Thursday, August 9, 2007

What Austin has taught me (better late than never)



Yes, yes, y'all, it's the leftover, but still highly anticipated Texas post!

***

This trip culminated in a number of lessons....

Lesson #1- If it weren't for their natural armour, evolution surely would have decimated the not-so-mighty armadillo. These fellows have the unfortunate habit of jumping into the air when frightened. They also enjoy roaming the Texas interstate.
As such, when facing a large pick-up truck coming rapidly in their direction, rather than just staying put, where the truck could easily pass over them without damage- they leap into the air, directly into their front grill.



I was told by more than a few Texans that the number of live armadillos they had seen were exponentially smaller than the multitudes they'd seen as roadkill.

Lesson #2- If you see an albino squirrel, take a picture.

On one of my first days on the UT campus, a few of us were wandering through a mini-grove of the pecan trees that dot the entire city.


Amongst the pigeons and regular squirrels that came out to play, there was a strikingly white squirrel.


We paid this fellow a fair bit of attention, and made a few jokes about his albino nature.
Only later did we realize that he truly was one of the rare albino squirrels, whose population are dwindling due to their lack of camoflauging ability.
We later returned with crackers to feed our pale new friend, but he had disappeared without a trace.
(I'm plugging my ears if anyone says anything about owls or hawks.)

Lesson #3- Sometimes, $1 drinks aren't worth the money.

(glad to say this one was learned through observation, rather than observation- my $7 was still well-spent!)

Lesson #4- Swans are evil. See earlier post.

Lesson #5- Texans really like their salt and butter. It has to be one of the only places on earth where there is actually a market for loaves of pre-buttered bread.

Lesson #6- If you hear thunder whilst in Austin- run. The sky is literally about to split in two. I've never seen such sudden, intense rainstorms. One day I was stuck on a coffee shop patio for an extra two hours while cascades of water poured off the roof. The woman I was with said it was nearly comparable to the monsoons she experiences while living in India.

Lesson #7- Texans absolutely massacre Canadians in terms of their school spirit. It seems every few blocks there is a store rife with Longhorn merchandise. And not just your standard t-shirts and beer mugs-- when you have three floors of merchandise in a Longhorn superstore, you can find all sorts of gems, including:



Longhorns toothbrushes (of which the Duke is now a proud owner)...



... charm bracelets



... serving trays



... Christmas ornaments



... door knockers

... and wheelchair wheel covers!
(which I sadly couldn't find a picture of)




Lesson #8- They say everything is bigger in Texas.
It is certainly true for their aloe plants!

(Okay, okay, I know it's lame. I was just looking for an innocuous way to say "everything's bigger in Texas" without anyone implying that I went on a cowboy rampage or anything.)




***

A few more pictures...

Sunsets were spectacular and lit the entire sky up, even when the actual sun was shadowed by buildings.




(That is the infamous tower from which a sniper killer a number of people in the 1960s- sort of takes away from the beauty, doesn't it?)



After our swimming and tubing plans were shut out due to the after effects of the afore mentioned torrential rain, we instead went on a river cruise.


Apparently the intense greenery is a bit unusual, and is also a side effect of all the rain.





***

While there's plenty more silly anecdotes, including those concerning world's greatest 80s cover band, our professor's attempts at reality TV, geek jokes taken too far, and mustache growing competitions, they seem a little more like "you have to be there" genres of tales, especially when they can't be accompanied by identifying photos.

Overall, however, Austin pleasantly disconfirmed my stereotypes of Texas, and the Longhorns may well hold a special spot in my heart.

15 comments:

Ant said...

Brilliant summary! Lovely pics...

Armadillos have a special place in my heart after reading that bit about their jumpability...

But that albino squirrel looks scarily like it's suffering from "the rage" wot they all had in 28 Days Later. Scary mary.

eric313 said...

My friend Michelle said to say you'll love Austin, but you were already there when she did! She's a native Texan, so she knows that city well.

Armadillos are the bad ass posseurs, aren't they? (or faux bad asses?) Poor little guys. A mammal trying to be a reptile, that has developed anxiety and other nervous issues. So wrong.

Love that squirrel pic. You're hilarious. If it survived past it's first years, its probably good at hidding, thus you didn't find it. They are a mutation, after all, one that doesn't get passed on very often for the reasons you said.

OK, OK, it's bed time. Had to drop by on this post, though. See you latter, friend. Peace out

captain corky said...

Great pics Princess! All of a sudden I have a burning desire to go hunting. ;)

Coy said...

I can't get past the squirrel. It looks possessed.

NamesAreHardToPick said...

Maybe it's a bad time to tell you this, but to most Texans Austin is not really considered "Texan." So if your stereotypes were refuted, haha, head to Dallas or Houston and they'll be happy to confirm them.

No seriously, some of those pictures were awesome. I had no idea there were white squirrels.

Heart Of Darkness said...

Love the squirrel, love the charm bracelet, and OMG, those sunsets?????

I'm SO going to Texas! Yes, ma'am! LOL

Airam said...

eww! Armadillo road kill????

That's nasty.

Yoda said...

I'll have nightmares of albino squirrels coming after my nuts!!

LOL!

If you talk of school spirit, you really ought to check out Ohio State. We beat everyone hands down. We've even bought a real life pop song and made it ours!! Hang-on-sloopy!

Lord Chimmy said...

Mustache growing contest eh? Sounds interesting...

[imagining myself with a mustache]

Maybe not.

I saw an albino squirrel once. No one believed me :(

eric313 said...

Yoda's right, Ohio State is everything in Ohio, especially near the capital.

University of Michigan is the worst. Even people who live here in Michigan rip on them--and with reason. Every UofM grad will find a way to fit graduating from UofM into the first minute of conversation you have with them, every time.

SMARTBuddy said...

Pre-buttered bread! Just when you think theres nothing left to invent, someone comes along with something amazing. Thats got to be the best thing since sliced bread.

Oh and ariam;

eww! Armadillo road kill????

That's tasty.

Ho Ho.

Crashdummie said...

Omg, I just loved the albino squirrel!
And regarding the swans, yeah I knew that… learnt it the hard way (or is it the evil way) ;)

Amazing pics!

LMizzle said...

I love that albino squirrel. It's creepy! Actually, someone should breed a squirrel with the Longhorn logo on it, I mean, no one would want to kill those little dudes!

Mailyn said...

OMG that squirel is sooo cute!!!!

cardiogirl said...

I have never once seen a white squirrel.

We have the pedestrian brown squirrels of course, but we also have black squirrels. Everyone who visits us here in our neck of the woods (Metro Detroit) muses at the black squirrels, but I find them passe.

But a white squirrel would give me pause.