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River Raft Race


Note really an old Austin thing but surely a Weird Austin Thing - The Lake Austin River Raft Race. This event was actually quite the center of attention in its day and had everyone thinking about how to enter. Quite a bit of beer was consumed during the

  • Conception
  • Planning
  • Construction
  • Floating
of each of these creations. Some photo evidence remains...


Last Bash on the Hill

Outdoors | Bands

Probably the last time I got to see Willie Nelson live would have been at an event held somewhere out near Lake Travis (at least I think it was - time erodes memories...)

It was an all afternoon and evening event called "The Last Bash on the Hill", and featured all sorts of bands in an outdoor setting. it was an ampitheatre sort of hill, with the stage at the bottom so just about everyone (and their dog - there were lots of those, too) could see and hear easily.

Willie came on just about sunset, doing his ever polished set. And about that time, the full moon rose from behind him! It was fantastic.

I missed one chance to hear Willie here in New Zealand back in the 70s, but nothing since. I can't help but think I got one of the best performances ever that night back outside of Austin.

And then walked back afterward to find that my truck, like the vehicles of many, many other people - had been *towed* for parking something like 3" onto the pavement of the road. Bugger...

Christmas In Austin

Outdoors | Scenes

Austin has always struggled for a mainstream Christmas tradition... the Zilker Tree, the Trail of lights, Congress Ave. lights. However, there has also always been a counter-culture season tradition as well.

- Take, for example, the (now!) well known "Hippie Christmas" on 37th street. Started off weird-as-you-please but it didn't take long for the Westlake set to start cruising through in Explorers with the windows rolled up.

- When was the first time that you saw a wild cedar tree on the side of the road in full Christmas decoration? Pretty common now.

- Before the Continental Club went legit, you could always count on them being there AND open.

- Christmas Tamales and Tamaladas: one of many Tejano traditions that I first experienced in Austin. Remember when they called it "Austin style Mexican food"?

- The town getting empty. Remember when the UT students leaving town made a significant dent in the population? Suddenly, everything was empty and the folks remaining had the bond of true Austin kinship.

All is not lost. I hear that there is a very healthy chapter of the Santa Rampage here in town. Good for them.

Forest Ridge


Back when trail riding was still pretty new, there were world-class trails to ride right here in our Austin City Limits. Forest Ridge stands out as one of the greatest. The entire length of old Spicewood Spgs. Rd. was bordered by cedar woods. These woods were laced with jeep track that was cut by the one-time residents of that area: the Jollyville Cedar Choppers. It was commonplace to enter the trail on the South side and be able to ride for hours and/or miles without retracing your path. You could make it to 3M, veer over to Jester, up to Great Hills, or just stay in the woods on highly technical, rocky paths. The water tower was the most common destination which reminds me of one of the greatest losses that has been incurred due to the zealousness of the nature conservationists.

Let's say your were heading for the water tower, once past it, there was a nice hill that had several highly technical paths to its summit. Once there, the landscape opened up to a beautiful open field about 1/2 acre in size. Who knows when or how it got started but in this open field, there were literally hundreds of rock sculptures, more like found object assemblies, scattered across the landscape. Some of these were random piles of rock yet some were amazingly artistic. They either resembled an intentional figure or had an abstract balance that conveyed beauty. In any case, this glade was one of those "secrets" that insiders enjoyed and the majority of the population had no concept of its existence. That is until the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation folks got involved.

First, fences were erected to deny access to the hill top (hikers, bikers, all denied). Artificially introduced plants were brought it to try to shield/hide previous trails. Weekly work teams spent time on the hill covering, hiding and generally trying to "naturalize" the area. I support conservation efforts and although I don't agree with some of their tactics, saving land as natural vs. developing it all is a good thing.

Barton Springs

Outdoors | Scenes

Who here remembers when topless bathing was commonplace at Barton Springs. Where has the rebellious nature (and tolerance of our population) gone to?