Rare Texas Madrone Tree

Rare Texas Madrone Tree

This month began with a newcomer-to-be excursion. My assignment was to help convince this client to move to Austin with his relocating company. You’d think that this city would be self-selling, but lots of folks still harbor doubts and misgivings about life in Texas. Summer heat is always an issue until I display its remedy: Barton Springs Pool. The vastly conservative population in most parts of the Lone Star State also puts many folks off until I explain just how different Austin believes and behaves. To demonstrate such liberal attitudes, we visited several Keep Austin Weird destinations, of course, but also a less-well-known place: the Texas Music Museum. More on this in future posts, and I’ll let you know if I accomplished my mission of persuasion.

One of my many pleasures in this touring business is connecting with other industry providers. A group of colleagues is the Austin Guest Services Association. They are concierges, front desk managers, and information specialists who work in hotels, restaurants, condominiums, and resorts. I served on their executive committee for a period, helping to craft bylaws. We get together at least once a month in one of the city’s better eateries to feast on fabulous food and bask in each other’s good company and best wishes. Z’Tejas in 6th Street’s West End hosted us this time. I heartily recommend the pork tenderloin.

I also got to sing Austin’s praises to another mother-daughter-friend trio, this trek beginning from a rendezvous at Eastside Café. This restaurant contributes mightily to the burgeoning local food movement: it bases many of its menu items on veggies and herbs organically grown on site. Flowers from the garden adorn the tables, and scraps get composted and returned to the adjacent soil. The park-like atmosphere of the property invites relaxation.

Another group that I’m even more involved with is the Austin Tour Guide Association, as referenced last April. We’re a cadre of professional trip leaders who work for destination managers, meeting planners, visitor centers, and the general public. This group also meets monthly to share info and skills and to learn more about our trade and significant sites. In September, we strolled the Capitol Grounds to identify native trees. Our October meeting happened in the newly restored St. Mary Cathedral downtown.

The association’s major function is training and certifying new guides, for which task we hold classes yearly. Yours truly helped train roughly half of the some two dozen current members. I’m now the group’s vice-president and am campaigning for the top slot. I promise no negative ads!

Downtown walking tours continue apace, remarkably so when I led a youth orchestra from Zwickau, Germany, composer Robert Schumann’s home town. Thank goodness they brought a translator—otherwise, the outing would have been purely incoherent comedy. My Austin Close-Up class continues through October with indoor sessions and out-and-about field trips. We’ve visited Mount Bonnell, Laguna Gloria, Mayfield Park and Preserve, the Capitol, French Legation, and State Cemetery. Still to come are the LBJ Library and UT Campus.

Camp Patchouli Lonesome

Camp Patchouli Lonesome

On yet another trip to Quiet Valley Ranch, I was honored to lead a dialog about the novel Ishmael to the Kerrmaculture design course there. Permaculture is a philosophy and practice for sustainable human living. Daniel Quinn’s writings give us a new way to think about our present ecological predicament and begin to craft next steps. Relatedly, I screened What a Way to Go, a sobering documentary about life at the end of empire. Too, we walked the beautiful property to identify indigenous biota and processes in the cool Hill Country autumn morning.

Here‘s your link to another project that occupies my hours these days. I’m building an exhibit based on my late father’s collection of vintage audio equipment. There, as well, you’ll be connected to my thematic party pages.

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