Today was the day of the Donut. We began the morning by walking 1.2 miles to Voodoo Donuts in downtown Austin. This is the same Voodoo that we went to in Portland several years ago. They were one of the first donut places to put lots of cereal, bacon, etc on their donuts. Today I got the Old Dirty Bastard; a donut topped with frosting, Oreo chunks, and a peanut butter drizzle. Yum!
Rob had the brilliant idea to see if there was a walking tour app. Sure enough, he found one, so we set out on our own. We chose one with 12 buildings in the area between where we were and the State Capitol building. We learned about some of the historic buildings, mostly from the late 1800s. While we were near the capitol we decided to stop in to check it out. As we crossed through the grounds we stopped to watch some grackles preening and showing off under some trees. The grackle is a small, black bird that does a funny little dance and makes noises like an old fashioned shutter camera.
Inside the capitol building, we were surprised by the number of other tourists. When we visited the Iowa state capitol last summer, we were just about the only tourists there. Maybe because they were not in session and Texas seems to be currently in session. Strangely, there were also a good number of people walking around inside the capitol wearing white lab coats. Lobbyists? Testifying before a committee? Lab field trip? Who knows.
After the app enabled walking tour (which we accidentally forgot to go to the last 2 stops) we started our scooter adventure. Austin loves its scooter share programs. There are 4 different companies that offer electric scooters scattered around the city. Tons of residents use them to get around, and it’s no wonder they are popular, with the atrocious traffic that Austin deals with. All morning we had seen scooter riders whizzing confidently down the sidewalks and bike lanes of downtown Austin. Earlier, we had installed the apps for a couple different companies, so when we were ready, we unlocked (via the app) 2 scooters from a company called Lime. The first unlock comes with some instructions on how to operate the scooter. You have to push off 3 times with your foot, then push the throttle down with your right thumb. There is a hand brake on the left handlebar just like on a bike. And away you go! Presumably. Rob seemed to get the hang of it faster than I did. I was pretty wobbly at first and kept putting my foot down. We found as we rode that it was better to ride in a bike lane if there was one – the road has fewer bumps (seems in sidewalks) and fewer pedestrians to avoid. The throttle was really sensitive, so it felt a bit like you were lurching forward quite a bit. Rob says (he was behind me) that it didn’t look like I was lurching, so that’s good. We rode south for 1.9 miles (thanks to a handy app that tracks the ride) for a total of 27 minutes. I noted that I generally rode about 8 mph on the sidewalk and made it up to about 12 mph when in a nice, smooth bike lane. I was pretty scared for about half of the ride, then started to settle into it more. My muscles were all kind of tight, and my thumb on the throttle started to get tired, but in the end it was fun. We stopped about 2 blocks shy of our destination because the sidewalk got narrower and there were road construction signs sitting on part of the sidewalk so we had to dodge them. When you finish, you just open the app, click “lock scooter” and take a picture of the location so the next person can find it. And just leave it there (well, move it off the sidewalk to a nice place that isn’t in anyone’s way). Voila! I hope more cities adopt these scooter share programs. I would certainly use them again.
Our destination on the scooters was Gourdough Big. Fat. Donuts. These donuts are even more insane than Voodoo. I ordered the Fat Elvis: giant donut covered with peanut butter frosting, grilled caramelized banana chunks, and 2 slices of bacon. I couldn’t even eat it all. But it sure was good!
After all that donut, I wanted to walk off some calories. We headed over to South Congress Street. It looked like an area of small, local shops. Sure enough, there were lots lined up all along Congress as we headed north toward our hotel. We did a bit of shopping: I picked up a super cute picture of a robot contemplating the stars by a local artist and Rob found a t-shirt with various tv robots on it. Not all the stores sold robot things, we just happened to be in the robot mood today, I guess.
When we arrived back at our hotel, we dropped off our goodies, rested our feet for a little bit, and then set out once again. This time we walked west along the river. There’s a nice walk/bike park following along the river that we took. We spotted turtles sunning themselves in the late afternoon sunshine. After a while, we crossed the river on a pedestrian bridge and followed the river back along the other side. All in all, my Fitbit says that we walked 8.72 miles today. That’s 19,126 steps. Whoa! My hips and feet are feeling it.
Upon arrival back at the hotel, I was in the mood for a refreshing drink so we sat outside by the river at the hotel bar and had drinks and pretzel bite appetizers. We felt so grown up sitting in the bar having drinks. The weather made it to the upper 70s today and very sunny.