Sunday, January 09, 2011

Austin Outdoors

top images from lululemon

On Friday, I left work early to go hiking with Rachel. We drove over to the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, right off the bustling Loop 360. It is a small haven of woods and stream nestled in West Lake Hills, surrounded by gaudy mansions and shiny corporate offices. Once you step out of your car, you get a huge whiff of the trees, as if you were miles away from the city. This is something that Austin should really be proud about- how a few dedicated people fought to preserve natural spaces in the city and won. Hell, the Greenbelt is a 7 mile rocky trail that runs straight through town and weaves around numerous neighborhoods. The Wild Basin's trails are only 2-3 miles long, but when we climbed to the top, we were treated to commanding views of the hills. It was a great opportunity to get my heart rate up and strike up a long conversation with a good friend. I know I can always count on Rachel to go outside with me, as I do not know anyone who loves the outdoors more than she does. We plan on visiting Bright Leaf Preserve soon, another protected natural area just northwest of where I live (so central!).

These past 2 weeks have been filled with disc golf playing. It is basically a disc equivalent of golf, with different sized discs based on distance and par for each hole. A while back, my friend Tyler notified us that he would be playing at Pease Park, since the city was going to tear down the disc golf course. Having never played, I joined him and a few out of towner friends for a round after work. Even though I had limited skills, it was a complete blast! I was treated to a leisurely tour of the park, which I had only ever previously zoomed by in my daily commute, did a fair amount of walking, and soaked in the gorgeous fake winter weather. Since then, B and I have each purchased our own discs and gone to 2 other courses in town. My beginner luck has worn away, and I spent much of yesterday afternoon rolling up my chinos and wading in the freezing stream at Bartholomew Park fetching my disc. At least I was getting some use out of my neglected Chacos, noted B. Disc golf is all about technique, and less about strength. I do not have the technique down yet, so it's more practice for me to regain the initial glee I experienced when playing. It's a neat sport, very low impact and great for when you want to hang out with friends but do more than just sit around.

image from photobucket

A new show B and I have been watching is the 2nd season of New Scandinavian Cooking, hosted by Tina Nordstörm on PBS. I think they slapped "new" on there because she likes to use American produce like avocados, cherry tomatoes, shallots, cucumbers and red apples to complement her dishes. This show is unlike most cooking shows we have become accustomed to, as Tina is always outside and doesn't take a huge bite out of all of her creations and emit forced "mmmms." So far, we have seen her dive for cockles (clams) and fish for mackerel, items she immediately prepares after setting up her makeshift cooking table. She has also gone hang-gliding, and clearly isn't afraid of having her hair messed up or outfit rumpled on camera. Her English is pretty good, and we entertain ourselves by mimicking her slight, endearing accent and occasional odd phrasings. Personally, her liberal application of dill and common usage of shellfish hints at my possible difficulty of enjoying Swedish cuisine, but it's a refreshing and education show anyway. At least B would love eating Sweden.

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