Trip Start Oct 11, 2010
89Trip End May 17, 2011
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Where I stayed
Austin Lone Star RV Resort
We headed out of town on Texas Highway 290. It wasn't long before we reached the turnoff to Luckenbach (pop. 3) and its famous dance hall. Adios, Luckenbach! After a short time we reached the hamlet of Stonewall. Just east of town is LBJ State Park and the LBJ Ranch. We have to see them!
The state park is nice with lots of oak trees and grass. It has walking trails and picnic areas. The pioneer museum is a focal point as well as the Saur Beckmann Living History Farm. We drove by the living history farm and decided to forgo the museum in favor of visiting the LBJ Ranch.
The state park and ranch, officially known as Lyndon B. Johnson Historic Park, are huge at 717 acres, 440 acres of which was given to the National Park Service to preserve for the ages. The Johnson family retained over 2000 acres. Just outside the gate is the one room Junction School that LBJ attended at the age of 4. Passing the entrance gate one comes to the home where LBJ was born and the family cemetery where he and Lady Bird are buried.
A very scenic road takes you towards the ranch house. It parallels the Pedernales River (pronounced Perdenalis by Texans) while winding in and out of a grove of large oak trees before it leads into the pastures. Hereford cows lie along side the one lane road. They don't seem to mind 51' of truck/trailer combination passing them by. One little calf was curious and followed us for a short time. He was a cute little feller!
After a long drive through the pastures and by barns, show stables and ranch hand residences the road loops back to the main house, an impressive 8,000 square foot 2 story structure. LBJ's jet airplane is displayed outside the hangar that is not more than 100 yards from the house. The hangar now serves as the visitor center. A $2 per person fee is requested for a tour of the interior of the house
A little history is in order here. The ranch was handed down from generation to generation. In the 1950's his aunt owned the house and property but she could no longer maintain it properly and the house fell in to disrepair. LBJ offered to take it over and his offer was accepted. When Lady Bird came to look at the place she was not impressed. She referred to it as "that God awful place." But over time the house was made habitable and became the Johnsons pride and joy.
I was disappointed to learn that no photography is allowed inside. The first room we enter served as LBJ's office. Inside is his desk, a secretary's desk, and some overstuffed furniture and parade saddle given to him by a Mexican President. On a bookshelf behind his desk is a thick bundle of freshly minted one dollar bills with his image where Washington's should be. They were legally printed by the U.S. mint but could not be put into circulation. To ensure they would not be used they were encased in plastic and presented to our 36th President.
LBJ was an egotistic politician who wasn't afraid to literally collar a fellow colleague, stand nose to nose with him, as much as his 6'4" frame allowed, in order to "persuade" that person into seeing things his way
We then pass through living areas that have period furniture and where memorabilia are hung on the walls. The dining room isn't much different than one would expect- some exceptional keepsakes that only a President of the United States would possess. At the head of the 10 place table was LBJ's chair. All other chairs were wooden. Their seat cushions were tastefully embroidered with Lady Birds favorite flowers. LBJ's chair, on the other hand, was a high backed leather office chair on rollers. Mounted on his left and under the table top was a telephone. Much to Lady Bird's chagrin he would loudly and boisterously B.S. with his buddies during the evening meal. Needless to say, she had no kind words for that chair. Oh yes, placed in front of LBJ's place setting was a large bottle of Sacryl, a period non sugar sweetener.
The kitchen is an odd shape, sort of a block "S". Next is the living room, then LBJ's library. Not many books on these shelves. As a matter of fact a very close friend of Johnson's once stated that he never saw him read a one of them. LBJ's bedroom is adjacent to the library but is off limits due to restoration
We leave the ranch and head towards Austin. More oaks, more hills. Johnson City has 1191 souls and is not a destination. More pretty rolling hill country and we reach Austin.
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Stop and go traffic, and we haven't reached the interstate. I-35 and the highway 290 interchange are experiencing some major construction and major closures. Highway 290 converts from a four lane highway to a six lane freeway. Curiously, no one is on the freeway. HMMMMMMmmmm. They are opting to take surface streets. Hmmmmm. Now we know why. When we reach I-35 South, the transition is closed and southbound traffic is routed to surfaces streets. We survive the detour, get on to I-35 south for 6 miles and pull into our home for 2 nights- the Austin Lone Star RV Resort.
Tomorrow we will visit the state capital after attending Mass at St. Mary Cathedral. We also wish to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Have a great life. We do!