A Ride Around Mueller Airport

A giant steel spider at the greenway on the old Mueller airport site in Austin, Texas.

Where 747s once revved their engines preparing for a sprint down a too-short runway, giant spiders now roam. Or actually, one giant spider hovers over a granite gravel pathway that once was Austin Municipal (aka Mueller) Airport. Runways and terminals are no more. The area is now a greenway and housing development. Oddly, the blue and white checkerboard tower that reeks of 1960s “modernism” mixed in with a little art deco and dada, still stands, surrounded by no trespassing signs.

Air traffic control

Air traffic control at the old Mueller Airport in Austin.

Now that I’m back on the bike, I wanted to check out a new trail. So far, nothing beats the Veloway for beauty, speed, fun and proximity, but sometimes a girl needs a change. So, I strapped Blue onto Pearl and headed north in IH 35 to the neighborhood where my oldest son Brian Kennedy was born in the master bedroom of a duplex 31 years ago. Much, much, much has changed.

Now called Mueller Southwest Greenway, a pathway morphs randomly from gravel to pebbled concrete and weaves through displays of native plants, fountains, hydrated ponds, picnic tables, benches, geese and outdoor sculptures. It’s not a good place to bike for exercise, but it’s a great place to treat as an outdoor museum or contemplative space.

The best part of the whole experience was the neighborhood this greenway serves. I don’t know if it has a name, but it’s a beauty. Every house is different, but all cut from the same modern take on Frank Lloyd Wright. Exotic, unique, every one a jewel squeezed onto a tiny lot. Porches on every one, paved alleys for parking and trash cans. Decorations, yard ornaments, flower pots all from arts and crafts fairs. This neighborhood keeps Austin weird, funky and beautiful.

I had more fun circling the neighborhood streets (8 miles total!) than anything else, especially since about every 5th house had an Obama 2012 yard sign! VERY cool neighborhood! The only presidential election sign I’ve seen in my ‘hood was one for Rick Santorum AFTER the primaries were over. Go figure.

I would rate this ride an interesting jaunt, but not worth the trouble of getting there and back to put on my list of regular routes. If you live in the area, lucky you. I’d ride there every day.

© Suzanne Freeman 2012


About Suzanne Freeman

I have been back in Austin for two years now after a 20-year absence, first in Sacramento, California, then to New York City, where I spent the last 16 years. I miss The City and the friends I left in both places, but love, love, love being back in Austin with my family. Thanks, Steve for coming with me!
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