Twin Lakes Park on Wordfree Wednesday

Let me be clear…I am not a desert rat. Anyone who knows me, knows I need to be around water to be truly happy. Flowing, splashing water. Which is why I was thrilled when we found Twin Lakes Park in Cedar Park….I could say more, but since this is Wordfree Wednesday,  I will let the images tell the story. 2013-09-29 18.26.33waterfall3 waterfall2 waterfall root river canyon bridge 2013-09-29 18.11.50

Dogs enjoy freedom at Austin off-leash parks

Auditorium Shores  Dog Park in Austin TexasMoving from South Florida where dogs were either on a leash or in a fenced dog park or yard, it was surprising to discover the number of off-leash parks here in Austin.

We were hesitant at first.  Our dog is friendly, but what if others weren’t?  What if she took off?  (She did, but didn’t go far…only to Great Outdogs to get more treats!)  But finally we gave in, and headed to Auditorium Shores for a gathering of Austin Boxer Meetup…and some off-leash, unfenced playtime.

Maya seemed surprised when we took her leash off, but she quickly found some new friends to play with, and was off.  She played with other big dogs, and some adorable tiny ones, too. There were no aggressive dogs — just lots of playmates and dips in the river — and a few unfortunate rolls in the dirt (lovely when a wet dog rolls in the dust!  Next time the bath will be AFTER the dog park! Good thing we had an extra blanket to cover the car seat!)

Auditorium Shores (near the Long Center) isn’t Austin’s only off leash park.  There are also play areas for pups at Zilker Park and eight other Austin-area parks and recreation areas. Just make sure your dog is good about coming on command, and likes playing with canine companions of all sizes.  Then grab your pup, a water bottle and some toys and head on out.  Oh, and take along something to cover your car seat,,,just in case!

Have Frisbee, will travel!

Dog-friendly Austin welcomes Great Outdogs, a mobile dog supply truck

Great Outdogs Austin Texas Mobile Dog Supply Truck

In the land of food trucks and pet-friendly businesses, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that someone decided to combine the two to create Austin’s first mobile dog supply truck.  After all, we all love Austin’s food trucks, so why should our pups be left out of the fun?

So I was happy when I discovered Great Outdogs, the brain-child of Austin entrepreneur Matt Edwards.  “I had the website for awhile,” he said, “and this was the dream, to take outdoor dog supplies to the places where dogs play.”  Then a serendipitous discovery of the perfect truck made it possible.  “I found the truck, spent a few weeks making it over, and here I am.”

We met Matt at the off-leash dog park across from the Long Center while we were waiting for the Boxer Meetup to start. The truck really is a one-stop shop for dog lovers who enjoy Austin’s outdoors with their pets.  There were leashes, collars, toys, treats, water bowls, and of course, a good selection of dog waste bags ( a must-have for all of us owned by a dog or two!)  He even had safety flotation vests in all dog sizes for people planning on taking their pups out on the river. In fact, his truck offers over 1,300 eco-friendly, pet-friendly and budget-friendly dog items.

Matt’s truck can be found most days at the Auditorium Shores off-leash park, although he said he has plans to create a schedule for visiting several dog parks in the future.

This unique truck may be destined for great things…Matt told me the Statesman had just published a story on  his business, and he had been interviewed by local Austin TV station KVUE.   That’s great for his fledgling mobile business — and for dogs like mine who are already enjoying some of his great products.

Shakespeare goes Bollywood with the Austin Shakespeare Company

Austin Shakespeare Twelfth Night in Zilker Park Austin Texas

For 28 years, Austin Shakespeare has been offering local drama fans a chance to relax on the hill in Zilker Park with picnics and spring breezes while they bring the best of the bard to life on stage.

If this year’s production, our first in Austin, was typical, we are in for an annual treat.  I have been to Shakespeare in the Park in places as diverse as Harrisburg, PA., Cedar City, Utah and New York City.  And I have to say this production rivals the very best I have seen in any of them.

This was no Ren Faire sideshow or community theatre production.  The acting was true to the characters with original touches that gave an old story a new richness.  The casting, costuming and blocking were spot on, and the lighting by Jason Amato was perfectly set to enhance both the story and the actors.

But I have to save my highest praise for the composer and the directors.

Setting a Shakespearean production to music and dance is no easy task, and is doubly difficult when you overlay another time or culture onto it.  Composer Naga Valli‘s original score conveyed the energy of Bollywood mixed with the (often ribald) humor of Shakespeare’s story. And she did it seamlessly.

Directors Ann Ciccolella and Alex Alford created a production that so successfully integrated Bollywood and the Bard that one could easily believe this was the intent of the playwright from the start.  As Lance said after the final scene, “Shakespeare would have approved.”

The company’s 29th season begins in late autumn, with Noel Coward’s Design for Living, followed by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  Next year’s Shakespeare in the Park production will be The Winter’s Tale.

The group also offers a Shakespeare reading group, which meets weekly to read, discuss and act out all of the plays.

Mary Poppins Would be Proud of Austin’s Kite Festival!

Zilker Park Kite Festival

Sometimes the best events are those you stumble on at the last minute.  Like this kite festival in Zilker Park near downtown Austin.

Now for most Austinites, this colorful festival might be a given — after all, it’s been happening for 84 years!  But for us, it was a blurb in the newspaper and a last minute decision to go.  We didn’t even stop to look for one of our kites.

When we arrived, we were amazed!  The sky was filled with hundreds of kites, from the simple to the magnificent!  Add in music, food trucks, community service organizations, and a pet and family-friendly atmosphere, and you have a wonderful day in Austin!

The kite festival is an annual event, so check the website for next year’s date and time.  If you go, bring cash for the food vendors, a blanket or chairs for sitting, your pets,, kids ….and definitely a kite or two.  Come early to find good parking, or use the shuttle service (a word of caution about the shuttles…the lines to go back via shuttle were REALLY long and slow, so be prepared to wait.)

This festival is the best so far for us for this first year in Austin!