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Drive to Austin

December 22, 2023   

It’s quite a long drive from Dallas to Austin, but there’s also quite a lot to see on the way.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

It is probably a place I will never forget. I saw so many wild species for the first time, and possibly the only time in my life, while having the chance to touch and feed them, including a giraffe. The wildlife center is about a 2-hour drive from Dallas, with a slight detour towards Austin since I needed to take the state road rather than the interstate highway. However, the drive was quite enjoyable, with virtually no other cars on this massive three-lane road in one direction. Yes, everything in Texas is big: the roads, the pickup trucks, and even the wildlife park.

It’s a drive-thru, self-guided tour, so we were able to stop and pet the animals along the way, armed with a free bag of snacks to entice them, which proved really effective. Antelopes, leopards, rhinoceroses, sika deer, ostriches, giraffes, and so many other wild animals are present in the park, with some of them being among the smartest species in the world. When our car approached them and slowed down, they ran towards us, and some of the braver ones even put their heads into our car for food, which was both cute and amusing. I panicked for a moment when an ostrich put its giant head and long neck into our car.


Feeding the giraffe was a unique experience; its huge tongue licked our hands for the food, leaving a really long line of saliva. It was somewhat disgusting but amazing in that moment. At least the giraffe was very cute and friendly to humans, as were most of the animals there.


Overall, it was a really fun and interactive experience. The entire tour lasted more than 2 hours, and we saw a vast array of different animals.

Dinosaur Valley State Park

It is very close to the Wildlife Center, which is also located in Glen Rose, TX. The park was not fully open due to the rain yesterday, which made all the trails muddy. We were able to hike along the river a bit and had a clear view of all the dinosaur tracks from 100 million years ago. I could even imagine them running towards each other for a fight here, exactly 100 million years ago. And now, people observe their tracks for fun and research purposes.

Inks Lake State Park

While it was a spontaneous destination we decided on after finding out there were no available kayak rentals near Buchanan Lake, the park, located in Kingsland, is just an hour and a half away from Austin. It offers amazing views of the lake and the surrounding beautiful residences. We were lucky to arrive at the park during sunset, where the reflection of the clouds and the colorful sunshine on the lake took our breath away. It was simply stunning. I even considered swimming here since the water, ‘warm’ by my standards, was inviting compared to the truly freezing waters I’ve experienced in Asheville, NC, and Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. However, I ultimately decided against it, not wanting to disturb the view, which was better than a painting. Ducks were hanging out in the lake while the sun set in the distance, leaving a sky and clouds tinged with red, orange, and purplish hues for us to appreciate. The golden sunlight shone on my face, warm and satisfying.


Haojin Li
CompSci + PoliSci undergrad - because one major alone wasn’t enough to confuse me.