Joe and I just came back from a whirlwind 5-day trip to New Braunfels, Austin & San Antonio, Texas. We’ve done bits and pieces of this trip almost every year since 2006 or so, but this was the first time we brought our friends Norman (Normy) and Samantha (Sam). They live in Georgia, had never been to Schlitterbahn New Braunfels (our main reason for the annual jaunt…although Buc-ee’s, one of the best hotel employees in the world and some of our favorite restaurants in the area [The Salt Lick and Huisache Grill, among others] are a close 2nd, 3rd and 4th), and Sam had never been to Texas, period. So we had reason to do a few more touristy things than usual, including the Austin sign and the Alamo (both of which were perfect opportunities to add to my photobomb collection, LOLOL!).
Normy had mentioned he would like to see the bats in Austin. Now, Joe and I had already tried to see the bats twice before while standing on the South Congress Bridge, with absolutely NO results. So we figured this visit would be “3 strikes and you’re out,” or “3rd time’s the charm.”
To help our chances of actually seeing bats, we decided to book seats on a Lone Star Riverboat cruise – a 1-hour cruise with a guided tour of the area surrounding Lady Bird Lake, before stopping near the South Congress Bridge to [hopefully] see the bats). Tickets were only $12 and it was BYOB, so we figured even if we still didn’t see any bats, at least we’d be happy ;-).
Check-in for our 8:00pm cruise began at 7:15pm, although there were already people queuing up at 6:30pm or so. At 7:15pm, they started loading us onto our choice of 3 electric pontoon cruisers (albeit with recommendations based on how many were in our party. i.e., we were a party of 4, so they recommended we go on the Little Star, which had 9 rows of 4 seats with an aisle down the middle).
At 8pm sharp, we started our tour of the lake, with our captain, Bella, explaining the history of the lake, the successful efforts to clean it up in the 1980s (thanks in part to Ladybird Johnson), and the buildings and park that surround it.
When it was almost time for the bats to come out, we floated back to the bridge and waited. It didn’t take very long…within a minute or two, thousands upon thousands of bats started coming out from the bridge. WE FINALLY SAW THE BATS!!! Here’s about a minute and a half of what we saw:
Pretty cool, huh? We definitely thought so :-).
When most of the bats had emerged from the bridge, Bella quickly brought us to a spot so we could grab some quick photos of Downtown Austin during sunset…
…and then she brought us back to shore.
Overall, it was a fun way to spend an hour. We got to learn a little bit more about Austin than we knew before and OMG you guys, WE FINALLY SAW THE BATS!
Mission accomplished. Third time’s the charm. Either that or Normy & Sam are our good luck charms. I prefer the latter 😉
*** A HUGE thank-you to Sam and especially Normy, who wanted to see the bats. We’re so glad we went, so we could FINALLY see them!
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