Outdoor Stereotypes

Unicycle Football at Eeyore's Birthday Party in Austin
Unicycle Football at Eeyore's Birthday Party in Austin Mark Stevens via Flickr
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Use this handy guide while enjoying Austin’s outdoor hot spots. Listed by common name, alphabetically, it will help you spot some of the area’s most common outdoor humans. Next time you’re in the ATX, see how many you can spot!

Charlie Llewellin via Flickr

Acro-Yogi – This unique pair-bond is a regular at Barton Springs , Zilker Park , and other places likely to host drum circlers and hippies (see below). A companion species to the common yoga practitioner, they like to perform their sensual, repressed mating ritual for all to see. They have an uncanny ability to make you compulsively practice handstands.

Birder – Central Texas is a major stop for many bird migration routes. More noticeable than the birds, however, are the flocks of northern tourists who have traveled here to geek out over feathers and songs. Their khaki cargo shorts, black knee-high compression socks, white Velcro-strap shoes, and wide-brimmed hats make them easy to spot. Be careful not to run over them, as they are quite myopic, with their eyes glued to their 50,000-millimeter camera lenses, and often stray onto highway shoulders while trying to witness the rare golden-cheek warbler or other birds.

Drum Circler, Dancer – She’s rediscovered her sacred feminine, along with her hedonistic side. Now she mixes belly dancing, hooping, and, what’s that? Capoeira? …Or did she just trip over herself and make it look like a half-cartwheel? We may never know. Either way, she’s a joy to observe while flailing her arms about, with her sequin sash glittering in the pre-dusk sunlight.

Drum Circler, Drummer – Most days (and nights) of the week, this guy is coding C++ at Dell, soldering resistor pins at National Instruments, or manning the IT line at one of the thousands of Austin’s tech startups, telling every caller the same solution, “Just reboot.” On weekends though, he’s stoned out of his mind, sitting under the big tree near the south lawn of Barton Springs with 50 others from his tribe, letting his soul speak through his pounding hands.


Ala via Flickr

Eeyoreian - Any regular attendee at the legendary Eeyore's Birthday Party at Pease Park is pretty easy to spot, but difficult to categorize here. Because most of the humans on this list end up, at some time or another, donning their favorite costume (including near-birthday suits) and joining the massive hundreds-strong drum circle or just wandering around. You know them when you see them. But catch them before they escape too far into a psychedelic wormhole.

Highker – They like taking walks along the creekside while high, and saying, “Woah!” a lot. Yep, pretty simple. Notoriously slow and easy to catch.

Hippie – In Austin, they’re often the real deal, nature lover, leftover from 1969. And haven’t bathed since then either – even though they are now some of the wealthiest, most-connected individuals in town.

“Hippie” – Trustafarian. Dreadlocked pasta. Spent the day in Whole Foods and the Mac store, drove their Benz to a nondescript south Austin parking lot, then stood on the corner with a cardboard sign, “One Love, One Jah. Share the Wealth, Brah!” When pressed, they simply reply that being outside on the street is less boring than say, college.

Sushicircus via Flickr

Landlocked Surfer – With so many transplants from California, Austin is home to a lot of these frustrated individuals, and to one of the Gulf’s most active Surfrider Foundation chapters. They chatter on about the obvious, “Gulf waves ain’t nothin’ like the Pacific, bro.” You will spot them crowding Lady Bird Lake on their SUPs, griping about all the rowers dropping in on them.

Lost Frat Boy – University of Texas fraternity hazing sometimes has leftovers. The guys usually don’t step outdoors unless they’re on the way to a party, but sometimes you’ll catch a glimpse of one who just woke up in Zilker park from the night before, naked except for strategically placed duct tape, trying to figure out where he is.

Master Naturalist – Often seen collecting trash out of rivers or counting fish with the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, these pseudo-biologists like to know everything about every living thing, and like to give the history behind Latin names in random situations. While in the beer line at an outdoor bar, for instance, they might suddenly babble, “The bluebonnet is in the genus Lupinus, derived from the root word for ‘wolf.’” After a short pause to check for anyone listening, their uninvited commentary continues, “Because it once was considered a pest weed, a nutrient thief.” But to appear humble when complimented on their supposed knowledge, they usually say, “Thanks, but after reading Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Wendell Berry, I now realize how little I know.”

Outdoors Writer – You can keep imagining this freelancer is always hiking with his surfboard to some remote destination. But most of the time he’s really just sitting at home alone, trying to motivate himself to get at least one thing accomplished each day, even if it’s finally making breakfast at 2pm. Then he’ll go to the corner store just to talk to someone, anyone, and more than once has to check to make sure he actually put pants on today.

Squint-Eyed Graphic Designer – With perhaps the second most common job in Austin after tech sales or support, freelance graphic designers spend a lot of time under fluorescent lights, but they love the inspiration nature gives them. They just don’t get out enough. The sun hurts them, but feeds their starving soul. Take it easy on these pale creatures.

Tri-Everything – She’s often wearing a sleeveless neoprene wettie, even at the store, because it has become her second skin. Always has a faded marker number on her shoulder. Run, cycle, swim, volleyball in-between, and Krav Maga just for fun. She doesn’t need sleep. She is a mutant.

Jarrett Campbell via Flickr

Überpsycler – Whether on the road or on the trail, you’ll catch only rear-view glimpses of them, but they are everywhere . Even if they’re stopped, your pictures of them will have motion blur. So you may not be able to tell, but they’re riding $8,000 carbon-fiber custom model bikes; decked out in custom Mellow Johnny’s gear (three-quarter zip Italian jersey preferred); riding in small elite groups; communicating telepathically; and hauling ass. All you need to know about them is, “Get out of the way!” And yes, that was probably Lance Armstrong.

Überrunner – The upright relative of the überpsycler, and only slightly slower. Just slow enough that you can catch the outlines of their perfect bodies, which compel you to observe your lack of motivation and weep instantly at the sight of your muffin top.

Kinky Friedman
Kinky Friedman Steve Terrell via Flickr

Urban Cowboy - As eclectic and cosmopolitan as Austin is, you are still in Texas, and there are real cowboys here. Some of them are high-ranking politicians, musicians, lawyers, doctors, big-time ranchers, or even hippies, but at heart, they are still cowboys. They have lots of land, livestock, and guns.

Wandering Dad – This is the lost frat boy who wandered too far without protection. Currently in tech sales, he’s taking the slowest outdoor walk possible while contemplating a switch to graphic design.

Wandering Mom – She just wants 30 minutes of sunlight, peace and quiet, while her twin toddlers are napping. “Just let me be outside, anywhere, please,” she begs. “Just leave me alone with my earbuds blasting ‘Where the Streets Have No Name.’”


Xtreme Sportster – Especially with the recent X Games in Austin, “action sports” increasingly influence much of outdoor life in Central Texas. The species is dominated by suburban young people who spend all their earnings on shiny gear – boats, bikes, boards, or bongs. When trying to be social with them, they may appear snobby, but it’s really because they’re either too “in the zone” to communicate interpersonally, or too hungover from their sponsorship party last night.

Are you an Austinite who knows more outdoor stereotype species? Let everyone know what they are and how to spot them! Post the link to this article and add your comment.

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