Embassy to Capitol to “World’s Largest Urban Bat Colony”

The end of day 1 of my four day training found me with the beginnings of a migraine.  I asked a few of my colleagues if they would be interested in walking to the closest pharmacy with me so I could pick up some medication.  “Just Two-It,” don’t you know? Not wanting to stay in the hotel, four of my colleagues said they’d like to tag along.

So we headed up Congress Avenue over the Colorado River.  As we were waiting for the light to turn green, I turned to them and said, “You know, the State Capitol is ‘just’ right there …” They laughed at me with one of those “sure, whatever” laughs.  You know the kind of laugh where the person is saying in so many words, “Eat sh*t & die.  I’m NOT doing that!” We headed up the next few blocks to the pharmacy and I didn’t say anything else about walking up to the Capitol.

After we all finished checking out, one of my colleagues turned to me and asked, “Lisa, didn’t you say you wanted to walk up to the Capitol?”  I told them we could do whatever they wanted and I’d walk Congress Avenue later.  Truth be told, by that point, we really weren’t that far away from the Capitol.  Maybe four or five blocks’ distance.  They all wanted to keep going north, so we headed on up the hill.  We wandered around the entrance to the building but didn’t go in since it was after 5pm.  We found a nice place to sit and chat … and eat our snacky-poos (this is the Spook’s word … ) before taking “touristy” pictures and heading on back to the hotel.

While we were munching on our very healthy snacks (really!) I started my sales pitch extolling the virtues of 5ks, 10ks, & the half marathon.  I told each of my colleagues that they had it in them to do the Rock ‘n’ Roll with me in November and that they should really think about it.

Wouldn’t you know that on the way back to the hotel, all they wanted to talk about was whether I was serious about them being able to finish 13.1 miles?  I may kid about some things but when it comes to my belief that everyone should at least try what seems like an impossible goal at least once in their lives, I’m very serious.  I’m still giddy with excitement!

We headed into the hotel with our purchases, each of us going to our respective rooms to clean up for “happy hour” and dinner.  Each of my colleagues were eager to guess the distance of our late afternoon trek and they couldn’t wait for me to plot it out on my Daily Mile.  Two of them were convinced we had walked over 5 miles.  I told them I thought it was more like 4 but that I knew I’d be disappointed with the total once I had it plotted.

All totalled, the Embassy to Capitol & back trek was 3.25 miles.  I shared this information with them and while two were in disbelief that the distance we had covered was only a little over 3 miles, two others were ecstatic that they managed to walk that distance … and almost keep up with me!  I really have to stop saying “only x miles.”  While it might not be a significant distance to me, for others it might as well have been a marathon.

We sat in the atrium to enjoy “happy hour” (y’all know I don’t drink, right?) and one of my colleagues started fidgeting with her watch.  I knew what that meant.  We had missed the bats yesterday evening and she & I had made a commitment to see them this evening.  So a few of us headed across the street and down below the bridge to get a good spot for some bat sighting.

Am I glad we went!  The Congress Avenue bridge in Austin is home to the world’s largest urban bat colony according to the Austin American Statesman (at least that’s what the banner said).  The mood down on the bank of the mighty Colorado was festive with small groups of friends and families gathered to watch the bats make their evening trek across the evening sky.  The sun was slowly setting and the wind was picking up.  I commented to one of my colleagues that I wished I had brought my sweater because it was starting to get a bit chilly.  We had been listening to the bats for about 30 minutes but didn’t see but one or two when all of a sudden, everybody grew silent as the bats began emerging from their roosts under the bridge.  It was amazing on so many levels!  The fact that all eyes turned toward the heavens to watch the little creatures make their evening trek eastward, the fact that all of us … the old, the young, “the tall & the small” as Dr. Seuss would say … turned as one unit in hushed awe first westward toward the bridge and then all making a slow 180 toward the east to watch the swarm fly into the darkening sky in some crazy unified dance to find their dinner.

I turned to one colleague and we both said at the same time, “Wow!”

That’s all we could say.

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