The Austin Boardwalk isn’t really a boardwalk. It’s stamped cement slabs laid atop an iron framework and cement piers, but it does hover beautifully over Town Lake. And I ran across it for the first time today. When I ran around Town Lake, clockwise, as a high schooler forty years ago, after crossing the Longhorn Dam, I then had to run along East Riverside Drive until I reached I-35 where I could cross the lake again to the north side for the running trail. So, the misnamed boardwalk is a very nice improvement.
I started my run in the Bouldin neighborhood, at Karen’s cousin’s house near Oltorf and 2nd. Town Lake is less than a mile north. The boardwalk began east of Congress and continued almost all the way to the Longhorn Dam. I saw the scooter in a tree at the I-35 trailhead. The homeless tents increased in density as I neared the dam.
This tent was more modular in design. I almost expected to see Huckleberry Finn. The best part was that it stood across the road from a massive, modern Oracle office building that stretched along the waterfront for at least five football fields, but the shack had the better view.
The pink flamingo and flag pole bolstered this squatter’s rights with a sense of permanence. If I understand Governor Abbott’s brutal state law correctly, the city’s homeless cannot camp in visible areas, meaning it’s okay to be homeless in Texas so long as you can also be invisible. I did see a fair share of tents ensconced in the woods along the railroad tracks when I ran through the Bouldin Greenbelt in the hills above Town Lake. Not all problems have solutions, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep working to do better.
One section of the trail still required me to run down the street for half a block in East Austin. The signs leading me back to the trail were there, I just had to keep an eye out for them.
I became nostalgic upon running past the Peter Pan Mini-Golf Course after ten miles. I ran my very first cross country race here my sophomore year of high school. It wasn’t school sanctioned but Doug Hall led some of us boys to downtown Austin on a Saturday morning to psyche us up for the upcoming season.
I’m super happy to be staying in a house within running distance of Town Lake. Hoping to run through Zilker Park and the Barton Creek Greenbelt tomorrow. Merry Christmas.
A lo Hawk said:
We have a big homeless camp across the Animas River from Walmart but I’m sure they would rather be in Texas as we’ve been getting a freezing rain here in Durango.
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Ed Mahoney said:
It’s always coldest across from the Walmart.
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Yes, the boardwalk is a great addition to the trail. Yes, the Townlake Trail (it has been renamed Ladybird Lake in your absence and without your permission) is an incredible lifestyle asset. Using the various bridges, you can make it a 3, 5, 7, or 11 mile loop. I highly recommend an additional loop requiring you to leave Ladybird and head north on a little-used trail under Mopac, turn west at Enfield, then loop back down Exposition to Lake Austin Blvd and then back to Deep Eddy to rejoin the lake loop. There are downloadable maps on the interweb. But The Homeless . . . . I assume that Longmont does not welcome the homeless with open arms the way Austin experimented. I am living through it, and as a tolerant and open-hearted citizen I can say that it is a catastrophic failure, both for the homeless and the City.
Ed Mahoney said:
Funny you mention the Deep Eddy Trail. I don’t know how long it’s been there but it’s the only section I’ve never run. It’s on my list.
Longmont has a surprisingly large homeless population. For whatever reason they congregate at grocery stores and can be aggressive at times. As far as I know, Longmont doesn’t have any programs in place. Denver has something where they try to provide housing, which is what I thought Austin does – buy hotels. The problem is such programs are typically very one-sided and rarely consider the community as a whole. My thought is a city should at least be trying something, anything, rather than think it can just ignore the problem.