Like most great cities, Austin was built along the banks of a river. Back in 1960 a dam was constructed on the Colorado River - not to be confused with the great southwestern river of the same name that carved the Grand Canyon - to form the "Town Lake", a reservoir created as a cooling pond for a new power plant. During the 1970's the unkempt shoreline of the lake was converted from a public "eyesore" to a beautiful city park through efforts sparked by First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Shortly after her death in 2007, the lake was renamed in her honor. Today it is a favorite recreation spot of Austinites, teeming with bikers, hikers, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats year-round. The 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail circles the lake with a combination of mostly crushed granite pathways, stretches of concrete and bridges, and most-interestingly a beautiful boardwalk on the south side of the lake that would be a great model for the banks of Boston's Charles River.
With no disrespect to Santa Nancy, wanted to create a way for Wyatt, 5, and Ellis, 3, to give a holiday gift to Mother Nature. The plan to make natural bird feeders began with a hunt for pine cones that we could dip in peanut butter and coat with birdseed. Trouble is there are no pine trees anywhere in Austin! We headed 30 miles east of Austin to the 6,600 acre Bastrop State Park - home to the famous "Lost Pines," an isolated region of loblolly pines and hardwoods. This time of year the place was deserted, but they were still collecting the $5 per person entrance fee at the gate. We easily gathered dozens of beautifully-shaped pine cones and enjoyed a leisurely hike through the woods on a beautiful early-winter afternoon. Days later we were elbow deep in peanut butter and birdseed on our AirBnB patio workshop with. the boys.
In addition to the vibrant sound of its active music scene, the other sound that is quintessentially Austin is the omnipresent "grackle", a large, lanky, long-legged blackbird that often sports a long v-shaped tail. These birds are everywhere in Austin and their distinctively loud and incessant calls are the soundtrack to any time outdoors. We especially like it when they make their dramatic upward-sweeping calls.
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Nancy McCabe &