Brad Stevens : Austin, TX

FEELING ALIVE
... a short story about an experience at Hippie Hollow, a clothing optional beach

At the time I write this, I have lived in Texas for a little over a year. During this time, I'd heard my share of stories about Hippie Hollow, a county-run park just outside Austin, Texas and on Lake Travis where clothing is optional. But, I've never ventured out to sun my buns.

I should mention that I have been to Hippie Hollow before. Ya see, about three years ago, when John and I were dating, he took me to the park for a late night swim on one of the many weekend courting trips I had made to Austin from Grand Rapids, Michigan. But, that was three years ago ... and in the dark of night when no one else was around.  It feels kinda strange that here I am today ... actually married off and living here in Austin. Hmmm, how life does evolve. But, now I digress.

It was a beautiful March day in central Texas ... 77 degrees and sunny. Just a bit of breeze. It was the kind of day one would classify as picture perfect. Without hesitation, I decided a day like this simply could not go to waste. Yes, it was the day to venture out and experience Hippie Hollow.

So, with the morning workout complete and a cooler full of ice, I hopped into my toasty car, pushed the button to slide open the moon roof and I was off. The tunes were pumping just right and I was feeling all buff and randy as I headed out to the Texas 'Hill Country'.

It's absolutely beautiful out in the Texas hills. Nothing really comes close to it up in Michigan, where I had lived the better portion of my life. Well, perhaps areas by Traverse City up in the Leelanau Peninsula somewhat resembled the hills here in Texas. But Texas was more rocky, rugged, and bared more greenery that looks like it can withstand the tests of the hot, 100-degree dog days of summer.

The Hill Country is densely populated with trees along steep hills and cliffs.  Multi-million dollar estates dot the tops of these hills. One imagines that people with the names of Biff, Tad and Muffy reside in these homes. Lake Travis, a segment of the Colorado River Chain held by a dam flows through a valley between these hills.

My destination was only 25 minutes west of home. Though, with the beautiful scenery, I wished the trip took longer. Just prior to the parks entrance, I pulled into a convenience store to make the selection of an adult beverage for the days consumption.

Some things about Texas I really like. Thank God one is allowed to enjoy some of life's simple pleasures at a public park, I thought as I climbed out of my car. That thought quickly gave way to the realization that I was already near naked as it was. After all, why don a lot of clothes when all your going do is shed them upon arrival at your destination? Bodaciously, I strolled into the store. As it turned out, the clerks must have had more than a few occasions of scantily clad people who were heading to Hippie Hollow come in the store. They didn't pay me any mind ... except for the young cashier who gave me a once-over and a subsequent wink.

Upon arrival at the park, I paid the five-dollar entrance fee and was dutifully reminded by the park ranger that no glass containers were allowed. I felt like I had mastered the art of preplanning as I had already read that fact on the Travis County Parks & Recreation website before departing and had made the choice of purchasing the Heineken in cans rather than the favored glass container.

I parked in a shaded area, closed the sun roof and cracked the windows as I looked around wondering exactly where I was suppose to go. I noticed a young couple exiting their car; the days needs bundled in their arms. I followed them down the not-so-well-marked path that ultimately led down to the lake.

Yep, this is definitely it, I thought as the path gave way to the openness of the park and the surroundings of at least a hundred people, 80% of which were all-natural and the rest just as well should have been. The lake was oddly shaped; causing the park to have many bends and curves.

I had heard that the gay portion of the park was at the far end of the park. So, I flipped my beach towel over my shoulder, gave a tug on the cooler to get a better grip and I was off.  As I walked along the shoreline, I was thinking the fact that gay people congregate anywhere was rather foreign for Austin. Gay people are so integrated into the society here that Austin doesn't even have a gay section of town like so many other cities do. Gay people are well, just ... everywhere!

This certainly was not the Michigan style of beach, containing billions of grains of sand. Rather, the 'beach' at Hippie Hollow displays ledges of rock where people pick their spots and spread out a blanket. Suddenly I wished I had brought more than one towel for extra cushion. Other than the difference in landscape and the fact that nearly everyone was naked, the people in the park didn't look any different from any beach in Michigan. [NEXT - TO PAGE 2]

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Copyright 2000 BRAD STEVENS all rights reserved worldwide
Austin, Texas