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So you've just moved to Austin, in the heart of Central Texas, and you can't get out of the state without driving eight hours in any given direction. Are your road trips ruined?
Absolutely not. In fact, they're just getting started.
This week, you'll see stories useful for someone new to Austin in anticipation of Austonia's "How to Austin" event. To attend, sign up here.
You know what they say about Texas, everything is bigger here. In fact, one of the best things about living in Texas is its size—you never have to leave to find a good time. Here are some of the Lone Star State's humble sights and scenes, both near and far. The drive time estimate is measured from downtown Austin.
San Marcos - 45 minute drive
Ask any local San Martians and they will tell you there's no place they'd rather spend the weekend than sun-bathing at Sewell Park or on the Blanco River, floating to their heart's content. It may look like just an ordinary body of water but the river naturally stays 70 degrees year-round, is kept very clean with the help of the community and is brimming with local plant life and creatures.
However, nature isn't the only thing this college town has to offer. Home to Texas State University and a widely-renowned set of outlet malls, San Marcos also has a quaint downtown with dozens of shops, restaurants and bars. Stay for Gil's Manske rolls and Rhea's world-famous artisan ice cream—it is worth the trip.
Wimberley - 55 minute drive
With its homemade boutiques, locally-sourced restaurants and even Tiki bars, Wimberley's cute and colorful town is enough to make anyone stop in. The town is a quintessential example of the Hill Country with its sprawling mounds and luscious atmosphere. Stop by on a Saturday for its famous Market Days, which features almost 500 vendors, before chowing down at The Leaning Pear.
Although the town is picturesque, it isn't even the main attraction. Wimberley is the home to Jacob's Well and the Blue Hole, one of the most popular swimming holes in Central Texas. Feel your inner daredevil come to life when you jump off a 15-foot cliff into Jacob's Well and then go for a peaceful swim in crystal clear waters at Blue Hole.
Johnson City - 1 hour drive
The former home of the 36th president of the U.S., Lyndon B. Johnson, Johnson City is appropriately named. There, you'll find the LBJ Ranch, where you can tour the former president's childhood home, ranch and the Texas Whitehouse.
After you've wrapped up in Johnson City, Pedernales Falls State Park is just a quick drive away and is an excellent place to spend the day hiking, swimming and enjoying the Texas view. The park was immortalized in Richard Linklater's film "Boyhood," so it has a special connection to Austin.
Marble Falls - 1 hour 10 minute drive
Fitting the same vibe as many other small towns on the list, Marble Falls has a charming downtown with a bevy of local eateries. However, the real attraction to Marble Falls is the beautiful nature that surrounds it. With rock formations galore, Longhorn Cavern State Park will bring out your inner adventurer while you tour, hike and picnic in the Cave of Legends.
If you would rather spend your day in the sunshine, Sweet Berry Farm is a great way to spend an afternoon and get your berry fix at the same time. Just remember to go in-season and share your goodies with your loved ones.
San Antonio - 1 hour 15 minute drive
As one of the bigger cities in Texas, San Antonio is packed to the brim with things to do. You're not a true Texan until you've walked the halls of the Alamo. And if that isn't enough history for you, check out the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
While in SA, you simply can't miss the famous Riverwalk. San Antonio's Riverwalk is home to delicious Mexican food that you can eat riverside, levels upon levels of shops and attractions, a pavilion for live bands and dancers, all complete with beautiful scenery to follow you as you walk.
Fredericksburg - 1 hour 20 minute drive
This small town is not just known for its peaches, though make sure you don't leave until you get some. With more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms to visit while you're in town, you'll practically be swimming in local wine— there is even a road, Wine Road 290, dedicated to the nectar.
If drinking isn't your bag, roam the 200 Instagram-worthy acres of Wildseed Farms to pick a lush wildflower bouquet or take a hike up to Enchanted Rock for the view of a lifetime.
Houston - 2 hour 45 minute drive
It may be the furthest drive on the list but a well-versed Texan is one who is familiar with their sister cities. Houston is a cultural mecca and one of the most international cities in the U.S. All that to say, Houston has great food, fabulous museum culture and plenty of monuments to visit.
While you're there, make sure to visit the second-most populated Chinatown in the U.S., NASA's Space Center and the San Jacinto Monument and Museum. For a truly unique experience, visit the Rothko Chapel, which houses several original Mark Rothko paintings. The exhibit is free but you must follow one rule: complete silence once you enter.
There are so many sights to see in Texas so if you finish all these, don't worry, Texas is always going to be interesting.
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In a match marred by injuries and key player absences, Austin FC lost 2-0 in Los Angeles for the second time on Saturday to West Division titan LA Galaxy.
Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver was tasked with the near-insurmountable task of holding back the LA Galaxy's Chicharito, who is now the league's top scorer this season, and he nearly succeeded.
The club saw its first major threat from the formidable Chicharito when a penalty was drawn on Jhohan Romana. In his usual game-saving fashion, Stuver leapt to the right to kept the scoreboard empty and block what many thought would be the league leader's first goal of the match.
With a Hector Jimenez injury midway through play, a Jon Gallagher absence due to injury and a man down as Captain Alex Ring sat the bench, however, the team was unable to get a win in their second trip to Los Angeles.
Austin FC was slated to play against the odds after Ring was benched due to a second yellow card last week. To cover the wound, the club put standout rookie Daniel Pereira in his stead and placed Danny Hoesen back at the crown of the lineup after fellow striker Gallagher stayed home.
Hector Jimenez got his first start with the club at right back in the stead of Nick Lima, but the run was short-lived. The 32-year-old suffered an injury after attempting to save the first LA Galaxy goal, but Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget still scored the match opener after popping a shot over Stuver to make the match 1-0.
Austin FC plateaued through much of the first half, and the forces of the universe were in the Galaxy's favor as they encroached on Austin's defense.
The club found new stamina, as they usually do, when a set of subs were brought in to up the club's tempo, and ten minutes of the match were entirely Kekuta Manneh's. Manneh, the club's only player with Austin ties, subbed in the 60th minute of play and immediately made an attempt on goal. The winger would make three more attempts, one of which just missed the top right corner of goal, before LA made its next advances on Austin's defense.
Head coach Josh Wolff said he hoped for a goal for Manneh, who doesn't often get to hit the pitch.
"His contributions were obvious, and I would have liked to see him get a goal there," Wolff said.
It looked like Austin might tie it up during the "Kekuta Era," but Chicharito played true to his stats. Stuver went head-to-head with Chicharrito once again and lost as he scored his seventh goal in five matches in the 77th minute of play.
⚽️ x 7️⃣@CH14_ scores his league-leading seventh of the season! #LAvATX pic.twitter.com/28zLnOmKWb
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 15, 2021
Matt Besler said he was up for a challenge as the club's central defender and he's unsurprised at Chicharito's success. Besler also said and he respects Chicharito on and off the pitch becuase of his openness about mental illness.
"I was looking forward to the challenge," Besler said. "His recognition of where the space is world class, and it's no surprise that he's scored goals everywhere that he's gone. I respect him as a player and I also respect him off the field."
Another attempt on goal was made by the Galaxy's Kevin Cabral, who sunk one in past Stuver just minutes later, but the goal was called offsides. Still, the match came to an anticlimactic end as Austin FC was unable to get one in goal and lost 2-0.
Besler, who has seen the ebbs and flows of his Sporting Kansas City, his club of 12 years, said that it takes patience to be a successful team. Still, he's impressed that Austin FC has made as much ground as they have in their expansion year.
"I understand that it's going to be a process, and we are in our fifth game of our existence, but the fact that we're at where we are at isa good sign," Besler said. "Towards the last third of the season, that's when hopefully we can peak and look a lot like our final product."
Austin FC will have a chance to snap their two-match losing streak as they head to Nashville SC for their sixth-straight road match at 8 p.m.on Sunday.
Nearly half of Travis County residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated, as of Friday afternoon, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. And an even greater portion likely have immunity.
Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott estimates that around 70% of local residents have some form of immunity to COVID-19, either because they have recovered from the disease or are vaccinated. This is approaching the threshold for herd immunity.
"We're starting to approach that 70% mark of combined disease and vaccination, so we may start to see some significant changes when it comes to disease trends," he told council members and county commissioners on Tuesday.
Escott arrived at this percentage by assuming that there is no overlap between those who have had COVID and those who have been vaccinated. "While there's certainly some overlap … there does not seem to be a lot of overlap between those two," he said.
Herd immunity occurs when enough people are immune to a disease that it is unlikely for someone who contracts the disease to spread it. With no one to infect, the disease dies out.
Public health experts have said herd immunity for COVID will require around 80% of the population to be immune based on its relative infectiousness.
Although natural immunity contributes to herd immunity and is partially responsible for the sharp downturn in the number of new COVID infections in recent months, vaccination is the gold standard among experts because of the increased security it offers.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler celebrated the new CDC guidance as proof of vaccines' efficacy. "Since more people will not be wearing masks, it makes it even more important to get vaccinated," he said in a statement Friday.
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