Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Austin Bats

Austin is the capital of Texas and is home to the University of Texas and a thriving music scene. It definitely seems like a great place for young professionals (basically, I’m way too old for the bar scene) and is a bit of a foodie town too. With all of these trendy restaurants, I joked with some friends that I saw a unique, local Chinese restaurant called P.F. Chang’s. I got a laugh.

The city is also famous for North America's largest urban bat population, many of whom live under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin. I figured this was a must-see activity during my recent time in Austin. Since I was in Austin in early November, I was worried that the bats would have flown south to Mexico for the winter, but I had some time one evening and the bridge was only about a half-mile from the hotel, so I decided to check it out.

I got to the bridge around 6:35. There were people gathered on and around the bridge with more arriving as it got closer to sunset. There were also several large boats filled with people, so in my mind, with a few hundred people on land and on water, some of the bats were still in town. Meanwhile, there was lightning in the distance but with no thunder, no rain in the forecast according to my weather app, and no one leaving, I stuck around.

There are bats in my neighborhood in Northern Virginia. I regularly see them on my golf course walk at dusk. At around 7:15 in Austin, it was beyond dusk, and there were still no bats. I thought about leaving but decided to wait a few more minutes. At 7:24, I felt the first drop of rain and started walking/running towards the hotel. It was too late. About a minute later, the downpour began. I made it about a block or two and found an awning to stay under until the rain slowed down. The awning was across the street from the downtown Austin P.F. Chang’s. Yes, the restaurant was mocking me.

Despite the weather app on my phone saying that the rain would stop in 8 minutes and then indicating that the weather was clear, the rain did not slow down. After about 20-25 minutes, I decided to call a rideshare even though I was only about 4-5 blocks away from the hotel. After waiting about 7 minutes and the ride still not arriving, the rain actually did slow down. I cancelled the ride (a waste of $6) since I thought it was ridiculous to get a car for a 2-minute drive. I started walking and immediately stepped into a puddle since there's no adequate drainage with so much rain so quickly. And then the rain picked up again. I didn't get back to the hotel until after 8:00 and still managed to get soaked.

Back to the bats, either they already flew south to Mexico for the winter or knew it was about to rain and figured they would just stay under the bridge and let the idiot humans get wet. Either way, I felt like Dean Keaton at the end of The Usual Suspects. THERE WERE NO F'ING BATS!

(This video is definitely not suitable for work or kids.)

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