Friday, June 02, 2006

Feelin' Real Urban

There's been a lot going on and a lot to report but I thought I would start with the story of our family outing two Saturday's ago as I write this (Friday 2 June 2006). The Saturday before Memorial Day weekend was the Saturday before the Austin Cool Homes Tour, of which our house was to be one. The week leading up to the tour had been quite busy and stressful. By the Saturday before the tour we were ready for some sort of outing.

Detail of engine drive mechanism
As it happened the Union Pacific railroad was bringing a 19th-Century steam train to town Saturday morning. I like trains and Dada likes trains and Julie likes trains so we thought we would go. The train was coming to the Amtrak station, which is just north of Town Lake, about 1.5 miles from our house and easily accessible by bicycle.

So we loaded Dada into her bike seat and pedaled down to the train station. This was at about 10:00 a.m. (the train was supposed to arrive at 10:45 but got there early). We got to the station and felt very smug about having ridden our bikes as there was no parking. We explored the train and waited for them to move it back and give us the show of having it pull into the station, which was pretty cool. While waiting for the train we got to see an Amtrak train and a freight train go by.
Diesel and Steam
When the freight train went by it passed the steam train and we were in position to get a shot of the diesel and steam engines side-by-side.

Once we had gotten to see the train in motion we got on our bikes and headed back toward home, first stopping at this little grocery store that's no too far from our house. It's a boutique sort of place specializing in fancy foods, high-priced bottled water, and yummy sandwiches.
Dada eating chips at the neighborhood store
They have a little patch of shaded lawn and blankets available so you can have a little picknic. We bought some water and some potato chips that were, without a doubt, the best chips I've ever eaten. After our snack we got back on our bikes and continued on home.

This whole outing was just the sort of thing that we wanted to have by moving closer in--the ability to get to lots of interesting places on foot or by bicycle, to generally be more physically active while pursuing our day-to-day activities, to be able to go to local businesses, and generally be part of a distinctive neighborhood with lots of variety.

If we had been at our old house it would have been a much bigger deal because we would have had to go in the car, it would have taken more effort to get out of the house, we wouldn't have gone to the little store (which has no counterpart in our old neighborhood) etc. etc.

So I'm pretty happy about that. Just this evening we rode over to the ice cream place that is near our house and ran into some of our neighbors from down the street.


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