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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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17 years and three medals later, Osterman's last ride with USA softball is over. What's next for Cat?
Nearly two decades after her debut with the University of Texas and 17 years after her first Olympic gold, softball icon Cat Osterman stepped off the Olympic pitcher's mound for the last time with a silver medal to take back home.
Osterman, a three-time Olympian who has been called the "Michael Jordan of softball," will officially retire from the international realm at 38 after a decorated career that included Olympic golds, years of retirement and plenty of adversity—from a worldwide pandemic to dashed gold-medal dreams.
Osterman and her crew left Tokyo on a bittersweet note on Tuesday with a silver medal in hand.
Osterman with Team USA in 2008. (Antoni Majewski/Twitter)
Osterman in the final in 2021. (Antoni Majewski/Twitter)
After a year of sparse in-person training and over a decadelong hiatus, Team USA and Osterman flew to the finals. In five games, the team beat Italy (2-0), Canada (1-0), Mexico (2-0), Australia (2-1), and Japan (2-1).
Deja vu struck in the final match. On one side, Osterman and fellow 2008 Olympic teammate Monica Abbott took the mound; on the other was the 39-year-old Yukiko Ueno, a familiar foe who helped the team beat Team USA last go-round.
"Just like 13 years ago," Ueno said in a press conference, "we were facing each other in the final."
Ueno, who had lost hopes at gold to Osterman in '04, outpitched her longtime opponent with six scoreless innings as Team USA was held to just three hits. The same team that squandered their gold-medal hopes 13 years before had done it once again.
Your Tokyo 2020 Olympic Silver Medalists 🇺🇸#TokyoOlympics | @TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/MOMNOedHUd
— USA Softball Women's National Team 🇺🇸 (@USASoftballWNT) July 27, 2021
"There's a little bit of disappointment in not bringing home the gold since that's the eye on the prize when you go over there and you know you have a shot at it," Osterman told Austonia. "But more than anything, I'm very proud of the way our team handled everything that was part of this journey and not just the six games."
It's that very loss at the 2008 Olympics that partially motivated Osterman to get back on the mound. She officially put down the glove in 2015 after six seasons with the USSSA Pride, took time with family and began coaching at Texas State University.
Osterman helped ace Randi Rupp to greatness while a coach at Texas State University. (Active Voice Health/Twitter)
She thought her Olympic endeavors were well over—until talks of reinstating softball into the Games reentered the conversation.
"It wasn't until 2016 or 2017, that it ever crossed my mind to possibly put the USA uniform on again," Osterman said. "After the World Championships in 2010, I walked away, and I thought that my career on the international stage was done. So this was a pleasant kind of new opportunity."
Three years after facing any competition, Osterman was on the field once more with world-class athletes. Some, like Osterman and Abbott, had been playing together long enough to form a formidable "Fire and Ice" duo on the mound. Others had just graduated college.
Osterman said playing with a younger generation of athletes was one of the most rewarding aspects of this year's Games.
"It can be very different when you have 24- and 38-year-olds on the same field," Osterman said. "The adversity put us in some challenging positions and we came through with flying colors. And this group will forever be special just because what we had to go through is so different."
While on the mound, Osterman's job was to give the team a calm start. Off of the field, she felt her role had much of the same effect: she knew that new Olympic feeling, and she served as a deep breath to her first-time teammates.
"There's no words to explain how nervous and excited you get knowing that the whole world can be watching," Osterman. "I think using those emotions and figuring out how to get all our butterflies lined up and going in the right direction, so that way we were all moving together, was kind of my role outside of pitching."
We've heard her retire once before, but this time Osterman said she's gone for good—even from coaching. After her final time with Team USA on Sept. 27, she plans on returning to Austin, where she'll look to work for a nonprofit.
A gold and two silvers will have to do for one of the most decorated athletes in U.S. softball history.
"To be able to say you're a three-time Olympic medalist is a pretty special deal, right?" Osterman. "I played for a long time. But those are the pinnacle, in my mind, and kind of what elicits the dream to keep playing."
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Hospitals are facing a "significant" increase in admissions of pregnant women due to COVID-19 complications, Austin-Travis County health officials say, revealing what could be a long-term side effect of the virus.
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes met with three maternal medicine specialists on Monday morning to warn of yet another COVID-19 Delta variant concern: severe cases of the disease affecting unvaccinated mothers-to-be.
The doctors said unvaccinated pregnant women face an increased risk of preterm births, long-term effects, preeclampsia, ICU stays, stillbirths, being put on life support and even death if they are unvaccinated.
"We are really concerned that we are not getting that population of folks to hear this message of the safety of vaccines, so today we're assembled, one and all to say, wear a mask and please get vaccinated," Walkes said. "Vaccinations are the way to prevent severe disease and hospitalizations and death."
Medical Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at St. David's Women's Center of Texas Dr. Kimberly DeStefano said 95% of pregnant women admitted with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, stressing that all pregnant and lactating women should get the vaccine not only to protect themselves but to protect their babies from infection, which can be passed through breastmilk or birth.
"We know that the earlier in pregnancy you are vaccinated, the more antibodies are present at the time of birth for the infant," DeStefano said. "This is something that's very important, both during the pregnancy and postpartum."
Catching COVID-19 while pregnant can cause adverse effects on the baby, particularly because it increases the risk of preterm births. Baylor Scott & White Maternal Obstetrics Chief of Maternal Medicine Dr. Jessica Ehrig, said that preterm births are one of the "biggest impacts" on childhood development.
"We know that (preterm births) can have long-term effects depending on how early a baby's born," Ehrig said. "It increases the risk for long term respiratory issues, for blindness sometimes (and) for neurologic development delays."
Since mid-July, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been on a steep rise that sent the city back to recommending Stage 4 guidelines. As the seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations surpassed 50 admissions, Stage 5 guidelines could be on the horizon. The city reported 54 new admissions and 546 total new cases on Friday.
Delta is more contagious than chickenpox, Walkes said, and even vaccinated individuals can catch and spread the virus without symptoms. The group of doctors asked everyone, especially pregnant women, to mask while in public as local hospitals pass the Stage 5 threshold.
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