Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Strange Visitor in Austin, Texas

While I was home in Texas, I was browsing through my digital photo albums and came across a set from 2002 of the strangest visitor we've ever had. Morgan was a regular girl living in Malibu, California until the day a surfboard fell on her and made her 100% completely flat. Most kids would be quite upset about their new 2-dimensional status, but Morgan decided that this was an excellent opportunity to travel cheaply. So, her mom placed her in an envelope, put on a postage stamp, and sent her on her merry way. That's how I ended up opening my mailbox one day to find a new guest, Flat Morgan. We took her around town, showing her all the sights and taking plenty of pictures for her to show her mom.

The Broken Spoke - a True Texas Dance Hall

Flat Morgan was missing cowboy boots that day.

When people think of Texas, they think cowboys and country music. Here's Flat Morgan at The Broken Spoke, the self-proclaimed "Last of the True Texas Dance Halls" that plays the best honky-tonk music in the Lone Star State.

Stevie Ray Vaughan statue with Austin downtown skyline

Austin considers itself the Live Music Capital of the World. Blues rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV) got his start in Austin in the late 1970s and tragically died in a helicopter crash in 1990. Austin erected this popular statue to commemorate this legendary musician. Whenever it starts to storm in Malaysia, I can't help but think of the song Texas Flood by SRV and the band Double Trouble. Looking at this photo, I'm also struck by how much the downtown Austin skyline has changed in the last decade.

Congress Avenue Bridge - home to the world's largest urban bat colony

Next, we headed to the Congress Avenue Bridge. From March to November, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats call this bridge their home. This is the largest urban bat colony in the world. Every night at dusk, waves of bats fly out to start hunting insects. Watching the bat emergence is on of Austin's most popular summertime tourist attractions.

Texas State Capitol
Austin is also the home of the State Capitol. Because everything is bigger in Texas, this capitol has more square footage than any other state capitol in the U.S.A., and it's also taller than the U.S. Capitol by 23 feet. When it was built in 1888, it was the 2nd tallest building in the world.

Texas Governor's Mansion

The Texas Governor's Mansion is conveniently located close to the State Capitol. Unfortunately, it was extensively damaged by an arson fire in 2008. Here it is with Flat Morgan in its former glory. The restoration will supposedly finish up this summer, and the mansion will reopen to public tours.

University of Texas Tower

Austin is also home to the University of Texas, and its UT Tower is the main landmark. I hear there's quite a view from the top. Whenever UT wins a game, you can see the tower lit up in orange. An NCAA national championship illuminates the entire tower in orange with the window lights turned on to make the number 1. (We didn't mention the 1966 sniper attack to Flat Morgan. She is just a kid, after all.)

Old Whole Foods headquarters

Two well-known companies got their start in Austin — Whole Foods Market and Dell Computers. Whole Foods is now in a bigger, fancier building across the street from this one. You can spend hours and hundreds of dollars there. It has yummy food stations scattered throughout the store. Take a look around before you start noshing.

Texas Hill Country with Downtown way in the back

Most people think of Texas as flat and dry. But Austin is part of the Texas Hill Country. It's in the middle of a drought right now, but when this picture was taken, it was still kind of lush. Here's Flat Morgan at the Capital of Texas Highway lookout with downtown Austin in the background.

Prickly Pear Cactus

We ended our tour of Austin with a stereotypical shot of Flat Morgan with the official state plant, the Prickly Pear Cactus. After a good night's rest, we mailed her back to Malibu with these pictures as a memento of her visit. A few days after she returned home, her brother inventively realized he could restore her back to her natural 3D form with the help of a bicycle pump. Morgan is flat no more and about to start university on a softball scholarship. A decade has passed since this trip, but it's one we still fondly remember.

Pssst... if you have a kid in early elementary school, you may enjoy reading the book Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown which was the inspiration for this school project.


  1. Cute! Flat Morgan has been to more places than me!

  2. Cute cute cute!!! I love that Flat Morgan got to visit so many fun places in Austin!! Hope your visit back home is going well.

    Thanks for linking up with us this week!

  3. So much fun - and what a great spin on the Flat Stanley story! Looks like Flat Morgan had a great time in Austin!

    1. We received Flat Morgan when our oldest was still a toddler. It was a few more years before we got around to reading the actual Flat Stanley story.

  4. Now, if only I could do that! Flat Morgan's having fun.

  5. Very cute! Flat Morgan did a good job of hitting the highlights of my old stomping grounds.

  6. Loved this! How lucky Flat Morgan was to end up with you guys and visit all of Austin. My daughter did a Flat Stanley but he didn't go to as many fun places as Morgan did. That's what happens when you send him to the grandparents :) I'm still wishing we get to host one of these guests.

  7. Great tour of Austin! So many more places I want to visit...

    1. I think you've been to more Texas places than I have. I've may have driven through Lubbock once on my way out of the state.

  8. Is Flat Morgan, Flat Stanley's sister?

    1. Flat Morgan is my cousin's girl who did this as a school project. She's into surfing and softball.

  9. My daughter sent a Flat Stanley to out-of-state relatives this year for school. It was a lot of fun. Flat Morgan makes Austin look like a great place to visit too!

  10. Thanks for showing Flat Morgan and us around Austin, Texas. We haven't been to Austin, Texas yet, so I'm glad we have this post to guide us when (not if, when) we go there. And now I'm thinking I should have found out what the official plant of Massachusetts is and taken a picture of my Flat Stanley with it. Oh well... I did take a ton of other photos, so I hope that will do.


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