Thursday, May 11, 2017

March 21, 2017 - Austin, TX

It was very cloudy this morning, but it felt warmer than it was yesterday.  We packed our lunches to go.

We were on our way to Sitagu Buddha Vihara at 9001 Honeycomb Drive, but we saw a sign pointing to Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center.  I was curious about it because it was not on my list of places to visit, and I made a turn to go there instead.

The parking lot was almost full, but I managed to find a spot.  Little far for Erwin to walk, but he said he will be alright.  The admission for Seniors (55 +) was $8 per person.  It does not accept Texas State Park Pass.  We were given a tour map. 

As we started walking toward the courtyard there was a group of people looking at something higher up.  A photographer was telling passerbys, including us, about the Great Horned Owl nest.  We could see the Mamma, but not the babies. The photographer thought there may be two or three babies.

It was in 1982 that the National Wildflower Research Center was founded by Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady, and actress Helen Hayes. Then in 1995 it was renamed to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  It is a botanical garden, about 10 miles southwest of Austin, TX. It has 279 acres, and displays only native plants and landscapes.

We spent over 2 hours meandering throughout the garden, checking out different flowers, bushes, trees, etc..  Texas bluebonnets were in full bloom.  A great relaxing place to spend a couple hours there!
Erwin loves wind chimes. He wants one for
our Lil' Home!

Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady, and the wife of
the 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson
Texas Bluebonnets

San Antonio Tower

Lunch break 
Sitagu Buddha Vihara was founded in 1996.    It is the center for overseas missionary activities.  This is the place where laypeople can mediate.  Fully ordained Buddhist monks live here and they study the Dhamma and mediation practice.  We met a full-time Buddhist monk, Ashin Cintita, who used to live in California, and we asked him questions.  He gladly answered our questions.  There are small houses, a dining hall, reception hall and twenty mediation cottages. 
We asked if we could go inside the temple, and were told that we need to remove shoes before getting on the temple ground.  Erwin did not want to go inside, so I went in alone.  It was fantastic and beautiful.  It was just two of us touring the area and it was so peaceful.
Inside the temple
Monk's residence
Dhamma Ceti Library
Ashin, the Buddhist monk walking after talking with us
We stopped by to visit Assumption Cemetery-Chapel & Mausoleum at 3650 South I-35 off the feeder road. The grounds were well-maintained and there were groundkeepers  checking, cleaning, pruning trees & shrubs throughout the cemetery. 
We met Christy, Erwin's niece, to go out for pizza at Home Slice.  Home Slice is an independent pizza place, serves New York style pizzas by the pie or the slice to go.  There are two places, one is a dine-in joint and the other is a takeout/slice joint.   The dining place was closed when we got there, so we went to More Home Slice place to order pizza slices.  It does have a dine in area, but is very small and limited, but we were lucky to find seats for three of us.  The pizza was very delicious.
On way back to the car Christy and I stopped to take pictures of murals. Austin has so many of them!  
Christy and I did our best not to smile....
After supper we hurriedly drove down to a parking lot near the bridge, walked down the hillside to the base of the Ann W. Richardson Bridge.  That area is excellent for getting a close-up view of the emergence of Mexican free-tailed bats.  

The best time to see the emergence is between March and October, 15-20 minutes after sunset. Back in 1980 the bridge was redesigned to create crevices for bat homes.  Austinities love that idea because the bats consume vast amounts of insects, including some of the most damaging agricultural pests.
After the sunset
We stayed and watched the emergence for more than 45 minutes, and there were MORE and MORE bats coming out of the crevices.  Christy said that sometimes it will take up to three hours before the last bat leaves the bridge!  That is probably over 2 millions bats living under the bridge.
Erwin's heel was starting to bother him, so he walked back to the car by himself, while Christy and I stayed a little while.  The path on the hillside was not in great shape, and there were small potholes, etc.   Christy and I were talking while walking up, but paused for a second.  At that second I stepped into a small pothole, "threw" my Canon camera forward unintentionally.  The camera landed on the path right in front of me, about 4 feet away.  At that moment Christy turned around to talk to me, but saw that I was about to fall and tried to stop it. It was too late! The right side of my face landed on the camera body!  Ouch!  I swore that I was going to have a broken tooth(teeth), broken nose and cracked cheekbone.  There were passerbys coming to the rescue, trying to help me get up, but Christy told them to wait.  One of them asked her if he should call 911 and  she told him she wanted to check first to see if I was bleeding or not. I stayed there motionless for a short while.  Finally, they moved me around, checked my face to see if it was okay.  No bleeding, no broken bones!  Wow! However, I had bad scrapes on my right arm and one area was badly swollen.
Christy had to run to the car to get Erwin to come over.  He had no idea what went on.  After I was up and tried to walk I then realized I had a torn thigh muscle. I limped a long way uphill to the car. 

Erwin stopped at a store to get some ice to be applied to my scrapes.  After we got back to the campground Erwin and Christy had to help me up inside the Lil' Home.  I was really very sore, went to bed very early.  Christy warned me that in the morning I may have black/blue bruise on my face. Let's wait til tomorrow morning to see if there is a bruise.


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