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Thursday, February 10, 2011
TRAVEL WITH SERENA -- HERE TODAY, POSSIBLY GONE TOMORROW
Travel editor Serena Brower reminds us today that nothing lasts forever. -- AP
We think of tourist destinations as places that will always be there for us to see. Many of them are on our “someday” list, but for some of these places, “someday” may not be around someday. Today I’d like to tell you about a place that attracts upwards of 100,000 sightseers each year but may be gone by the time it comes up on your “must see” list.
There’s a very freaky phenomenon in Austin, Texas. At least, I think it’s freaky for anyone other than vampires and their fans, but certain critters have never had much of an appeal to me. You, on the other hand, might want to check this place out. It’s Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge.
What’s so special about this one particular bridge? It’s home to the largest bat colony in the world, approximately a million and a half Mexican free-tail bats. Every evening throughout the summer, these bats emerge from their colony under the bridge to feast on insects.
I’m told the sight is spectacular. I’ll take their word for it. I have no desire to see it for myself. However, if you’re batty about bats, you’d better high-tail it to Austin pretty soon because the bats are being threatened. White nose syndrome, a mysterious disease that’s killing bats, is making it’s way across the country. There’s a very real chance that white nose syndrome might wipe out the entire bat population in America.
As much as bats give me the heebie-jeebies, they’re an important link in our ecological chain because they keep insect populations in check. We lose bats, and we tip the fine balance of the ecosystem.
We also lose an awesome sight to behold each summer evening in Austin (or so I’m told.) No one knows if white nose syndrome will wipe out the bats, but if the Congress Avenue Bridge is on your list of sights to see at some point in your life, you might want to consider moving it up closer to the top of your list.
Thanks, Serena. I’m with you when it comes to bats. I once found one living in my bedroom window well when we removed an air-conditioner. I think they probably heard me screaming all the way to Austin, Texas! What about the rest of you? Any bat experiences? Post a comment to be entered in the drawing for a free book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP