Belting It Out along the boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake


I’ve walked the hike-and-bike trail around Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin many times. But on Saturday, for the first time, I walked the relatively new boardwalk portion of the trail (completed in 2014), which starts east of the Congress Avenue Bridge and ends at International Shores Park on South Lakeshore Boulevard, just east of I-35.

My daughter joined me, and we only intended to explore a little way. But the morning was as soft as a cloud, and the temperature pleasantly cool, so we kept going all the way to the 1st Street Bridge. Along the way we stopped to watch herons, turtles, and ducks galore, as well as rowing crews skimming across the water.


It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed the relative quiet of this end of the trail, as well as the new perspective on downtown Austin.


All along the boardwalk, lifelike sculptures of tooled leather, western-style belts are attached to the steel handrails, each engraved with a lyric from a country song. I got caught up in discovering each one and trying to remember how each song goes and who sang it. As I later learned, there are 36 cast-bronze belts, which make up a public art project commissioned by the City of Austin called Belting It Out. Artist Ken Little created them, using lyrics from songs by well-known Texas singers and songwriters.

Here are my favorites I spotted along the way, starting with (of course) a Willie Nelson hit. Pictured above: Pancho was a bandit, boys, from “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard made it a hit.


The road goes on forever and the party never ends, from “The Road Goes on Forever,” Robert Earl Keen


In dreams I walk with you, from “In Dreams,” Roy Orbison


My love is bigger than a Cadillac, from “Not Fade Away,” Buddy Holly


Blue light was my baby, red light was my mind, from “Love in Vain,” Robert Johnson


Me upon my pony on my boat, from “If I Had a Boat,” Lyle Lovett


I wanna go home with the armadillo, from “London Homesick Blues,” Gary P Nunn


Hey Baby, que paso?, from “(Hey Baby) Que Paso,” The Texas Tornados


Gonna get me a mojo hand, from “Mojo Hand,” Lightnin’ Hopkins


Crazy for cryin’, crazy for trying’, from “Crazy,” Willie Nelson. Also a Patsy Cline hit.


La ti da!!, from “La Ti Da,” Marcia Ball


Como la flor con tanto amor, from “Como La Flor,” Selena


Too old to die young, from “Till’ I’m Too Old To Die Young,” Moe Bandy


Amarillo by morning, from “Amarillo by Morning,” George Strait


Alla en el rancho grande, from “Alla En El Rancho Grande,” traditional


Wind me up! Watch me go!, from “Wind Me Up,” Terri Hendrix


Take the ribbon from your hair, from “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” Kris Kristofferson


She needs wide open spaces, from “Wide Open Spaces,” Dixie Chicks


Here’s my own Dixie chick enjoying the wide open spaces of Lady Bird Lake. You will too. Go walk it.

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Upcoming Events and News

My new book, The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water, comes out tomorrow! Click the link for more info and, if you like, to order online from the retailer of your choice. Check back next Monday for a book-release blog party with lots of giveaways of water-saving gardening items!

Join me for my kick-off garden talk this Saturday, February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have signed books available for purchase ($20 each, includes tax) and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

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All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

10 Responses

  1. Shirley says:

    Discovery makes a walk so much more fun! Some good stuff there, songs that helped cure my own homesick blues when we lived so far away from Texas all those years. “Hey baby, que paso” is practically an anthem in San Antonio.

  2. Evan says:

    This reminds me a bit of Capitol Lake in Olympia. There’s a trail around it, with urban and more wild areas. It’s a nice walk, but no song lyrics, that I know of.

    I’m looking forward to your new book! I may not comment frequently, but your garden has provided a large part of the inspiration for an area in my own garden that I’m hoping to really start working on this year.

  3. What a unique way to inspire one to walk the entire circuit.

  4. Renee says:

    How fun with all the lyrics! And the views are great too. Looks like you’ve discovered a lovely treasure.

  5. Nell says:

    Surely there’s a belt for Ernest Tubb? Don’t know if you watch any TV, but this week’s ‘Better Call Saul’ opened with a wonderful TX visual and ‘Waltz Across Texas’. Worth catching on re-run.

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