A Day at the Museum

While Barb and Tod were here for Thanksgiving, they took Harper to the Children’s Museum while I stayed home with Finn. She always loves it there and it’s a great way to burn some energy. I’m so glad Tod took all these pictures so I can see how much fun she had.

There’s an outdoor climbing structure that she’d never really climbed on before.

Harper at the Children's Museum

It’s pretty high up, so I was quite impressed to hear she made it all the way to the top! I love the thumbs up she gives them when she makes it to the top.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

There’s also this cylinder that blows scarves and I’d never seen it before. These pictures make me laugh at how excited she gets feeling the scarves land on her face. Pure joy.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

She tried the water room this time too, but wasn’t as big a fan.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper and Gram had fun making shadows.

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

Harper at the Children's Museum

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harper at the museum

A new children’s museum opened late last year in Austin and we finally made our way there. We got there before it opened and there was already a line to get in. Harper was a bit reserved at first, not sure what to make of all the kids. But we found a toddler area where she could run around and climb on things and she loved that. She got more out of the experience at this age than I expected. She didn’t want to leave!

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

Austin Children's Museum

this time of year when christmas is near

Well, it was our first Thanksgiving in Austin and we decided to go big…like everything else in Texas. We had Drew’s whole family down! For most of them, it was their first time visiting, so we wanted to show them around town. And I was really excited to cook my first turkey in my new kitchen!

Drew’s dad and sister were the first to arrive. We started the holiday at the Oasis on Lake Travis for a sunset meal.

Oasis

The Oasis was decked out in holiday decor, even though it was warm enough to sit outside. Yes, this is still weird to me.

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Then we went to Uncorked, a wine bar, to have a flight of wine before my brother-in-laws flew in later that night. We sat outside on the patio with a great view of downtown.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

The next day, it was turkey time baby. I put on my new apron that Drew’s Grandma made for me (I love it!) and got the snacks started while the turkey was in the oven. Thank heaven for my sister-in-law – what a big help she was. She and I were cookin’ like it was elimination round on Top Chef.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

The turkey was perfect!

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

The meal went off without a hitch.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Even the kitties got to partake in a little turkey action.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

For the 2nd half of the weekend with Barb (Drew’s mom) and Tod, we walked down SoCo, the Ladybird Lake trail and ate dinner at Eastside cafe. We also went to the Zilker botanical garden. Unfortunately the nice weather turned a little cool and windy, but it was still better than northern Illinois – so they were all good sports.

Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

After the botanical garden, we walked around the UT campus a bit before everyone headed back to the airport.

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

Thanksgiving in Austin 2011

All in all, it was a great holiday weekend with family and we were so excited to have them visit. The cats were so excited from all the excitement, they slept all day. Oh wait, they do that every day.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “This Time Of The Year” by Ray Charles

i love it when we’re cruisin’ together

Back in September, I had a Groupon for a riverboat cruise on Lady Bird Lake. It was a fun way to see the city and get some pictures from a different perspective. Quite a bit different than the Chicago architecture tour we went on, but I like the quaintness of cruising down the little lake in Austin.

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

You can see stains from the bats that live under Congress Bridge.

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise

we’ll be walking in the sun and share our joy with everyone

As part of the ACL festival last weekend, Dell and Google+ hosted a photowalk in Austin where a bunch of photographers got together to walk along the lake and snap photos. And anyone was invited! Even the @scobleizer was there! (That’s Robert Scoble for you non-tech geeks.)

We started the morning by meeting near the lake to get a group photo.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

We saw this mysterious, futuristic contraption on the lake as we walked along the trail. Someone said it was a docking station for kayaks and canoes. I think it was probably a time machine.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

A photographer brought a model. She was a real trooper – she even laid down in the dirt at one point.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

This was my entry to the contest at the end. It is the bottom of what used to be a fountain. Very sad – that’s what the drought has done to Austin. Crumbled under my feet.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

This father sun duo drove up from San Antonio very early that morning.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Here’s Robert Scoble photographing Thomas Hawk laying in the dirt that used to be the fountain. Lotus Carroll (a blogger and photographer) is standing over him.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Thomas Hawk walks along the trail with Dave Cohen and Vincent Mo from Google+.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Winning.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Robert Scoble chats up some photographers during our break for breakfast tacos.

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

After we arrived back at our destination, all the photographers picked one photo to upload on one of the Dell laptops they had setup in the hotel. The hosts of the event judged the photos and handed out prizes to the winners. A lucky few won tickets to the ACL festival!

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

Austin Photowalk with Dell and Google+

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Walking In The Sun” by The Zombies

the focus is sharp in the city

Chimpsy was offering a Groupon for a photography fieldtrip in Austin, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some tips and walk around the city with the sole purpose of taking pictures. There were about 10 of us with varying skill levels. We met at Progress Coffee in east Austin and walked around a few blocks experimenting with composition, aperture and shutter speeds.

Here are some of the shots I took. I mostly wanted to get some interesting views of all the colorful, eclectic places on east 6th street.

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

East Austin

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “The Camera Eye” by Rush

release the bats!

Over Labor Day weekend, we decided it was finally time to go see the Austin bats. Why would we want to go see bats? For some reason, the largest colony of Mexican Free-tail bats in North America have decided to live under the bridge in downtown Austin during the warmer months (March-October.) Late August is the best time to go because the baby bats that were born during the summer are old enough to accompany the mommy and daddy bats on their nightly hunt for food. (Usually the baby version of anything is really cute, but not in this case.) There are around 1.5 million living under the bridge. So it is a big attraction in Austin. The more bats the better!

We had no idea that this was an attraction until we got here and everyone told us we had to go see the bats. That didn’t sound so great to me, but I thought it’d be a good photo opportunity. Turns out, it’s hard to photograph those suckers when they fly so fast. Plus, they’re really small.

We got there early to get a spot on the bridge and as we walked under the bridge to get to the other side, you could hear the bats starting to squeak and flap as they woke up. And it smelled really bad. Tons of people had already started gathering around the bridge.

There was everything from birds…

Austin Bats

…to kayaks…

Austin Bats

…to hyrdobikes…

Austin Bats

…to larger bat-viewing cruise boats. They all gathered near the bridge to watch the bats fly out.

Austin Bats

We staked out a spot on the bridge and waited for the sun to set.

Austin Bats

Then we started hearing a faint flapping sound and suddenly the bats started pouring out below us!

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Soon, they started making a corkscrew formation as they headed east along the lake.

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

The whole colony took around 3 or 4 minutes to fly out. They eat hundreds of thousands of pounds of insects every night. That’s probably why they are so welcome in Austin. My pictures didn’t turn out as well as I’d hope, so maybe next time we go I’ll photograph from underneath the bridge.