Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley’s in Austin Texas!

Emma sent Flat Stanley to visit her Uncle Jim, Aunt Tonja, Cousin Shannon and Cousin Darrock who live in Austin Texas.  Where’s Austin?  Well here’s a map showing Chatham NJ and Austin Texas, 1720 miles apart!

That sounds far!  How far?  Well, if you drove from Chatham to the Statue of Liberty, you would drive 20 miles each way.  So driving to Texas and back would be like going to visit the Statue of Liberty 86 times!

So who did I see?

I saw cousin Shannon…

And my new cousin Darrock!

And I met Oscar and Felix too (they sleep a lot when it’s hot):

Shannon is one and a half years old and she loves being a big sister.  Darrock is 7 weeks old, and he loves smiling.  He can’t do very much yet – he’s too small.  Since he’s soo small, we didn’t get to leave the house too often, so we spent time in Northwest Austin.  It’s called the Texas Hill Country, and there are lots of creeks, lakes and hills. Uncle Jim put together pictures from around Austin for us.

What kind of animals can you see?

There are also some pretty neat animals that live here.  There are lots of animals that you are used to seeing, but I bet you don’t have any of these living in your front yard:

This is called a Texas Spiny Lizard.  This one was about 8 inches long.  Some of them grow bigger than that.  This one lives in the front yard landscaping and we watched it from the front window.  It gets pretty hot in Texas, so they have stones, boulders, cactus and flowering bushes in the front yard.  It’s a nice place for a big lizard to live in – lots of small places to hide. Here’s a picture of a baby one on the fence:

While I was here a pair of Mocking Birds had babies.  Here is one of the babies after it left the nest.  It liked to perch on the fence next to the house.

There are lots of Turkey Vultures around here too.  Here are some at the lake:

There are also different kinds of snakes here.  This is one that Felix found at the lake:

And of course…horses!

There are lots of horses in Texas.  This wasn’t Austin, it was further North in Liberty Hill on a ranch.  Shannon went to visit a friend’s horses.  They’re not cowboys though!

What’s nearby?

Well, there are many different neat things about Austin.  About 500,000 people live in Austin, and another 500,000 live in small towns around the city.  It’s not nearly as big as where you live.  But there is a small downtown kind of like New York City.

There are lots of buildings, with two really famous ones.  There’s the University of Texas clock tower – they light that up in “Burnt Orange” whenever the team wins a game.

There’s also the State Capitol building.

It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Shannon and Darrock’s house to downtown.

There’s a big lake that’s closer to their house.  It’s called Lake Travis.  It’s a lake that’s used for flood control and drinking water.  The rain is unpredictable here, sometimes it rains a lot, and other times it doesn’t rain often at all.  Two years ago there were big floods in July and the lake was really full.  Here’s a picture of a road that flooded on the way to the dog’s favorite swimming spot:

Then there was a big drought last year and the lake level went down almost 80 feet!  Here’s a picture of the damn that made the lake – it’s about 5 minutes from Shannon and Darrock’s house:

It’s a pretty lake.  Here it is at sunset:

What’s the weather like?

It’s pretty hot down here.  Uncle Jim works with numbers all day, so he always seems to find a way to work them into a project.  Here’s the difference in average high temperatures for each month in Austin and New York.

Normally it is in the mid 80’s during May, but it has been over 90 degrees every day that I have been here.  That’s about 10 degrees above normal!  They think it’s going to be another hot summer here.  It snows here about once every 5 years.  The snow usually falls at night, and then it melts in a few hours.  Usually only about 1 inch sticks to the ground.  It’s a big deal when it snows here!