Out and about in Austin: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
On the way to SuperTarget, I saw a sign for Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which piqued my interest, so I made plans to go the next day. The center is huge and displays hundreds of varieties of native wildflowers. It has a few short trails to walk on and view the various gardens and natural areas, which is great because it makes you feel fit and outdoorsy, but you only have to walk about a mile if you just do one trail.
The only downside to my visit was that I decided to go around 1 p.m., so it was blazing hot. I got a Gatorade at the café and clung to it desperately as I walked on all of the trails. I would recommend going earlier in the day so that it’s not 95 degrees by the time you get there.
One of my favorite parts of the center was the observation tower, which offers a great view of the grounds. The center provides a lot of opportunities to appreciate the more natural side of Austin, and from the top of the tower, you can’t even see the city. You’re surrounded by trees and flowers, and it’s really refreshing. (But very hot, in case I haven’t mentioned that already.)
The flowers on display are beautiful. On the more natural, unplanned trails, oak trees and wildflowers were on display. In the areas with planned out gardens, there were a lot of cacti and other strange looking desert plants.
It’s probably better to go in the spring when there are more wildflowers instead of the middle of the summer heat, but it was still fantastic. The desert plants clearly thrive in the summer, and the butterfly gardens were really active. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to get indoors at the center, with both art and educational exhibits inside the galleries.
I usually don’t watch fireworks shows on Fourth of July, but being in Austin for the holiday, I decided to go check out the big show at Circuit of the Americas.
It was PACKED.
We decided to stay in the parking lot and watch from the hood of the car. The weather was perfect, and we could see far away fireworks wherever we looked. The Austin Symphony Orchestra played for about an hour before the show started. The show was pretty short, but the fireworks were great.
What wasn’t so great was the traffic getting out. It took us three hours to get back to my apartment — for two and a half of those hours we were at a standstill trying to get out of the parking lot. People were doing yoga outside of their cars to kill time.
All in all, it was a happy Fourth of July. I hope everyone had a safe holiday!
As an intern at the Statesman, I’ve been given a great opportunity to work with professional journalists. I decided to take advantage of this by sitting down with some of the journalists at the Statesman and talking about their experiences working here.
Nell Carroll, Statesman Director of Photography
Chloe Gonzales: What is something you wish you knew when you started working at the Statesman?
Nell Carroll: [Laughs] I wish I had more knowledge of what all the gazillion acronyms in this damn town are. My first meeting I was hearing about MUDs and – I just can’t remember all the acronyms – but I sat in the meetings for three weeks just befuddled, going “What’s a MUD?” I finally started asking. As far as on a broader scale, I can’t really think of anything. I came into this job pretty well-prepared.
CG: How long have you worked for the Statesman?
NC: It’ll be 18 years in November. It’s crazy.
CG: What has been your favorite assignment to work on while working here?
NC: I don’t really take too many pictures, and most of the ones I get to do, I pick and choose. I guess when I was working when we had Real Magazine, that was kind of fun because I could do all the studio things. I really love shooting studio work, and none of our staff really does.
Then also, we had these little small-town vignettes, so it was my birthday and we realized we didn’t have good pictures of Smithville. So I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna go take pictures of Smithville!” And like, “It’s your birthday!” “I don’t care. I’m gonna go get my kid!” And I picked him up from school and we went and had a little photo safari in Smithville, so that was kinda fun. But my shooting has been pretty limited here because I came in as a photo editor and we have such a talented staff anyway, you know. Why should I shoot?
Nell Carroll, Exploring the wonders of Smithville
CG: What do you think is one of the most important things you’ve learned while working here as a photo editor?
NC: Always listen. Listen, listen, listen. To everybody! Listen to reporters, listen to your staff, listen to the bosses. Listen, listen, listen! It’s so hard in this day and age to sit and listen to what people have to say. Don’t just listen – hear it, absorb it. Repeat what you’re hearing back to them, so the person that’s talking to you knows you’ve been listening and not zoning out.
It took me a long time to learn that. I get very excited when I’m in a conversation with people because things pop into my head that I’m afraid I’m gonna – like, “I have to get this out before I forget it!” So I have a tendency to interrupt. But it’s been a growing experience. I think that’s been the most important thing.
CG: How do you think that’s helped you in regard to managing your staff and working with other people here? Has it affected your work a lot?
NC: I think so. It’s made me have to slow down, for one thing. I am a break-neck speed kinda person. Doesn’t mean I’m not accurate, I just work quickly. I like to work solo. But it’s made me be more collaborative. It’s made me, I think, understand the needs of the people around me that I’m working with. And try to help them better, you know, get what they need and want solved or understood. I can’t solve every problem, but at least I can hear it and explain why something is how it is. It might not be the best answer [laughs], but I do definitely think it’s helped me slow down and be more collaborative.
Chloe,What do you think it is about Austin that makes it so different from other Texas cities, say, the DFW area?
From what I’ve seen so far, Austin is a big city but it still has the feel of a close community. Small businesses seem to thrive here, which is something I haven’t seen in many other cities. People are more active and health conscious, and there are a lot of outdoor activities. Austin has plenty of natural areas where people can enjoy the great outdoors and get some exercise. There are bike lanes almost everywhere and it looks like there’s pretty good public transit.
There’s also something to do no matter what you like, which is really different from Fort Worth, where I’m from. Downtown Fort Worth is pretty much just a couple of blocks with a few bars and restaurants and hardly any shopping. I walked three blocks down South Congress the other day and went into about five amazing shops and found so many restaurants and food trucks I wanted to try. And there are so many vegetarian restaurants in Austin! In Fort Worth, there’s only one vegan restaurant that I know of, but there are a ton of options here.
I could go on and on. Austin has a lot to offer that isn’t as readily available in other cities. There are certainly downsides (the traffic is terrifying!), but being here has already been an incredible experience.
Hey Austin360 Tumblr fans! We are starting a little Tumblr experiment, and we hope it’ll be fun for y’all as well as for one of our summer interns!
For the next few weeks, in addition to our usual posts, our summer intern Chloe Gonzales will be posting about her experiences exploring Austin while she is here working on our online desk. She is completely new to Austin, coming to us from Fort Worth - and I’ll let her explain the rest!
My name is Chloe Gonzales. I’m an online intern at the Austin American-Statesman this summer. I came here from Fort Worth, where I’ve lived all my life. On May 9, I graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington, where I worked as a copy editor at The Shorthorn, and 12 days later I was in Austin for training with the Dow Jones News Fund internship program.
I’d been to Austin for about a total of three days in my adult life before I came here for the summer. I didn’t understand the charm then, but now that I’ve been here for four weeks, I’m hooked. There’s something new and wonderful on every corner.
I was driving back to my apartment from BookPeople – an amazing discovery in itself – the other day and got lost (somehow I had failed to notice before that 6th street is, in fact, one way), had to turn on Henderson, and discovered a fantastic community garden. My new favorite bar is Crow Bar (although I have plenty more to explore –maybe someday I’ll get through the entire Happy Hour Guide). I’ve gone to Veggie Heaven every week since I’ve been here because it’s so amazing, and I know I have plenty more vegetarian restaurants to try. I’ve already found all of these incredible places, and I have the rest of the summer to find more.
Whether I’m updating the homepage of one of the websites or tweeting, it’s my job to keep up to date on local news and events. I have an apartment near the Statesman and I get to spend my whole summer learning about professional journalism as well as this weird, amazing city. Here, I’m going to blog this summer about what I’m learning, how different a professional newsroom is from a student newsroom and all the things that I will have the opportunity to discover about Austin.
The only downside to this experience is that I miss my cats!
(I feel emotionally obligated to mention that I do have a third cat whom I do not have a gif of!)