If the kite festival isn’t a wholesome and welcoming enough event to win people over then there happens to be more in Austin that could reel them in.
Our host, Kadi, told us about an organization called Food is Free, which a good friend of hers is one of the leading members. They were having a volunteer day where they were placing and filling garden beds in the front yards of an entire neighborhood. When we showed up they were hustling from one yard to the next with more volunteers than they seemed to be prepared for.
Though they were organized and knowledgeable, they weren’t equipped to host fifteen to twenty volunteers at once, a problem that didn’t seem like much of a problem. We helped carry boxes, shovel dirt and glass, and fill the beds until it seemed like we were more in the way than in the mix. Overall the morning of work was a positive experience, but it didn’t seem necessary that we stick around for the rest of the time. We wandered around the house that several members live in to see their garden, compost bin, and chicken coop before taking off to see something else new. foodisfreeproject.org
That’s not enough you say? You think that Austin needs something for the whole family, huh?
Quit talking for a moment because we haven’t told you about Barton Springs.
Another Kadi recommendation, Barton Springs is a natural spring pool that’s been concreted in and made into a public swimming area. We put it off for a while, but we did eventually make it to the park on a warm sunny day. The place comes complete with a diving board, living and fake ducks, a sun-bathing hillside, and a vantage point to see the skyline of the city in the distance. You’d love it if you gave it a try.
Still not convinced? You’re a tough sell, that’s for sure.
Do you cycle like us?
Well than maybe you would want to know about the Austin Yellow Bike Project. A local non-profit that helps people build and repair bicycles.
With a half-working trailer and other little problems on our bikes we felt it was the right place to go. What we found: A quick release skewer for the axle of the trailer wheel, a nut for the other axle (which had come off on the way into Austin and had been replaced by a random nut on the road), a pair of shoes that clip into the pedals on the Giant, and a new acquaintance named Tyson.
Tyson helped us put everything together and told us about the apprenticing program that the AYBP has for people who want to learn more about maintenance. He already seemed well-educated on bike work, but he said he had learned plenty from volunteering there.
What’s that? You don’t like community based volunteer programs? You don’t swim and you hate big, public spaces? Wow, have you thought about Alaska? It might be the right fit for you, reader.
None of those things may appeal to you, we understand. We don’t consider our tastes to be the tastes of the masses all the time. We are on a cross-country bike trip after all, something most people are surprised anyone would do.
You could sit down on a warm day when the rest of the country is suffering the late-winter blues and relax with friends. That was another practice of ours’ while we were in Austin. Sit down, relax, and enjoy the people we’ve immediately made close friends with. Kadi and Anslee, our hosts for three weeks straight, were those people for us. They took photos like us and sang songs like us. They made for good company, which in no way made them unique amongst the rest of the people there. Austin isn’t just a town with a lot to do, it’s a place where you don’t have to do anything at all to know your day isn’t wasted. A town full of people with nothing better to do than to help one another and welcome strangers into their lives.
We ask you this reader, what could be more welcoming and wholesome than that?