- (click image for a larger view)
These images are now available at Art166.com.
Prologue - Blame It On The Bats
I'd always heard about the Austin Bat Colony, and checking it out has long been on my list of “Things To Do Before I Die.”
Coincidentally, on a sizzling-hot afternoon in late June, Joe and I found ourselves on the uncertain road to Austin, Texas. It was a random trip that began with us driving around looking for a place to have lunch, but we had a full tank of diesel fuel and three cameras between us -- we always have our cameras –- and, suddenly, I was this close to achieving a dream.
Who needs lunch? To the bat cave, Joe!
Chapter 1 – Down Under
Austin is hot. And crowded. And it’s way too early to see even one bat. We do, however, find the bridge where the colony is installed, and we spend about an hour walking around underneath and reading the “Bat Plaques” which are impressively full of illustrations and nifty info. We take pictures of landscaping and bike trails, spend some time chatting with strangers, and are intoxicated with the pervasive scent of bat guano. I stop twice to suck on my inhaler.
All of this occurs to the creepy soundtrack of millions of chittering, yet unseen, Mexican free-tailed bats. It's eerie, even in broad daylight, but obviously, nothing's gonna happen under this bridge for at least 3-1/2 hours – it’s time for us to move on up.
Chapter 2 – Division Of Labor
Up on the street, we pull into a parking lot that’s just a couple of blocks away from the Texas State Capitol Building. Stuff is happening on the street corner next to our parking lot -- there's a group of nervous tourists, 2 cops with their squad car lights blazing, and in the middle of it all, a very intense cowboy with a guitar strapped to his back. Said cowboy is agitated, pacing and waving his arms, while delivering a high-volume manifesto on the current state of the world as he knows it.
Joe, who is, apparently, more 'empath' than 'self-preservationist', wades into the potential fracas to "help." Hm, I guess he left his white hat in the other truck . . .
"Be careful!" I toss over my shoulder, but, hopefully, Joe can take care of himself 'cause I'm already glued to the viewfinder and wondering if I'm too far away from the Capitol to get a handheld shot of those windows. (Don't worry, the truck is automatic, so if the raging cowboy decides to take Joe out, I can drive myself home.)
By using (for the first time! Scary!) the "digital zoom" feature of my trusty Canon, I'm able to capture a handful of really noisy, low contrast shots, but, as it happens, they're great for manipulations! See more here.
While I'm busy shooting, Joe is busy not getting shot. The police and tourists have moved on, leaving the now nearly-serene cowboy to say goodbye to his new 'friend' (Joe has effectively talked another one down!) and hopefully, to take his medication.
Epilogue - All's Well That Ends Well
I didn't see the bats. It was just too hot (and not in a positive, life-affirming way!) and crazy to wait around in Austin. I don't remember if we ever had lunch - though we did drive around for another couple of hundred miles, goofing off and taking pics. We actually ended up in Pedernales Falls State Park, which is really not the place for someone with respiratory disease -- but that's a story for another time!