel flows from the springs into Lady Bird Lake (a section of the Colorado River).

Back at the Pheiffer’s I did a little planning for the next few days (routes and research into motels and WarmShowers hosts). And then helping Peter, when he got home, get a few things together for the evening gathering. Karen had done nearly all the preparation and insisted all day that she didn’t need any help, but I was able to lend a hand with the cooler for drinks.

Great conversations over wonderful food. Doug Seiter was here, along with Gail Vittori, Alex Long and Kim Miller, Scott Witt and his daughter, along with the Pfeiffers and me. A nice group to be sure. We didn’t solve all the world’s problems, but there were lots of stories told about the earliest days of the Austin green building movement—and this is where it really started. Then Alex, Kim, and I went out to the Broken Spoke.

With the late-night activity, it’s looking more likely that I’ll leave on Saturday rather than tomorrow (as I had been planning). That way, I’ll be able to go to Mary McLeod’s retirement party, where I’ll see several folks I know who weren’t able to make it tonight. Then on to La Grange!