Austin: Inside & (Especially) Outside the Capitol!

Morgan Robertson

My first month and a half in Austin has been filled with learning and trying new things-but not all of my new experiences have happened in the beautiful state Capitol. In an effort to take advantage of the great outdoor spaces that Austin has, I learned to paddle board on The Colorado River! With LEAP, and on my own, I have enjoyed kayaking and exploring different waterways, but new environments called for new experiences.

Located near the boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake, EpicSUP is known as Austin’s go-to paddle dock with what seems like a whole fleet of paddle boards and kayaks. Daniel, who has worked with EpicSup for several years, knew that the best way to introduce a novice was to encourage her to simply get on the board and paddle.

I would (and I’m sure many others would as well) classify myself as the least coordinated Ambassador–a thought that I couldn’t quite shake, with no help from the wobbling paddle board beneath me. After a few minutes of getting a feel for the new activity and observing other paddlers on the water I eventually fell into a rhythm and was off!

Even after my first venture on a paddle board, I would argue that it’s easier to balance than a kayak. As with any new activity, each time I’ve paddle boarded it has gotten easier, and I’ve been able to cover more distance. On just my second time out on the river, I paddled about 8 miles in three and a half hours–which included breaks to take photos of the city around me.

My starting (and ending) point is the circle on the bottom right corner of the map and I made it up to Mopac!

On my most recent voyage on the Colorado, I took a detour on Barton Creek which ended up being well worth it! Because of the shallowness of the creek, the clear water showcased flowing plants and even a turtle just beneath the surface.

The Creek seemed to be a great spot for all the local wildlife and Austinites to enjoy the weather. One lesson I have learned from LEAP is that wildlife photography is no easy feat. However, it is even more difficult trying to maneuver and maintain stealth on an 11ft paddle board toward skittish creek dwellers! I was lucky enough to have snapped a few shots of some basking turtles, hunting herons, and even ducks taking flight (despite being the reason for their immediate departure).

The wildlife, expanse of the river, and the beautiful views of the city all amplified my paddle boarding experience, which has, in turn, expanded my Austin experiences as well.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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