15 April 2007

Flat Stanley visits Austin

My nephew's third grade class at Westmont Hilltop Elementary recently read Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown:

Poor Stanley. He's a perfectly normal boy until one morning he wakes up flat. After his parents peel the incriminating bulletin board off of him, Stanley must adjust to life as a pancake.
At some point within the book Stanley is mailed to a friend's house in California. As a project the class made their own Flat Stanleys and mailed them to friends or relatives living out of state. While Stanley is here gallivanting in Texas, my nephew has been studying the state.

Shortly after Stanley arrived here in Austin, I was flying to Pittsburgh to visit family and brought him with me. It was a really rainy and hurried trip; both Stanley and I got drenched on the sprint to catch the Airport Flyer in downtown Austin. Stanley survived the ordeal but his clothing started looking a little tie-dyed. I decided it'd be better to pick a nice warm, sunny, dry day and do a better job of showing him around.

Stanley and I took a couple hour motorcycle ride around Austin yesterday. He conveniently didn't mind riding in my motorcycle's tank bag. The first stop was at theTexas State Capitol just a few blocks from my house. The grounds and building are very pretty, and the interior has a rotunda containing photographs of each of the Texas governors going back since the state was founded. There's also a neat floor tile showing the six flags that have flown over Texas over the years.

From there we rode up to the University of Texas at Austin, a huge public university located just north of downtown. The campus is massive and always busy. Stanley and I stopped in the middle of Honors Day and took a couple photos of the University of Texas Tower. The tower can be seen from miles away.

Stanley and I then rode west from downtown Austin into the Texas hill country. The hill country is gorgeous and reminds me of the part of Pennsylvania just between Pittsburgh and the West Virginia border. Coming from Pennsylvania, I'd always thought Texas was just flat and dry. There are a couple of different types of landforms in Texas, and each is unique. West of Austin in the hill country, there's a man-made lake called Lake Travis where a lot of people go boating during the weekends.

Last I took Stanley to where I work to see some Texas wildflowers. These are mostly purple and yellow, but along highways red and orange flowers can be seen too during this time of year. From there we rode home. It's been nice having Stanley in town, but I think he should get back to my nephew before the summer heat comes.

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