My two clients yesterday wore identically patterned dresses, but in different colors of lightweight material. Both from Green Bay, Wisconsin, they had already figured out how to stay cool in Texas in August. One had just moved to this metro area and was welcoming her visiting friend. An amateur photographer colleague of mine was also along for the ride.

This Heart of Austin tour began at the Waterloo Compound with a look at some of Austin’s oldest commercial and residential structures. Passing Esther’s Follies, my guests learned about pecan trees and Old Pecan Street on their way to the Driskill and Littlefield Building. The grand Congress Avenue is always ready for a parade, or so we imagined ourselves in our slow cruise in front of the Paramount Theater, Hickory Street Bar and Grill, and Larmour Block. Once beyond the stately Governor’s Mansion, I parked the mighty ‘Burb on the Capitol’s west side and into that venerable edifice we strode.

With so much to see inside the statehouse, an hour barely does it justice, or legislative for that matter. Beside two chambers and the Rotunda, of course, the building holds many out-of-the-way and secret places that only an insider would know to show. That’s exactly why people always seem to love my tours.

From the government complex, our route led us to the neighboring University campus just as students were moving in for the fall semester. Typically, the streets are torn up in front of UT’s South Mall as a way of welcoming back the throngs of classes and teachers. I’m told the city’s traffic engineer is an Aggie.

Up the Drag and over into the LBJ Library, we got an excellent perspective on recent U.S. history. Since my clients were both nurses, I showed them the Nursing School and close-by Brackenridge Hospital, which I hope wasn’t overly traumatic. Adjacent Waterloo Park, named in honor of the original “village” that became the city of Austin, is the site this weekend of the Hot Sauce Festival.

Driven once more past the big pink dome, these ladies took a close look at the shellstone making the Travis County Courthouse and marveled at the city’s ubiquitous historical landmarks and public open spaces. One of the prettiest in town, Auditorium Shores is gearing up for Saturday’s Red Bull Flugtag Texas, a celebration of human-powered flying machines. The new Lady Bird (Town) Lake Park is also just about to open.

To get back north to the tour’s point of beginning, we glided up Lamar Boulevard, which edges Shoal Creek and Pease Park, site of Eeyore’s Birthday Party every spring. Not far off Lamar, though unseen, is the ultra-Moderne Bohn House, which design was inspired by a science fiction movie. My Green Bay friends couldn’t believe our three hours together were already at an end, but they expressed grateful farewells along with my warmest personal regards.

-HR

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