Austin Naturist Blog
One of the more unique ventures to be found in Austin is a travel agency that specializes in booking travel for nudists. Many of you may recognize the name Bare Necessities. Some of you have probably, at some point, indulged in a little public nudity whilst on vacation in Jamaica or Playa del Carmen, and many of you may have booked a cabin on a cruise ship with several ports of call.
Bare Necessities lets you do both of those things together. They specialize in cruises where the intent is for you to be able to enjoy your time aboard the ship nude. You can leave most of your clothes behind, with the exception of a few things to wear at ports of call or at some of the more formal events on-board.
There are several companies that specialize in booking nude travel, but Bare Necessities specializes in nude cruises, and because of the popularity of the cruises, they have placed nude travel very high on the radar of the vacation travel industry. To book a cabin on one their cruises will have to get in line. Though the cruise ships can accommodate well over 1000 passengers, you will have to reserve your cabins at least 2 years in advance!
For a glimpse of one writer’s experiences on a nude cruise, you may wish to read author Mark Haskell Smith’s recent article in The Independent.
Today marks the beginning of the observance of a week of celebrating one of our cherished freedoms by… yes, getting naked in the great outdoors with your friends / families. The week has become known as Nude Recreation Week, and is celebrated each year by naturists and nudists throughout North America during the first full week that follows the 4th of July.
Those of us who are frequent “nudies” tend to take things for granted because their favorite resorts or swimming holes are always there when they want to partake. However, it is a good idea to remember that even though we currently enjoy the freedom to be nude among friends in many locations, it wasn’t always so. It is also worth remembering that many areas of the U.S. still place severe restrictions on public nudity; some jurisdictions have even placed restrictions on the mere promotion of it!
Nude Recreation Week is the opportunity to both celebrate the freedoms we do have, and for us to share information about nudism / naturism with the public. Keeping the freedoms we currently enjoy is not a slam-dunk situation… the more aware the public is about nudism and naturism, the more likely we can continue to enjoy these freedoms. Just sayin’!
Star Ranch, a nudist resort located near McDade, TX, is celebrating Nude Recreation Week and will be active participants in this year’s attempt to beat the 2010 World Skinny-Dip Record. If you are interested in participating, please contact Star Ranch for more information. You can find their contact info via their web site.
During the SXSW 2013 event, one of Austin’s famed pedicab drivers, who happened to be female, was working up a sweat while pedaling people around the downtown area. She noticed that her male counterparts who, getting a similar workout on their pedicabs, had decided to remove their shirts to help cool down a bit.
The lady decided what was good for the boys is good for the girls, and promptly removed her shirt as well. While most native Austinites have at least heard about the laws protecting women’s right to bare their tops anywhere men are permitted some of those from out-of-town were a bit surprised since semi-nudity in public isn’t something they’ve been accustomed to.
While many of the comments in the posts above are more inspired by the novelty of the event, some of them question her motives since she knew she would be getting a lot of attention, despite the fact she was just sweaty and needed to cool off.
The fact is though, it doesn’t matter (and shouldn’t matter) what her motives were, just as it doesn’t really matter why a male might want to go shirtless.
Indeed, despite the clamoring for photos on nearby camera-phones (and postings on Reddit) ladies being spotted going top-free around Austin is nothing new and is one of the many unique aspects of the town.
According to the “Bowery Boogie“, GoTopless.org, an organization that promotes top-freedom for women, has announced “Go Topless Day“, an event scheduled for August 26th, 2012, and taking place in NYC. The event underscores the fact that, in NY State, women enjoy the same rights of top-freedom that men enjoy.
It also happens to be the same day (rightfully so) as Women’s Equality Day, which will primarily be celebrated in Washington, DC.
I bring this up because, within the City of Austin, women enjoy very similar rights of top-freedom and that it stands to reason that the women of Austin should also celebrate this event in solidarity with the women of NY State. Perhaps it is time to consider an annual event to be held at Barton Springs.
Early naturists (or nudists—I use the European- and North American preferred terms interchangeably), especially of the German-Swiss Freikörperkultur (FKK, or free body culture) variety, stressed maintaining fit bodies. Their early magazines highlighted that emphasis all the way from the beginnings over a century ago until the early 50s. For many or most of our predecessors in nude living, caring for, and baring of, figures and physiques constituted a serious lifestyle choice and not merely “recreation” (in its modern meaning more closely associated with leisure than an extreme makeover). Even today, some traces of that emphasis on keeping in shape linger on in such names as the Healthy Hides of Houston and the Sahnoans (allegedly meaning “the healthy ones” in some native tribal language) of Star Ranch at McDade.
So, what happened? Simple explanation: we nudists are still very much influenced by our larger society, so, as a whole, we gradually descended into less fitness and excessive weight along with the rest of our peers. That trend has been so well documented that many in the medical and related professions have declared the downward trend in fitness and weight control to be a national epidemic. That’s true not only among adults but also among teens and pre-teens. If physical education in schools was generally a joke in the 1950s when I was a student, it’s even less effective in today’s secondary educational system.
When clothes are removed, partially or totally, the results of lack of fitness become even more obvious. All of us know this, but we, as a polite society, very seldom speak of the “elephant in the room” (pun generally not intended) for fear of offending folks in our valued circle of friends. So, what are some polite ways to broach this important topic?
By personal observation and experience, fitness advocates have been less than effective, either as living examples or via spoken or written words, in encouraging people in their social and professional circles to shape up for both their health and their good looks. Even my example of fitness for most of my long adulthood has had little effect on most of those with whom I regularly come in contact. (Granted, my fitness and weight aren’t top-of-the-line examples, either!)
So, that’s what blogs are for: to toss ideas around and see if there are better solutions out there that haven’t yet been put into full effect. So, as in the title, how do we encourage our minority group of friendly nudists to stop following the lead of society in general and, unstead, to start showing leadership ourselves. Naturists/nudists at the cutting edge of a new fitness revolution? More “impossible” things than that have happened. So what are some of your ideas for becoming “biggest losers” in the area of weight loss and “winsome gainers” in strength and endurance? Inquiring minds want to know.
Steve B. submitted this item, which was an article he wrote a couple of years ago. Comments are welcome.
The rain is pouring down outside and I have a smile on my face, because I know that this much rain will get Barton Creek flowing again. It’s been about four months since the last swim of a great season of swims and hikes we had along upper Barton Creek in Austin, TX. We are fortunate indeed to live in a city where not only are there many parks and greenbelts, but top free is legal for women anywhere in the city and skinny dipping has a long and continuous tradition on the upper reaches of Barton Creek greenbelt within the city limits. Barton Creek is the drainage that flows through Barton Springs, the jewel of Austin in Zilker Park, not far from downtown. Upstream from Barton Springs, the greenbelt trail follows the creek upstream and southwest for approximately seven miles before ending at private land. The main trail follows the north side of the creek along the upper reaches of the park, but the trail may cross the creek several times if you start from Barton Springs. There are several access points along the creek, but even these are one to two miles apart. When water is flowing in the creek, deep pools that are perfect for skinny dipping form behind small cataracts in the creek. Often these pools are a mile or more from the nearest access point and require a thoughtful hike in, limiting the intolerant types and effectively eliminating gawkers.
Picture a limestone cataract in the creek, 75 to 100 feet across, with one to three foot deep channels worn down through the rock from the water’s frequent passage. The surface of the rock has been smoothed over to give the tops of the rock an appearance like molded clay. Hence the name of the falls, Sculptured Falls. The smoothed tops of the rock usually are above the water line and provide a place for sitting and sunning. On the far south side of the creek, a larger slopping area of smooth rock provides a place for a group to gather and spread out towels. A harder, bumpy outcrop of rock also on the south side of the creek forms a 6 foot high ledge that folks can dive off into the 10 foot deep pool. The area over your head varies in size with the season, but when the water is flowing it covers about 50 feet wide by 200 feet long. Water will remain in this pool (smaller in size) all year fed by a small hillside spring, but flow over the falls stops if occasional rains do not continue to feed run off into the creek. The rains usually come in early Spring and may keep the flow going for a few months into early Summer. During the blistering Texas Summers the creek usually dries up and may remain so until the rains come again in the Fall with the cold fronts from the north. Swimming is possible sometimes well into December if the north winds remain intermittent. As the winter progresses, water temperatures and average air temperatures are too low for a casual swim and splash in the creek. Dedicated swimmers can be found year around however, downstream at Barton Springs, where the water temperature remains at a constant 68 degrees all year!
Hill Country Nudists have planned hikes and swims into Sculptured Falls every year for many years. Before HCN, the Naked Freedom Boosters of the old Manor Apartments back in the 70’s and early 80’s kept the traditional nude use going at the creek. I’m sure it was used nude decades ago, long before there was a greenbelt under city jurisdiction. Now the city manages the greenbelt as part of the Austin Public Park system and as such can police the area for park violations. Top free is legal anywhere in Austin and well accepted along the creek and at Barton Springs itself. Nudity, although not legal, is tolerated if discrete.
Sculptured falls is about as isolated as any location along Barton Creek. It is a one mile hike from the nearest access point on Scottish Woods Trail, in Westlake Hills subdivision (with very little parking) and a mile and a half from the more popular Gaines trail head access point at highway 360 and Loop 1 where there is plenty of parking along the turn around loop. Our nude swims have not been an issue or reason for complaint in recent memory. Generally, if we set up for our swim by about ten in the morning, it sets the tone for the day. Hikers that show up later have the choice of staying or moving on to another location along the creek. It’s been interesting to watch the reaction of some folks that have made the one mile plus hike into Sculptured Falls and find that we are already using the swimming hole nude. Often there is a slight hesitation and quick conference between hiking partners, but they usually stay, occasionally joining us for a nude swim. This spot is unquestionably the nicest spot on the creek, and folks are reluctant to take a lesser spot when they have already hiked in that far.
Hill Country Nudist have always acted as stewards of the upper Barton Creek Area, sponsoring club cleanups of the area starting in the early 90’s. An article in the local paper documenting how much trash was hauled out of the creek area by HCN may have embarrassed the city into cleaning up the heavily used falls areas on a more regular basis. We always encourage members to pack out what they pack in and pick up trash from thoughtless creek users as well. Hill Country Nudists intends to maintain the skinny dipping tradition on the upper reaches of Barton Creek.
Many of us have had great life experiences that we consider worth sharing and so we’re providing this blog page as a space for that sort of thing. Currently, submissions are limited to HCN members only.