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Austin 2013 239The outside temperatures are warm, uncomfortably warm.  It is summer in Texas.  This is the season for bats under the Congress River Bridge.

Scores of people line the bridge as the sun closes in on the horizon.  Daylight disappears.  Bright colors of yellow and orange fill up the sky.

From south of the border Mexican Free-tail bats have mated.  Close to a million pregnant female bats migrate to Austin, Texas for an annual migration.  The male bats are not welcome.  They head to a Texas cave to take in the Texas summer.

A bridge in Austin that spans Lake Lady Bird Johnson is the site for this phenomenon.  When the bridge was retrofitted with expansion joints few had any idea that it would be the perfect setting for these mammals of the night air.  But, these creatures discovered this ideal habitat by the hundreds of thousands.

During the day, they cloister themselves in these dark recesses through narrow slits in the concrete.  There they rest, chirp and wait until feeding time.  That is when life becomes exciting.

Just after dusk, the Creator has programmed into these curious creatures a signal.  First, a few scout bats fly out and test the temperature, weather conditions and other key data entry points.  Then, a massive and steady stream of fast flying bats pour out from beneath the bridge.

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Like a swarm of streaking river in the sky, this black horde traces the bridges’ edge, turns sharply to follow the tree line and scatter into the Texas country side.  They are on a mission.  Each bat shares a common appetite.  They are hungry and ready for a 30 mile radius to consume every mosquito or flying insect that their radar can trap in their flight pattern.

Initially, they stick together for safety.  Birds of prey are waiting for their emergence.  These feathered flyers are hungry too.  They dive and duck through the stream of tasty morsels.  However, the Creator has made the numbers of the bats lend to their survival.

It takes nearly two hours for the bats to leave the bridge.  The explosion captivates tourists and locals alike.  Our senses of what we see is etched in our memories.  Then, the aroma a lot like corn chips fills the river surface from the diet of these little mammals.  A slight mist showers our tour boat guests with the obvious scattering of flying animals.  The touch of the Master’s creation has entertained us all.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Austin 2013 056The thunder rolled out of Austin, our Texas state capital by Sunday afternoon.  Thousands of bikers roared their way home in different parts of the state.  We who were left were residents working or the many of us tourists who were ready to take in the sights and sounds of this special city.  High on our list was a visit to the State Capitol.  It was easy to find and parking was super convenient.

On our walk to our destination this magnificent domed seat of Texas government stood proudly above the trees.  It seemed so massive, because it is the largest domed capitol building in the USA.  This domed skyscraper is even taller than the national domed capitol.

Our guide told us that this  dominating height was deliberate.  When the construction of this building was nearing completion, it was discovered that a mere matter of a few separated the Texas dome from the national dome.  To Austin 2013 087exceed the height, Texas builders added the statue to the top of the dome to surpass the height of D.C.  Everything, after all, is bigger in Texas.

Everything on the inside and outside of the building is magnificent.  We toured both the Senate and House chambers.  Paintings of heroes and history filled the eyes with action, dignity and prowess.  Names of past heroes still reverberate in the historic halls of this great building: Travis, Houston, Austin, Crockett, Murphy and many more.

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Outside there were historic cannon, memorial parks, monuments to special moments in Texas history.  Prominently placed in the entry are the six flags over Texas.  Six countries lay a historic claim over this land.  The USA, Mexico, Spain, France, the Confederacy and the Republic of Texas.

The monument on the grounds shocked me also pleased me.  I approached it from the back.  Curiosity filled my mind.  I wondered what this monument would commemorate.

It was a tall marble structure.  The height was over twice the width.  It appeared to have two parts.  It was divided down the vertical middle.  Each half had a curved  top.

Naturally, I mused.  Could it really be?  Here on secular ground, on the yard of a non-religious body, could the presence of spiritual identity actually be present?  When so many states have to have a debate on whether a nativity scene is legally displayed, could the State Capital of Texas actually promote a visual of faith?

I peered around to the front of the marble piece.  “Wow! How exciting is this?  The Ten Commandments.”

photo credit: brucefong photography

IMG_2198There are different juices that flow in the veins of different people.  Some have more than simply blood that pours through their bodies and energizes the soul that their body houses.  Others have  an additive in their blood vessels.

I join the many who feel the thrill of thunder.  No, it is not the kind that follows lightning and rumbles through the skies.  Rather, it is the roar that travels through the ground, caused by the horsepower of two-wheel machines known as motorcycles.  I feed on the spirit captured on the open road.

When I don my gear, then climb aboard my ride and turn on my ignition, the thrill never leaves.  It is always there.  Something in the heart and soul of a rider is ignited with the firing of plugs in the internal combustion engine of my V-twin.

The joy of  a ride is magnified when fellow bikers enjoy their freedom together.  We are brothers from different mothers.  There is a connection that can be seen when total strangers on bikes pass each other on the road.  They wave at each other in acknowledgement of what we share in common.

On this vacation trip we headed to experience the city of  Austin together.  Little did we know that our path would crossIMG_2195 the path with thousands of others whose blood flows with the same spirit of motorcycling.  We were met with the vision of a hotel lot filled with sparkling, customized and roaring motorcycles.  Instantaneously, it was exuberating.

Something special was happening in Austin that we did not know about in advance.  I did recall a number of biker groups and solo riders on our journey to our state’s capital.  The enjoyable journey was filled with many other sights, so I was not suspicious .  Now, it all made sense: Republic of Texas Rally, ROT13.

Like the tradition is, has been and always will be, I paid out a lot of compliments on custom rides.  Pride broke out on a number faces when they realized that someone was speaking with admiration of their personalized machine.  It is a way of life.

In town the famed Sixth St. was lined with motor magnificence.  No two bikes were alike.  Each one was like the people who ride them: unique, filled with pride and sharing in common the thunder of the open road.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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