Days 12-13: La Grange – Bastrop – Austin (90 miles trip total 630 miles)
Arriving in Austin, the state capital of Texas, has confirmed our decision to abandon the rest our trip and return home. Life in the small rural towns we have been through had seemed relatively unaffected save for strategically placed, Texas sized, containers of hand sanitisers.
The city centre, which should have been throbbing with the annual South by Southwest Country Music festival is eerily quiet. Restaurants including fast food joints like McDonald, if not closed, offer only take-out options. A new statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 people means that motels no longer offer breakfast.
Having covered marginally under half of the distance to our intended destination of El Paso, British Airways has allowed us to change our return journey. We will fly from Austin via Dallas on Sunday, arriving in London on Monday morning.
Spring is a wonderful time to visit southern Texas, the trees are newly dressed in a complementing cacophony of green leaves. The wild spring flowers blanket the verges and fields with a riot of colour and buzz with bee and insect life. The fields are full of newborn calves and foals. The sweet scent of the flowers, song of little birds feasting on humming insects and screeching birds of prey harvesting their smaller cousins have been the sound track to our final couple of days in the hillier, ranch land approaching Austin.
The weather, until today, has been balmy warm if a little humid. High summer would be almost unbearable.
Whilst the centre is deadly quiet, the parks along the Colorado River, which bisects the city was throbbing with people running, cycling and dog walking. We were luck enough to witness the nightly exodus of hundreds of thousands of tiny Mexican free-tailed bats from their roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Apparently, this is the largest urban bat population in North America. As dusk falls the bats stream out to feast on tiny insects over the river.