Austin is unique.

Our Trip To Austin – Getting to Know the City and the Waldorf School

We had a great trip to Austin.  We went for a vacation primarily to learn more about the Austin Waldorf School.  We visited Austin before for a friend’s wedding, so we were excited to refresh our memory of Austin, especially with the lense of perhaps choosing Austin to live.

We traveled with our kids and also their Grandmother, and stayed for 9 days in an AirBNB in Rollingwood.  This was a strategic place, located in the greenbelt of Barton Springs, considered the Beverly Hills of Austin (I guess).
During this trip we did not focus too much on downtown Austin, but rather the surrounding neighborhoods.  We had a few great meals.  Folks in Austin were really nice, friendly.
While in Austin, we connected with a wonderful Realtor named Stephen Stephanian and his wife Morgan.  They rolled out the red carpet and took us around to see what must have been 30 homes.  Stephen was always available to help us, even on short notice, with drinks in the cooler and snacks for the kids.  Stephen and Morgan are such authentic people, we’ll choose them for sure for our home search in Austin.
We needed to break up the home tours, so we visited Volente Beach, where they have a small but great waterpark, with slides, pools, and a beach on Lake Travis.  It was so much fun we went there two times.  Three times if you include a sailboat charter right next door that took us out for a few hours to a nice private cove.  We jumped off the rocks, swam, and just floated around.  We chartered a Catalina 22′ sailboat with Patric as our captain, from Volente Sail and Paddle.  We visited Little Devil’s Cove, best known for its sheltered, private cove and deep, clear water.
We also visited an amazing waterpark to the south for about 45 minutes, called Schlitterbahn (which means slippery road).  For about $40/person, we arrived at noon and stayed until 5 pm.  We must have floated on the Lazy River there about 20 times.  Amazing tube rides.  We rented a cabana for about $200/day as a place to get out of the heat.  Although we did not use it too much, it was probably worth it.  But during peak season without a pandemic happening, when wait times are longer, and if you are spending a whole day…  it’s probably a requirement!

Austin Weather

We visited during the Summer and during a heatwave.  After two days, we were acclimated and it did not bother us too much.  We woke up before the kids and had coffee together on the screened porch of our Rollingwood AirBNB home.   The morning humidity made it felt like the tropical weather of the Bahamas or Hawaii.  Often times we saw a family of deer frolic through the backyard, which was a quaint experience.  Other times, I had to relocate a cockroach or two, which the kids and wife didn’t much like.  In addition, the locusts/cicadas provided a pleasant but eerie backdrop to the mornings and evenings with the sound they make.  I loved it, especially seeing the abandoned shell/carapace exoskeleton of these cicadas, the kids thought it was cool and gross at the same time.
Despite being the hottest time to visit during an unexpected heatwave, we were able to function normally.  Lots of sunscreen was needed.  The last two days when the temperature hit low 90s, it was surprisingly nice, especially when there was a nice, light breeze!
On the second day of our trip we discovered Barton Springs pool, but it was closed.  Strangely enough the distant sound of music, people splashing and having fun could be heard.  A Park employee walked by, with a lifeguard shirt on, and I asked him how to get into the pool.  He said it was closed due to COVID, and people should not be down there, and it was against the rules and law.  A few seconds later and in the same breath, he told us that if we crawl through the opening in the chain-link fence and walk down, we could access the spring and enjoy it for free.  We were touched by his kindness and did exactly that.  When we got down there, there must have been 50 people all enjoying the springs, just on the other side of the public pool area of Barton Springs where you have to pay to get in.  The music was blasting, people were having a great time, and small fish were swimming beneath us.  Great memory.

Austin Neighborhoods and Homes

From my perspective during this trip and its purpose, I mentally carved up Austin into four regions, the obvious ones of directional quadrants, NW, NE, SW, and SE.
NW: Lake Travis Country: Lakeway, Vineyard, Rough Hallow.
N: Upscale Neighborhoods: Rolling Wood, Barton Springs, Steiner Ranch, River Place.
NE: Silicon Prairie, Tech Buildout, and the new Downtown (NE): The Domain, Cedar Park, Round Rock, etc.
SW: Waldorf Neighborhoods: Bee Cave, Bear Creek
SE:  Did not explore.
An important dividing line is Lake Austin, depending on which side you are on, North or South.  If are on the Northside of Lake Austin (river), then commuting to Bee Cave or Waldorf would be approximately 45 minutes, but commuting to Tech jobs is easy.  That’s why probably a lot of Californian’s live in Steiner Ranch, since this is just north/east of the Colorado River (Lake Austin).
  • We loved the scenic beauty of Lakeway and Vineyard Bay.
  • Bee Cave and Bear Creek properties were very nice, big homes on lots of acreages.
  • Spanish Oaks Gated Community was very memorable.

Austin Fun Places, Sights, and Activities

Austin Waldorf School

  • Situated on 27 acres, they own the land, no debt, 6 months financial reserve.
  • Medical exemptions and personal beliefs easily accepted.  The vaccination rate of families is around 30-50% only.
  • Additional modular classroom buildings are on order, set to arrive soon to accommodate splitting classrooms from 30 to 15 students.
  • Dedicated, large performing arts with concert-quality seating and enormous stage.
  • Dedicated, full-size gymnasium, for basketball and volleyball.  They have won competitions for both throughout the years.
  • Dedicated knitting, handiwork building, absolutely full of fabric, yarn, etc.
  • Dedicated Blacksmith building, where they operate a forge, anvil, ironwork.  Kids get to start using the forge in 9th grade, making ironworks, swords, etc.
  • Enormous sandpit building, where they do sand sculpture and yearly competitions.  At first I thought it was an ayahuasca hut, it is so big.
  • Grade school and high school on the same campus.  Walking trails everywhere connecting the buildings.  Kids will definitely get exercise walking from one building to another.
  • Tuition much less than Los Altos Waldorf.
  • Recess areas are enormous grass fields.
  • Spanish and German taught.  In later grades, children can choose to continue either language.
  • Current 5th grade teacher.

Conclusion

Despite falling in love with Austin, the homes, cuisine, and enjoying the people very much, sadly our plans are delayed.  This year will be a year of wait and see, planning anything during a pandemic is hard at best.  We’ll be returning back to Austin in the Spring.  Until then, we’re still exploring the possibility!