Andy Cole's Stormchase blog

Back on the plains in 2019 to share in nature's spectacle

Chris’ 2019 blog, Day 0: An Unexpected Reunion

We arrived in Austin on what can only be described as a dinosaur of a BA plan to be greeted by a big black “X” across the immigration slip and a static queue to put forward my case that I’m not an economic migrant. We negotiated this and then the Avis car rental processes and left Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in a luxury 4×4 Mercedes GLS to dirty and ruin chasing storms for two weeks.

We dumped our stuff at the Super 8 motel and hopped in an Uber to downtown Austin. We crossed a bridge lined with people that we found out to be there for the daily spectacle of “swarms of bats leaving their nests from under the bridge”. Being nature loving inquisitive men we joined the crowd, waited for 20 minutes in mosquito laden air that was so thick with bat faeces stench we almost needed a knife and fork to get through it. Finally we were greeted with a spectacularly underwhelming colony (I googled that) of bats that emerged the other side of the river. We could just about make out black dots disappearing into the Austin river banks for a session feasting on the insects.

Intent on eating we rented electric scooters each to get to the randomly picked HandleBar – a games and craft ale bar in downtown Austin. A swift 7% IPA in this edgy Shoreditch-esque establishment and we were back on the scooters heading the wrong way up a one way street taking directions from a homeless man to Austin’s notorious 6th Street where we settled into a few more stiff IPAs in Buffalo Billiards. Andy and I put our combined brain cell together and worked out we’d been in this bar together exactly 3 years ago having agreed earlier we didn’t visit Austin last time round, must have had something stiffer than IPAs in 2016! Having also agreed to be healthier this time round, Andy tucked into a buffalo chicken burger and chips and I went for the chicken, bacon and cheese wrap with cheesy chips side. As a side objective to the trip, we decided to be UK based global missionaries solving the world’s most complex problems and got chatting to a cop who openly talked about the gun in her bag, her four more at home and gave us the full story of her support for Donald Trump and the Texan police attitude towards various different drugs. We gave our differing Brexit views to a blank and disinterested audience before she left – missionary mission failed. A few more IPAs later, pin ball machines robbing us blind and Andy capitulating at shuffleboard we decided to jump on the scooters and head back to the hotel, Andy can fill anyone who’s interested in on how the journey home went.

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