Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GOING BATTY IN AUSTIN, TEXAS!

My oldest daughter Jennifer earned a one week trip to Tastefully Simple's Sunset River home in Austin, Texas for the second year in a row! This year I got to tag along for the week!
These photos were taken outside the beautiful home we called our own for the week.
Yesterday we went to the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary, which is not like other zoos. It is a zoo that rescues animals that have been abandoned, neglected, or abused.
As Kari was feeding one of the animals, Toni, one of the zoo's staff, told her the story of how the zoo acquired the goat. For some reason, Toni took a liking to our little group and proceeded to give us a guided tour of the zoo for the next hour or so. She was amazing!
The zoo houses seven gorgeous tigers, all rescued from bad situations. These animals were magnificent. Luckily, this tiger decided to pay us a visit!
The story of Leroy was especially touching. He was literally rescued from a junkyard! He was in such bad shape that he permanently lost his mane. His lioness "wife" was shot by the junkyard owner in front of Leroy. He obviously loves his new home as he was sprawled in the sun "chillin."
Even the birds were rescued from abusive owners. This little guy was quite the talker! He loved saying "Hello!"
Jayce was mesmerized by all of the animals and in spite of having no nap, he had a blast! The zoo houses more than 300 animals from 100 species. I highly recommend a trip to the Austin Zoo !
Next we headed into Austin and found a gluten-free bakery. This is just one of the treats in store for us! The boys didn't know what to pick, but Aidan decided on these chocolate treats and Ryan had a strawberry filled cupcake with cream cheese frosting.
After dinner, we went on a boat cruise on Lady Bird Lake to see the bats fly out from under the Congress Street Bridge. In March 750,000 pregnant female free-tail bats arrive from Monteray, Mexico and nest under the bridge. A few months later, they give birth and the numbers of bats soar to over 1.5 million!
As we cruised the waters of the lake, our guide told us quite a bit about Austin history, especially the downtown area.
Then the bats came! As the sun set you could hear them and then see them soar by the hundreds of thousands out from under the bridge. We were literally right underneath them on the boat! It was an amazing sight!
The bats form columns and head for the hill country in search of food. The bats bring in more than $8 million in eco-tourism each year and save farmers millions of dollars as they provide natural pest control.
Today I think we will spend the day poolside and just relax and enjoy the beautiful Austin sunshine!

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