Monday, March 13, 2006

Austin Redux

Yesterday, with AWP over and the heft of books and other literature in my bags to prove it, I decided to stick around for half a day and then drive back to Tucson.

Before getting to that adventure, however, two notes:

  • There will be a quiz at the end of this blog for a free copy of my book, Riverfall, including postage...!
  • Caught on film: just one of the thousands of infamous Austin grackles:

Grackle.
From beak to tail, this bird is probably a good 18 inches long!
. . . .

Back to the subject at hand: I met with Austin's civic arts coordinator, Janet Siebert, who took me on a driving tour around the downtown area, as well as the source of Barton Springs at Zilker Park. We specifically concentrated on Austin's 2nd Street District, which stretches along 2nd and 3rd streets between Town Lake (which is actually the Colorado River, though not the Colorado River that cuts the Grand Canyon, et. al.) on the south, the Austin Convention Center on the east, and Shoal Creek on the west. The next issue of Terrain.org will highlight this series of redevelopment projects as our UnSprawl case study, and it's always valuable to tour the site(s) with a local expert. Janet provided loads of good information, not to mention good company, and the least I could do then was treat her to lunch, where I had a delicious chile relleno topped with salsa verde. Mmmm. After lunch, Janet dropped me back off at the Radisson and for the next two hours I walked around, camera eager and ready in hand:

Here are a few photos from the 2nd Street District area:




The goal of the 2nd Street District is to create a retail ground level from the Convention Center west, to draw more foot traffic to southwest downtown while also providing residential and office space. This building features lofts over ground-level retail.
. . . .




Looking northeast, towards the center of downtown, from a soon-to-be-developed lot north of 2nd Street.
. . . .




This concrete building skeleton sits no further along since Intel pulled out around 2000. It will be demolished and a federal courthouse built here (which is challenging from a pedestrian-oriented design perspective due to overwhelming security design parameters required by new federal buildings).
. . . .




360, a new high-rise condo development on the west side 2nd Street, not far from Shoal Creek.
. . . .




A fair amount of redevelopment, such as these live/work units just west of the 2nd Street District, has already occured.
. . . .




A pedestrian bridge links a walking path along Town Lake at the confluence of Shoal Creek.
. . . .




The new Austin City Hall, set between 2nd Street and Cesar Chavez (1st Street).
. . . .




An old firetower set against Austin's expanding downtown and tucked along the northern edge of Town Lake's parks.
. . . .




Crossing Congress Street, looking north toward the Texas state capitol building.
. . . .

After walking a couple hours I was pretty pooped, but had that long drive back to Tucson to think of. At first I figured I would stop for the night in Fort Stockton or El Paso, but the closer I got to Tucson the closer I got to home, and I wanted to be home, so I drove on through and, 14 hours after leaving Austin, pulled wearily into my garage at 3:07 a.m. (4:07 a.m. Austin time).

A few notes on the drive home: The subtitle of this trip could be "The Strange and Varied Animals of Texas." You may recall the many animals I saw on my way in, and of course the ludicrous grackles. On the way back, I saw the requisite sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, and cattle; but also llamas and, at the joining of U.S. 290 and I-10, in Kimble County, a few different types of African gazelles. Must be a game farm. I looked for Vice President Cheney, but didn't see him so figured I was relatively safe.

And in the evening, there were all these large jackrabbits on the edge of the interstate, just watching the traffic speed by. Kind of eerie, these critters.

Here's a shot as I drove off into the sunset, somewhere west of Ozona, Texas, though no rabbits just yet:

And finally, the quiz. The first person to correctly answer this question will receive a free copy of my book (since I came back with twenty extra copies), including shipping:

Q: Whose newest book of poems, which I purchased and so is listed in a previous blog entry, has such poems as "Canoeing with Alligators, " "First Day Without You in 99 Years," and "Johnny Carson in Baghdad." The last poem should guide you especially....

4 comments:

shann said...

i could've sworn i just commented but it's 86 here today (very unseasonable!) and all the storm windows are still down.

I said the titles sound like Tony Hoagland and some other things but I have to go pick up the daughter at the school.

I love all the new changes in Austin- i haven't been back since...uh, 2004?

shann said...

no- it's not- but it's another of my favorite poets- Naomi Shihab Nye!

i just gave her book This Same Sky to a teacher recently- It's a great collection of poems "from around the world'

shann said...

I am so bad at directions-
You and yours

must be because I own her others-

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Yes, You & Yours it is. Good job! She read mostly from that book at AWP. She's a great reader. Book coming your way soon: just email me your address....