Red Bud Isle: Austin, Texas

Within my first week of owning my dog in Austin, several people had recommended that I take her to Red Bud Isle. It sounded far away, being an isle and all. It wasn’t until a few months later that I finally researched the place and began to understand what it is in full: a half-mile long island in the middle of the Colorado River (Lady Bird Lake) intended for and used primarily by dogs and their owners. The parking lot sits adjacent to a field, which is surrounded by thick woods on every side, split only slightly by the dirt path that encircles the island. Much smaller paths dart off through the trees and toward the surrounding water, providing a dozen or so beaches and swimming holes that are dog friendly. These pools are, no doubt, my dog’s favorite part of Red Bud. But my favorite part is the scenery.

%Gallery-161016%Densely wooded areas are something I’ve been missing since moving to Texas. Impressively steep and lush hills are another thing I’ve been missing since moving to Texas. Red Bud offers me both of these. Dramatic cliffs outline the shores across the water. If you look hard enough, you’ll see hidden stairs leading to the water from the peaks of the hills. If you look even harder than that, you’ll see elaborate mansions dotting the hazy hilltop horizons. Meanwhile, green and waxy tropical leaves brush your shoulders as you wade into the water, in which you’re apparently not supposed to wade (but since many other people are swimming, it seems alright). The image is that of blue-green water lapping in softly beneath umbrella-spread trees that shade you from the oppressive sun. Some of the waters hug dirt beaches; some of the waters splash on cement stairs. At the tip of the island, on the opposite side of the parking lot, the waters crawl between stiff, exposed and braided roots of trees.

Dogs are allowed to be off-leash at Red Bud. As you trek the island’s perimeter and interior, you’ll find yourself approached by dogs of all colors and sizes. In my experience, these dogs tend to be well behaved. Perhaps this is indicative of the kinds of owners that take the time to visit Red Bud in the first place. Ebullient and prancing, these dogs are having their best day ever when at Red Bud. The proof is in their tongue-dropping, wide-mouth smiles. And there’s something infectious about dog happiness if you ask me. Dogs are these loving creatures created, more or less, by us. We bred them for sport and help, but also for love, and here they are now, needing us for food, water, shelter and play. When their basic needs are met, especially that last one, they are a testament to the fact that we too don’t need much to live. We don’t need much to be happy, either.