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23 Jan 2011

Exploring South Texas; Part 2 - updated Oct 15, 2008

Ocean Breezes in Corpus, Full Moon in Austin

Ocean breezes in Corpus Christie; full moon in Austin

FROM SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

 map of South Texas map of Austin, San Antonio

Exploring Southern Texas

Corpus Christi

AUSTIN, TX, Oct 15, 2008 - The second stage of our tour of southern Texas took us to Corpus Christi, Elizabeth's birthplace (see the left map above).

As you can see, it was a gloomy and overcast day on the beaches of Corpus Christi right in front of the downtown area.  But the air was warm and balmy...

...so we enjoyed our walk on the beach in the steady ocean breezes.  Later that night, it rained quite heavily at times.

There were still some lingering clouds early in the morning the following day, but they eventually yielded to a hot sun.  By noon, Corpus Christi felt as steamy as if it were high summer, with temperatures probably in the low 90s.

Full Moon over Austin

The weather was pretty much the same all the way up to Austin (see the right map above). We finished the day by seeing the sun off into a lovely sunset in Zilker Park, next to the Colorado river that runs through Austin.

  

And then we welcomed Mr. Moon back in its full milky glow...

...while a pick-up soccer game went on well into the night.  On our way back through downtown Austin, we came across the biggest and best equipped Whole Foods store we have ever seen.  And this happened right after I had commented how we had not seen any Whole Food stores in south Texas and only a couple of Prius Hybrid cars.  The Texans still generally drive their big trucks and SUVs, depressed economic conditions or not.

Tour of Downtown Austin, State Capitol and TU

The following day, the weather in Austin was about as hot and humid as it was the day before in Corpus Christi.  We read with amusement e-mails from our friends in Arizona telling us about the cool spell back home (with temps in low 70s while we "enjoyed" the sweltering 90s in Texas).

Downtown Austin has a smattering of ornate old buildings, some of which you can see in that leftmost photo.  Then we headed to the State Capitol, only a few blocks away.  Just how changeable the weather had been can be seen from the two middle shots... the State Capitol in the rain, and in bright sunshine, only a little while later.

Inside the Capitol, right under the dome, where all of the above photos were taken, you can see Elizabeth dancing on the Lone Star of her home state, while I was more intrigued by the intricacies of the dome's design.

Shiny marble hallways and columns connect the various chambers of the State Capitol (left).  The Senate Chamber, shown in the three right shots above, has a very cheerful feel to it, perhaps because it is so bright and spacious at the same time.  We spent a fair bit of time talking to a curator there about the history of Texas and the various battles that shaped both its character and its borders.

The monument in the left shot has been erected to honor all those who gave their lives for Texas at Alamo in 1836.  One of Elizabeth's distant relatives was one of the Alamo heroes-martyrs.  We saw his name etched in the wall when we were at Alamo two days earlier.  But his name was missing from the list carved into this monument in Austin.  So Elizabeth talked to the government clerks about it in the old Treasury Chamber (middle right), who took it upon themselves to correct this injustice.  Everybody was very nice and very apologetic to her.

Who says that a small size and a female gender can prevent a Texas girl from firing big canons like the one above, given to the state of Texas by Thomas Jefferson on the occasion of its statehood. The two canons had been used in battles during the American Revolution.

 

After the Capitol, we checked out St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral, which was very ornate and beautiful, both inside and out.

We next visited the Texas University campus, north of the Capitol, where we saw a statue erected to a different kind of hero.  Earl Campbell, the Heizman Trophy winner, who later went on to an illustrious professional football career in the NFL, was honored with a larger than life sculpture at the entrance to the Longhorns stadium.  That's where we decided to call it a day, two Arizona desert rats worn out by the Texas heat and humidity in the middle of October!  :-) We ended up having dinner at Hudon's on the Bend (right) in Austin's Hill Country, a place that has been reportedly consistently ranked as the No. 1 restaurant in the Texas capital.  It's not easy to find nor close to downtown, but it will be worth the trek the next time you're in Austin.

And that's all she wrote from Austin and from this quick trip to South Texas.

Also check out... An All-day Fiesta in San Antonio

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