Monday, June 10, 2013

Barkin' Springs!

Today was such a momentous day.

My husband left for E3 (the big video game convention) in Los Angeles today, and my family is also at Disney World, leaving me all alone and not on a super awesome vacation. 

I wanted to take Apple somewhere fun today, and it was hot, so I decided to take him for a swim at our old standby, Auditorium Shores.

Auditorium Shores on a good day
Now you know how much I love Auditorium Shores, but today, it was seriously disgusting. The Austin area has been experiencing much more rainfall than we are used to (which is a great thing, since we are in a severe drought,) but the increased rainfall and the heat caused a lot of nasty algae and bacteria to grow in the water. It was disgusting, green, smelly, warm, and basically un-swimmable. I let Apple get in it once to fetch a ball, and then I saw a "Swim at Your Own Risk" sign warning people that the bacteria levels were high and posed an increased risk for infection. 

I then promptly leashed up my dog and took him out of the park, and set off on a new mission: to find "Barkin' Springs."

In Austin, there is a popular natural swimming pool known as Barton Springs. It is 3 acres in size, 68 degrees year round (according to the website, I've always heard 62,) and home to a unique species of salamander known as the Barton Springs Salamander

Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Salamander
 It is a great Austin landmark, and it is with deep regret that I admit to you that in my 5 years of living here I have NEVER been to Barton Springs. I have always wanted to, but with good reason I avoid it; I have a condition known as Raynaud's Phenomenon that requires me to keep warm, and I thought the water would be too cold for me.

Downstream of Barton Springs is another swimming hole known literally as "Barton Springs Downstream" or colloquially, "Barkin' Springs." It is a free section of the springs that is blocked from the main part of the pool by a fence and a dam, and dogs and humans can swim there. I planned on just sitting and watching and testing the water with my feet while I let him swim, but I was pleasantly surprised that the water was very nice looking and it was not too cold for me! I got in with him! I couldn't go very far because I didn't bring my swimsuit, but we're going back tomorrow and I'll wear one then.

Barton Springs Downstream, or Barkin' Springs
 It was so much fun! I was talking to so many other Dog Moms there who couldn't believe I had never been. Of course, it wasn't all free of downsides...I actually witnessed a dog mauling further up the shore, we lost a ball due to the uneven terrain and my lack of a swimsuit, and there's nowhere for the dogs to go potty. Apple hopped out of the water after an hour or so and started to run off because he had to pee...he didn't get lost and he doesn't often run off, but he's such a good boy he wanted to find some grass! I had to chase him down and leave all my stuff, but a nice man helped me out and brought my stuff to me.

Then, when he finally peed, it was near some POISON IVY. I feel like an ass because I told him to pee there (it wasn't as grown over with poison ivy as the other areas) but as soon as he started peeing I spotted a bit of it. I don't know if he came into contact with it or not, and I'll detail my preventative measures in the next blog post.

Despite that, it was ridiculously fun and I plan on going back tomorrow. I will wear a swimsuit and I should probably see if I can find some water shoes or something, so I can walk through the rocks and traverse the terrain if my dog suddenly needs to pee. When Steven comes back we totally have to come back again too!

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