Dad and I still had to hunt down a few dozen of the 72 CowParade Austin cows. The weather reports told us that is was going to be very hot, so we got started early that Saturday morning, and we were photographing our first cow by 9:00 AM.
This is a short story about our encounter with our 10th cow we photographed that morning. “Udderly Austin” was painted by Patti Schermerhorn, and was sponsored by Schlotzsky’s. Patti has a very nice web page showing the art projects that she has done for charities. She even has a photo of Jay Leno auctioning off Udderly Austin. [here]
Even though we had moved quickly and photographed 9 cows in just over two hours, we were already starting to suffer, as the temperature was already well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m not going to go into great detail in creating a story about just how brutal it was, but I was genuinely concerned about Dad’s ability to deal with this kind of heat – because I was also suffering from the stress of being out on the streets and sidewalks that were too hot to touch.
Udderly Austin was on the northeast corner of the Schlotzsky’s at the corner of South Lamar Blvd. and Toomey Road. This is adjacent to Zachary Scott Theater, just south of the Colorado River in downtown Austin.
As you can see by the shadow underneath this very colorful cow, the sun was almost directly over us at 11:15 AM that morning.
The scene painted onto this side of the cow is the view of downtown Austin that you would have if you simply walked a block to the northeast of where we were standing. That’s the Texas State Capitol Building on the face of Udderly Austin.
It was hot. Very hot. The sun was blazing. The heat radiating off of the sidewalk was cooking my sneakers. This was going to be done quickly, or someone was going to be taken to the hospital. I was going to circle this cow once, take a few photos, and get the hell out of there.
This was the photo that I used in my CowParade Austin calendar.
I went around to the other side of the cow. This is the view that those inside of the Schlotzsky’s restaurant had of the cow. To me, it looked like a completely different cow than I had seen from the other side. Also, this side was in the shade, and background was nothing but blinding glare from the sidewalk street, and concrete pad that the cow was standing on. I popped my flash unit on top of my Canon 5D Mark II, and took this one photo.
You can see the reflections of the flash, and I knew that under different circumstances that I could have done much better. I also knew that we quickly needed to seek shelter somewhere, so there wasn’t time to dilly-dally. I walked up next to the cow and took a photo of the plaque underneath her.
It was too dang hot to even think about walking across Lamar Blvd. and the half block to our car. I suggested that we go inside of Schlotzky’s and get a iced soft drink. Dad would rarely ever go for such a suggestion, but this time he quickly agreed.
We spent nearly 30 minutes inside the air conditioned restaurant, and had nearly finished our second iced soft drink, before our body temperature returned to something near normal. We had come dangerously close to heat exhaustion.
After we walked back to the car, we turned on the radio, where we learned that it was already 108 degrees (at only 12:00 PM). Now we have lived in Austin for 40 years, and we have seen our share of hot weather, but rarely does it ever got THAT hot here. I’m sure that we could count the number of times that it has been 108 or hotter on one single hand….
We did stop and photograph 3 more cows before we returned home, but I was able to park the car within 50 feet (16 meters) of each one, and the car’s air conditioner did its best to attempt to blow cool air on us between each stop. By the time that we got home, the temperature had reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
The record highest temperature ever recorded in Austin, TX is 112 degees. It has reached that mark twice. The 1st time was Sept. 5, 2000. The 2nd time it did so was the day after we photographed Udderly Austin (July 28, 2011).