To tell the truth, the weather is cold and wet, and we're burned out on all the cleaning, so hey, let's take a break. I just checked the Island websites and it's 72 and partly sunny (sounds better than partly cloudy, right?). Anyhoo, what will I not miss about Austin?
Well, the traffic, for starters. Dallas and Houston might seem worse, but in generally what we have here is a rolling parking lot. Because of years of no planning, the old highways are being ripped up and they're putting in new super-duper flyover systems, which adds to the problem because of the construction. To pay for all this discomfort, of course we really need those tollways, toll booths, and one-armed bandits to lighten our pockets from all that spare change. And, because the ozone is getting worse from all those cars stuck in traffic, we'll have those vehicle smog checks within a year or so. I'm all for clean air but I don't see the need to give my car the prostate exam every year.
How about allergies? Austin is the allergy capital of Texas. Every season is dominated by evils plant that all decide to poof their pollen up your nose. The worst is what we call "cedar fever," which is really from the male Mountain Juniper bushes. The cedar season is also the longest, from November to mid-February. The flu season was not bad around this year here but everyone has a nasty cough from the cedar, some with bronchitis. I think the folks who make Claratin should give us a little rebate because we're spending hundreds of bucks on it, at twenty bucks a wop.
[Brief interlude while I talked on the phone with my parents on Abaco in the Bahamas. I mentioned that South Padre Island was maybe a "poor man's Bahamas." This would be like saying Vermont is a poor man's Colorado. My dad said "You're wrong, Sam. Everything is a mess from all the hurricanes and you don't get any big ones down there, for some reason. Everything here is double expensive and then the Bahamian Customs charges seven percent on top of that. The dock fell down again and we patched it back up but the pile drivers are only working on big commercial jobs. The ants have gone nuts and bite everything. The poisonwood is taking over everything. We are quite envious of you."]
The growth around here is nothing short of astronomical. When we moved to our little burg of Leander, northwest of Austin, it has a population of maybe 2,500. Now we have about 10,000 residents, ten years later. The average size of the new developments is about 100 to 500 acres. Little places like Jonestown (my favorite), Dripping Springs, Liberty Hill, and all the way out to Marble Falls are being bulldozed in two ways: checkerboard or completely flat. The creeks all run brown now. It is quite depressing.
Finally, nobody can agree to anything around here in Austin. It is quite frustrating. You think you have a compromise and someone files a lawsuit, lobbies a bill in Legislature, and hires a PR firm to do some major airing of dirty laundry. Even on good things, like having a commemorative party with music and food, people will fight to the death over agonizingly trivial details.