1. Today is the last day of my internship at the Austin American-Statesman. I’ve been in Austin for 11 weeks and I’ve had such a great time exploring the city and getting to know the newsroom. This was my first experience in a professional newsroom and I really enjoyed it. All of the people here have been kind and helpful, and I learned a lot about social media, updating news sites, blogging and even video editing.

    Thank you so much to everyone who helped me out at the Statesman this summer. I asked a lot of questions and I always got helpful answers. I’m so grateful for the experience that I’ve had at the Statesman this summer and will always remember it fondly.

    Good luck to the next interns!

    - Chloe

  2. Zilker Park is fascinating to me because people are always out there being active and playing sports even though it’s about a hundred degrees in the day. Back home, there would only be a few overachieving runners on the trails in the morning. The rest of the day the park would be pretty much empty. Trying to get the most out of our last few weeks in Austin, my roommate and I went to Blues on the Green  which will only happen two more times this summer!  a couple of weeks ago, which was my first time at Zilker.

    We returned later to check out Zilker Botanical Garden, which is really cheap at only $2 for adults and worth the trip. We were enticed by the prehistoric garden, but the whole thing was fun to walk around. It’s great if you’re looking for some lighter activity in the shade, which is about all I can handle in the middle of the Texas summer. Austinites are always walking around and hanging out outside, looking like they enjoy drinking their hot coffee in hundred-degree weather. The only way to get me to go outside in the day right now is to take me to Barton Springs.

    - Chloe

  3. This is Quest. She is a great swimmer, easy to walk and super sweet. She’s a shelter dog at Austin Pets Alive.

    One of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in Austin this summer is join RuffTail Runners, a group that takes dogs from Austin Pets Alive, which is a no-kill shelter, on jogs to keep them active and socialized. I haven’t been able to participate as much as I’d like because of the temperature (they don’t let you take the dogs out for even a walk if the temperature is in the 90s, which it almost always is), but when I have spent time with the dogs, it’s been great.

    The program is great because it creates a sort of symbiotic relationship between the dogs and people. I’m not a hardcore runner like some of the people who are involved with the program and can talk casually about how they ran 18 miles straight, but I do like to go on jogs and stay active. I would be doing these activities anyway, and taking a dog with me makes me feel safe and it makes jogging more fun. The dogs at the shelter are so loving and well-behaved, it’s hard not to take them home when I’m done jogging with them. In return, the dogs get to spend time with people, get some exercise and get a little bit of behavioral training.

    If you have any interest in spending time outdoors with animals getting some exercise, I would sincerely recommend getting involved with RuffTail Runners. The initial fee to get into a training session is $20 and you have to RSVP because a lot of people want to get in, but all of that is completely worth it.

    Austin is a great place for many reasons, but I really appreciate how animal-friendly it is. It was named the best city for dogs in America, and people truly put effort into helping animals. I will be leaving Austin in a couple of weeks, and I’m really sad that Fort Worth doesn’t have a similar program. The program model is already reaching more cities, and hopefully someday it will be more common. Shelter animals deserve love, attention and exercise, not just a place to stay while they’re waiting to be adopted. Now all we have to do is find some way to keep cats entertained and socialized…

    - Chloe

  4. How are weeds and poison ivy being taken care of at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden? Goats.

    Mariah Hoffman, of Vagabond Land Management, uses her goats in a program in association with the Parks and Recreation department to rid Umlauf Sculpture Garden of poison ivy - and Barton Springs Pool is next on the list.

    Watch the full video!

  5. On spring break this year, my friends and I decided to go to Hamilton Pool on a hot afternoon. Anyone who has actually been to Hamilton Pool knows that this was a naive, foolish decision, but having only heard of it and watched the movie Teeth (which, upon further Googling, I’m no longer certain was actually filmed at Hamilton Pool?), I thought this was ambitious but possible. I was wrong. The line to get in was so long that we weren’t even allowed to wait in line, we were just told to leave. We were pretty bummed, but on the bright side, I was about to spend the whole summer in Austin for my internship, so the opportunity would arise again.

    That fantasy became reality this Sunday when we got up at 8 a.m. to try to at least get in line this time. When we got there after a 45 minute drive, we were both lucky and unlucky to discover that swimming wasn’t allowed for the day. (No, I did not check the website before we left…) We were a little sad because it was blazing hot outside and we wanted to swim, but because apparently everyone else did check the website and see that they couldn’t swim, it wasn’t crowded at all. We didn’t even have to wait in line and we were able to hike and explore in relative peace.

    Hamilton Pool is a really beautiful place. Of course the pool itself is gorgeous, but the rest of the area is fantastic, too. The hiking trails are lush and shady, and the cypress trees along the trails are impressive. I think it would be worth the wait to go swimming there. The pool isn’t the only swimming area in the nature preserve, either. There is a (long, hot and sweaty) hiking trail to the Pedernales River, which I’m assuming is less crowded than the pool on days that swimming is allowed. On that trail, we heard a woman say something like, “at least it wasn’t a big snake,” after which my boyfriend saw a snake, freaked out and ran away  oh wait, it was just a lizard. That’s how natural this nature preserve is. Your hiking partners might think they’ve seen a snake and leave you for dead.

    I wish we had been able to swim, but who knows? Maybe someday I’ll go back and get a place in line and wait a few hours for that magical dip in Hamilton Pool. Until then, I’m just happy I finally got to see it.

    - Chloe

  6. I finally went to go see the famous Austin bats on Saturday night with fellow Statesman intern Caitlin Clark and some friends from out of town. We parked at the Statesman and walked down to the river where we stood on the grass for about half an hour while we waited for bats to make an appearance. I was shocked by the crowd. These bats emerge every night, but there were still hundreds of people all along both sides of the river, on the Congress bridge and on the water. I was a little nervous about going to see them because the bats are coming out later this year, which makes them harder to see, but they’re still drawing a great crowd anyway.

    While waiting, we could hear the bats under the bridge. They were making little chirping noises and sounded just like crickets. They started coming out slowly; one flew out, then a few trickled after it. Eventually hundreds of bats were emerging from underneath the bridge, and it was extraordinary. We stood watching them for at least 10 minutes and they just kept coming. The bat tour boats were shining lights underneath the bridge and we could see that there were still so many not yet flying. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. After seeing the bats, it’s no surprise to me that so many people gather around that bridge in the evenings to watch them.

    - Chloe

  7. Inspired by the Statesman’s video of Springdale Farm’s produce art, I decided to drag my boyfriend to the farm’s Saturday market this weekend. It was a little hard to find  we originally passed it and got a little lost on all the one-way streets in the area  but when we finally got there and figured out where to park, I was impressed. There was an amazing variety of products, including fresh vegetables, jams and eggs, and they were all arranged beautifully.

    After we bought eggs (incredibly pricey eggs — $7 for a dozen!), we walked around the farm and looked at their chickens, which I wanted to steal because they were so cute. The grounds were surprisingly peaceful and beautiful for a farm in the middle of the city. I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re interested in urban farms and farmers markets.

    - Chloe

  8. Out and about in Austin: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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    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.

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    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.)

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    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.

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    If you go, be sure to check out the Statesman’s interactive map of the Luci and Ian Family Garden inside of the wildflower center, which has a lot of activities for families.

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    - Chloe

  9. Weekly roundup, 07.03.14 →

    austinstatesman:

    Your weekly roundup is here a little early because of the holiday this weekend. Happy Fourth of July!

    From us:

    In video

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    Look at those baby bear cubs!! Squeee!

  10. Sitting down with the Statesman’s Photo Director

    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

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    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?

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    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.

    After the interview, I asked Nell what one of her favorite videos from the internet is. She sent me an adorable video that she took of her son tap dancing on bubble wrap.

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