The next day, undeterred by the swarms of insects that seem prepared to hunt me down, we hike down the Greenbelt which meanders along Barton Creek, squelching through mud puddles and jumping over rock piles. Despite flooding in other areas of Hill Country, here the water runs cool and clear, entire families with their inner tubes and devil-may-care attitude floating in the serene pools. It felt like the five mile trek took the entire morning, even longer than it took us to scale a mountain in the desert, and we turned back when the trail we were following devolved into large puddles filled with squirming tadpoles. There was a brief pause in the rushing creek water for a fully-dressed dip to cool down, during which he slips and almost falls, which we capture on video.
As usual, the food in Austin doesn’t disappoint. Burgers with doughnut buns, more doughnuts smothered in Nutella, vegetarian restaurants that must offer cheese and eggs, the mother of all quesos, and casual dining spots where the produce is grown fresh in the restaurant garden out back. We hit up a barbecue restaurant - part of a gas station of course - and I almost drink the sauce straight from the bottle. Later my stomach hurts and no one wonders why.
The streets in Central Texas will bake a person alive, even in June, and we popped in and out of quirky shops partially for the A/C blast alone. A quick glance in a shop window was enough to remind me that as much as things change, so they also still stay the same. A tank top, running shorts, and backpack, almost 10 years later I was still dressed in the same uniform as I wore when I was in college. Getting carded at the restaurant later only underscored that point.
At night, it’s quiet, save for the flipping of pages. There is no tv in the cottage and we don’t even notice. The occasional cricket serves as background noise and falling asleep is almost as easy as falling in love.