Austin Revisited: Of Bats & Grocers

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Due to an odd mix of a Wholefoods loving Aussie (btw, there are no Wholefoods in Australia, but Barbi is meaning to remedy that, lol) and a good friend of a friend, we were treated to a corporate tour of Wholefoods headquarters and flagship store. 

I was actually really impressed. I know what Wholefoods is in a grocery sense, but I had no idea of the culture they embrace (really focused on employee happiness, transparency, and way of life) or how much they actually do worldwide to help hunger and poverty. Read a bit about their mission and values, you'll be impressed too!

Tour of the Wholefoods marketplace.

Tour of the corporate offices upstairs.

And... did you know that a lot of wholefoods stores have full on bars inside? I live in MD and grocery stores can't sell beer or alcohol, so I was totally wowed. Anyway, we were treated to a drink at the bar after the tour. Thanks Wholefoods!

Finishing off our week in Austin, we made a point of seeing the South Congress Bridge bats. Every night during the summer (and late spring and early fall) literally millions of bats house themselves under the bridge to nest and emerge nightly in great clouds.

We were waiting patiently on the bridge just before twilight, not knowing exactly what to expect. By the way they explain it in all the touristy sites you think you'll be practically engulfed in bats once twilight hits. In actuality, while it is cool to see the stream of bats fly out from the bridge, it's not a life-changing event, it's just a dark wispy cloud of what looks like large mosquitos flying off into the night. I'm told in late August, when the babies are flying and numbers are at their greatest, there are actually a lot more bats to be seen, but what we saw was one stream of bats - taking off from the freaking opposite end of the bridge, lol. Still, it is cool and quite remarkable to think that allllll those bats are hanging out under the bridge you're standing on (or under). --I had actually wanted to take one of the bat viewing boat tours but we didn't get to (just not able to plan that far ahead). Maybe that would've been more impressive... or at least more fun... if they served beer. ;)

Initial emergence. Lots of people watching from the water, wish I had been one of them.

Full force bat stream. Kinda mesmerizing, like a long, ever-changing ribbon of bats.

Under the South Congress Bridge. See those lines running along the bridge? That's where the bats live, inside the tiny crevices in the structure of the bridge. See those dark blotches along the crevices? ...yup, bat poo. :)

All-in-all, I really do like Austin, and again wouldn't mind living there except for the fact that I'd have to say that I live in Texas. A lot of people don't realize that Austin isn't really Texas... it's a alternate reality Texas... a little spot of blue in a sea of red. ;)


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