Thursday, April 17, 2014

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum – Downtown Austin

(Cedar Creek, TX) Hi 66 Lo 53 – It was overcast and threatened to rain all day today. But the rain held off for us as we drove to downtown Austin to see the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. It’s on the campus of the University of Texas. As we neared Austin we got our first glimpse of the city skyline.









A squadron of Air Force ROTC cadets were performing some drill and ceremony on the courtyard of the library.



I had a nice chat with a couple of the cadets, encouraging them and wishing them luck in their military careers after college. They were really nice, and very complimentary of my Air Force service. (They were so young!)

One of the things I want to do in our travels is see as many presidential libraries as I can. I’ve seen several already, and I was glad to get to check another one off the list. The LBJ Library and Museum is one of the better ones. It covers floors 3, 4, and 10 of a 10-story building on the south edge of the University of Texas campus. Floors 5 through 9 are the archives of the presidential papers and documents from LBJ’s White House years, and are not open to the public. There are many exhibits covering LBJ’s entire political career, with emphasis on the many legislative bills he enacted during his presidential term. He’s highly regarded for passing the Civil Rights Bill, along with Medicare and Medicaid. Not so popular was his handling of the Viet Nam war. The museum was pretty fair in covering both the good and bad of his presidency. Here are some photos we took inside the museum. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)

In the lobby is the limousine that LBJ bought. He used it for transportation around Austin after he left office.



Lots of stuff to read on the walls.


This is one of two walls that displayed portraits of every U.S. President and first lady.


Many displays had artifacts from the 60’s, which brought back a lot of memories for Dee and me. Here I’m watching the Beatles on TV.



Dee is checking out a display of the space program.


On display was one of LBJ’s cowboy hats (Resistol brand), along side one of only three remaining original stovepipe hats worn by President Lincoln. That was awesome to see!



From this atrium we could look up at the restricted floors through the windows, at the files containing LBJ’s presidential papers and documents.


On the top floor (Floor 10) was the oval office, complete with the actual furnishings from the LBJ years.



Next door was Lady Bird Johnson’s office. I’m not sure I’m fond of her choice of interior d├ęcor. Smile


Notice the papers on the floor below the desk? Lady Bird used the floor as her filing place for papers after she signed and completed them, to keep them separate from those that still required action.

Between the two offices was this display of Lady Bird’s evening dress, and a setting of the official White House china.



There is a window on the 10th floor that offered a beautiful view of the Darrel K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, home of the Texas Longhorns football team, with downtown Austin in the background.





While on the U. of Texas campus we saw the famous bell tower, where Charles Joseph Whitman, the famous bell tower sniper, shot and killed 16 people and wounded 32 others from the 28th floor in a shooting rampage on August 1, 1966.



After stopping for lunch at a Subway just off campus, we drove downtown to check out the Texas State Capitol building.



We then went across the Colorado River (not the Colorado River that goes through the Grand Canyon) to Butler Park, where we had a wonderful view of the city.






We happened to come across this statue of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, the famous singer/songwriter who called Austin home.



By this time it was nearing 3pm and we didn’t want to be stuck in rush hour traffic, so we headed back to the RV park. It was a fun day, but it’s too bad it was so cloudy and gray. Austin is a beautiful city, and pretty easy to get around in (especially with Google Maps for assistance).

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Movie Day - Texas BBQ

(Cedar Creek, TX) Hi 70 Lo 40 -- We left Dickinson, TX yesterday on a cold, windy morning with the temperature 42 degrees. We skirted the downtown area of Houston by taking one of the loops around it. It was smooth, but there was a lot of traffic.














The rest of the trip to the Austin, TX area was very uneventful. We love the gas and diesel prices along the Gulf coast. They’ve been around $3.29 for regular gas and $3.69 for diesel. Must be the proximity to all those refineries. :)

We arrived at Highway 71 RV Park in Cedar Creek, TX about 2:45, got set up and took a walk around the park. It’s an average-to-good quality gated park, very adequate for our four night stay.
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Our site
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We have a pull-through site. So far we've had a pull through site at every park since we left Florida.
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Not much to look at out our back window. The office and bath house.
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There's a pool.
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The rest of the park.
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Today we combined three things into one day. We've been wanting to see the movie "God is Not Dead," and we found out it's playing in the nearby town of Lockhart, which just happens to be the barbecue capital of Texas. So we headed out for a BBQ lunch and a movie. On the way just happens to be Circuit of the Americas, the new race track that was built a few years ago specifically to host the United States Grand Prix Formula 1 race. (Formula 1 is the premier racing series in the world, with each race held in a different country.) We were hoping we could get inside the track to take some photos, but it was closed due to some motorcycle testing going on. Jim took some photos of what we could see from the access road. It's a sprawling course over three miles long, with lots of hills. The red, white, and blue areas are the run-off areas along side the racing surface.
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This is the start/finish line area between the pit suites on the left, and the main grandstand on the right. (The paved area in the foreground is part of the parking lot.)
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Another view of the main grandstand at the start/finish area.
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It's a beautiful track, and Jim really wants to come back to see the U.S. Grand Prix Formula 1 race someday. It's held in November, so maybe we can combine it with a trip to Albuquerque, NM to see the balloon festival in October. Hmmm....

We proceeded on to Lockhart on TX Hwy 130, a lightly traveled toll road with a speed limit of 85 mph.
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There are four world famous barbecue restaurants in Lockhart, and we decided to try the oldest and most famous, Black's Barbecue.
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Inside it's decorated like a typical roadhouse/BBQ joint.
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Barbecue in Texas is primarily beef rather than pork. I had beef ribs, and Jim had beef brisket and sausage. We went along a cafeteria-style area to get our sides, and then had our meat cut for us at the cooking area. We're sorry to say we weren't impressed. :(  We always feel a little guilty when we don't enjoy a place that's supposed to be "the best." My ribs were a little dry, and tasted very average. Jim's brisket was very tender but had too much fat. (To be honest, he did have a choice of "lean" or "some fat" and he picked the latter.) His sausage tasted good but was a little greasy. Overall, we'll take good old Memphis or St. Louis style pulled pork barbecue over Texas beef any day. (Sorry Texans, but I'm sure you'll make it up to us when we go to Cattlemen's Steakhouse in El Paso in a week or so.)

After lunch we went a mile or so away to a small cinema and saw the movie "God's Not Dead."
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It was a thought-provoking Christian based movie, and we enjoyed it very much.

We came back to the RV on a different route, through the countryside. It was a beautiful 25-mile drive across mostly flat, green fields and forests, but with a few low rolling hills. And we saw a few small fields of Texas Blue Bonnets, the pretty blue wild flowers that are in season.

Tomorrow we're headed to downtown Austin. See you then.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rainy, Windy Day!

(Dickinson, TX) Hi 74 Lo 45 and still going down -- This is our last day in the Houston area. A cold front came through the area today and we've had off and on rain, and pretty high winds rocking us. We didn't go anywhere. I got some inside things ready for tomorrow's move, and Jim did the laundry at the park laundry room. Fortunately the most severe storms went north of us.

We’ve been worried about our satellite dish staying put in the wind. Jim has it held down with two gallon jugs of water (about 15 pounds of weight) suspended on a bungee cord, and also he put one of those spiral stakes in the ground under it, secured with another bungee cord. So far so good.
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Our park, Galveston Bay RV Resort and Marina, is great for anyone interested in birding. The doves talk to each other all day long, and we've heard many different song birds the whole time we've been here.

We watched some recorded shows on TV, and Jim worked on trip planning. We’re moving in the morning. We'll have a cold start to the day, but hopefully we’ll catch up to some warmer weather.

See you in two days.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Galveston Island – Grilling is the Best!

(Dickinson, TX) Hi  73 Lo 62 -- If you recall from yesterday's post, we bought some fresh seafood at nearby Seabrook. Last evening Jim got out our Weber Baby Q gas grill and brother Johnny showed us how he grills fish. He cooked up four huge Red Snapper fillets, while Jim "supervised".
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I made some sides of baked beans and mac & cheese, and cantaloupe for dessert. Boy did we have a great feast!
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Today Johnny came over and spent another day being our tour guide. We went to Galveston, which is about 22 miles south of us. It's amazing how many refineries there are in this area. They make the whole area very industrial looking, which takes away from what should be an attractive vacation spot.
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We had lunch at "Shrimp and Stuff," a highly rated seafood place that Jim found on the "Yelp" app on his smart phone. Then we drove all around Galveston Island. Here's a few photos of the area.
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In some areas you can drive right out on the beach (for a fee).
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It was a gray day, and threatening rain, and the Gulf was pretty choppy.
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This pier still shows damage from one of the many hurricanes that passed through this area.
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There were a lot of people swimming, even in the very rough water. We checked out a few RV parks on the island. They were nice, but too expensive for our budget.

After we saw enough of the island we went to Johnny’s for dinner. He shares an apartment in a very nice complex with two of his co-workers.







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There's a pond right below their second floor apartment, and Johnny fishes off the balcony.
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He cast out his line and within seconds he yanked a small fish right out of the water and over the small fence onto the grass. He ran down the stairs and released it back in the water.
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Johnny does all the cooking and the other two guys clean up. The guys had steaks and I had chicken, grilled on the balcony.
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Nice T-Bone steaks!
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My perfectly cooked chicken breast, along with seasoned vegetables and homemade french fries. Johnny is quite a cook!
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The food was delicious, and we all got very stuffed! We stayed and visited awhile, then we finally had to say goodbye to Johnny. He has to go back to work tomorrow, so this will be the last time we see him on this trip. It was so great spending the last few days with him, and we hated to leave. It's always wonderful to visit with family, but so hard to part again.

We got back to the RV just as darkness was falling. It’s still very windy. The wind hasn't stopped since we've been here. Surprisingly it wasn't very windy at all at the coast earlier today. Our park is in a cove that seems to funnel the wind. We may get some bad storms tomorrow. We'll hope for the best.

See you tomorrow (if we don't blow away).  :)