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Bat Bridge kayaking and Noble Sandwich Co.

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The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, is a famous home to approximately 1.5 million bats during the summer months, and every night at sunset, crowds gather to watch the nocturnal animals swarm out from their nests beneath the bridge. As my friends and I crossed the bridge at around 7 p.m. on the Fourth of July to get to the Austin Symphony Orchestra concert (where we would also watch some fireworks), I wistfully thought about how cool it would have been to wait for the bats to come out at dusk. The fireworks show was a priority though, and so I said farewell to the thought of seeing the Congress Avenue Bridge bats.

The next day, we decided to get one last adventure done in Austin before heading back home to Ardmore. So, the six of us that went on this Fourth of July weekend vacation (Debotri Chatterjee, Johanna L’Heureux, Ben Brown, Andrew McNair, Laura Nelson and I) paired off to rent tandem kayaks on Lady Bird Lake. I’ve never been kayaking in an urban setting before, and it was so cool to see skyscrapers from our vantage point on the water. As Debotri and I paddled under the Congress Avenue Bridge, I was hit by a thick musky stench and a loud screeching overhead. The bats! I thought they’d be silently asleep in this bright daylight and that we wouldn’t be able to detect their existence. It was so amazing to hear so many of these endangered creatures living right next to the tall skyscrapers and busy streets of a huge city.

After our hour’s rental was finished, we piled back into the Grand Marquis that the Noble Research Institute is letting us use for the summer, and we headed to our final destination before heading out: lunch. I’d seen great reviews for the Noble Sandwich Co. on Yelp, and I’d heard that it had been featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It was not only a fitting place for a group of interns working at the Noble Research Institute but ended up being a delicious and unique meal.

kayakingFrom left: Johanna L’Heurex, Laura Nelson, Debotri Chatterjee, Jessi Hennacy, Ben Brown and Andrew McNair kayaking on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas.

noble sandwich coFrom left: Ben Brown, Johanna L’Heurex, Laura Nelson, Jessi Hennacy, Debotri Chatterjee and Andrew McNair at the Noble Sandwich Co. in Austin, Texas.

Jessi Hennacy is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Plant Science from Columbia, Maryland.