Keep Austin Weird

January 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Steve in Museums | Parks | Texas

This is the 2nd post from my January 14 sight seeing trip to Austin, and the 3rd post about Austin so far.  It is an interesting place, and all I think I’ve done is scratch the surface.  Many of the photos here are just placement shots to get a feel for the town.

Once Jonathan, Rebecca and I left the Driskill Hotel (see prior post) we stopped by a farmer’s market going on a few blocks away.  Farmer’s markets, to me at least, became a popular cultural phenomenon in Southern California back in the 1990’s.  This one seemed to be one of the more ‘pure’ markets as there were almost no crafts sellers.  The booths offered veggies, cooked food, chocolates, and one place had essences or perfumes for sale.  This particular market apparently goes on every Saturday until about 1:00 pm.  We arrived with only a few minutes to go.  Some of the vendors were almost sold out of things, but I was able to buy a jar of very good Sauerkraut.

From there we drove back to their condo where we met Rebecca’s mother and sister.  We decided to go out to lunch on SOCO or South Congress St.  All of the sit down restaurants were quite busy.  I was surprised.  By the time we got there it was past 2, yet the street traffic & restaurant traffic was busier than almost anywhere I could say I’ve been.

We finally decided to get lunch at a food trailer.  Food trailers seem to be an Austin cultural thing.  Mobile ‘roach coaches’, ‘gut trucks’, or whatever you want to call them are common everywhere.  Trailers parked in one spot serving speciality food items were something quite new to me.  Here was a very large lot stretching from one street to the next and facing a major boulevard with close to 10 different food trailers.  Picnic benches were set up, some had umbrellas.  There were trash cans & porta-potties, but not enough to keep up with the crowd which was huge.  The setup didn’t seem to be temporary.  Even worse, it took over 30 minutes to get our food order.

Here are two photos of the area.  The tan roof in the background is a nearby Baptist Church.

Across and kitty corner from the trailers is a costume and accessory store named Lucy in Disguise.  The billboard like front is right out of the late 1960’s.  The billboard features more pop, movie & rock icons than I could name, but the Beatles in their Sgt. Pepper outfits and Marilyn Monroe are near the center.  Also on the sign is an admonition to “Keep Austin Weird”.

I want you all to look carefully at the close up.  There is one thing that I think is technically wrong with it.  My old friend from high school Frank should catch it right away.  He told me about it in 1972!  The answer will appear in the next post (whenever that is.)

We left SOCO by about 3:30 and headed to the Cathedral of Junk.  The ‘Cathedral’ is local to Austin, in a residential area, and is slowly becoming famous.  Information is easily found with an internet search.

A local resident, Vince Hannemann, began decorating his property with discarded things in the late 1980’s.  In other words used junk.  As time progressed a multi-story structure of junk began to form in his back yard.  This country has had small roadside museums appearing in out of the way places for many years.  Vince’s place is something like that whether you appreciate his artistry or not.  Donations are accepted, but trinkets are not sold.

As Vince’s structure grew he caught the eye of the Austin building authorities.  After a few lawsuits and an engineer signing off on the structure he was allowed to keep it standing.  Vince is perturbed over all the brou-ha-ha, but I pointed out that this relieved him of some serious liability.  He freely admitted it did.  I was happy to leave a donation and shoot lots of photos.  He doesn’t seem to solicit donations very strongly.  The donation box was near the entrance, but not too obvious.  I hope Vince has the best of luck with his project and his passion.

Here is Vince smiling for me and showing off his tattoos.  Early on I asked for permission to photo him & the area, which he readily gave.

As you enter his backyard you see this sign.

Here are photos of the cathedral front, part of the interior, & some detail.  The cathedral rises 25 or more feet in the air.  Anyone can walk up to the 2nd level, climb a narrow ladder to the top, cross the diving board, and peer over the rail down to the ground.

From the ground this is the view up.  That is Jonathan smiling down at me.

Once you get to the top of the ladder there is literally an old diving board leading to the viewing edge.  While crossing the diving board you can hear the structure creak and feel the board flex!

This is Rachel, Rebecca’s sister looking none too sure of herself on the diving board.  She gave me permission to show this photo.  By the way, Rachel is a Mechanical Engineer so I expect she has a better feel for the structural integrity of the place than most of us.


Time for a change of scenery.  After the ‘Cathedral’ we all went to Zilker Park along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake (which is really a river) to view the sunset.

I particularly like lonely trees so I got this photo when we arrived and another as we left.  Each time I had to place the setting sun behind part of the tree both to get a silhouette and so the rest of the photo would show detail.  I wonder if this tree may have appeared in the Peanuts comic strip.  It looks like it ate a kite.

We walked along the path to Barton Creek.  There is a bridge over the creek with part of Austin in the background.  I got this photo of a kayaker coming up the creek.

Where the river (Lake Lady Bird) and Barton Creek converge are some viewing levels.  The sunset view of Austin was very good.  This is the result, a pretty good end to a long day of sight seeing.

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