[Editor’s note: The contest to guess the completion date of our Asheville house is now closed. Whatever happened to American optimism? Even Ed, the eternal pessimist, thinks we will be in our house by the end of August but most of the contest entries predict a fall completion--four people picked November dates. Because we can’t guarantee that we will survive that long in our Airstream, please note that the contest will be void if we never make it to Asheville.]
Last week we started our Spring swing through Texas, beginning in Austin. Austin is a great little city—the state capitol, home of the University of Texas, and one of the live music centers of the U.S. with an eclectic mixture of restaurants, bars and night clubs. One of Austin’s slogans is “Keep Austin Weird” and, as far as we can tell, they have been very successful.
We visited our friends, Tom and Judy, who we know from our three years living in Puerto Rico. We had a great dinner (we owe them one in Asheville) and enjoyed catching up. We all agreed that we won’t allow another 14 years to go by before we get together again.
We also visited the LBJ presidential library which was both interesting and entertaining. (For our younger readers, LBJ stands for Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the U.S.) While LBJ usually brings back memories of the Vietnam War and a turbulent time in our country, there was much more to his presidency and he is one of the more interesting political figures in our history.
[Editor’s notes: For “Breaking Bad” fans, Bryan Cranston is now starring as LBJ in a new play on Broadway. For history buffs, Ed recommends the four LBJ biographies by Robert Caro.]
We previously mentioned that our kayaks have been on the roof of our car since last June. This is not quite true—we sometimes remove our kayaks when we visit cities because: 1) kayaking is popular in the big city and someone may decide they like our kayaks too much, and 2) most parking garages do not accommodate cars with kayaks. In Austin, we decided to leave our kayaks at our campsite but not our kayak racks with the following consequences.
Left: We removed our kayaks but left the racks that stick up about a foot above our car roof.
Middle: The entrance to the parking garage indicated 8’-2” clearance—no problem so we pulled in.
Right: After driving into the garage, we found another barrier with only 6’-11” clearance—a problem. Ed had to jump out of the car and remove the racks to avoid getting stuck in the garage. Shouldn’t they warn you that the clearance will be less before you get into the garage?
Here are some additional photos of our visit to Austin.
The Texas State Capitol—as Texans like to point out, it is taller than the U.S. Capitol.
The Capitol rotunda of the Lone Star State includes portraits and statues of many of Texas’s heroes, including Sam Houston. Houston is the only person to be the Governor of two states, Tennessee and Texas, and he was also a U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator and the President of the Republic of Texas. Along the way he was the commander of the ragtag Texas Army that defeated Santa Anna and won independence for Texas from Mexico. On the other hand, he was allegedly an alcoholic (he lived with the Cherokee Indians for some time and was known by them as the “big drunk”) and was convicted of beating a Congressman with his hickory cane on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. (and you thought current politics were rough).
There are many monuments and statues on the Texas Capitol grounds but Ed could not pass up taking a photo of this one. It is a plaque commemorating a monument that was constructed in 1976 and removed in 1996. If this plaque has to be removed in the future will they install a new plaque commemorating the old plaque that commemorated the monument? Where does this madness end?
Patty next to the Stevie Ray Vaughn memorial across the Colorado River from Austin—we are fans of blues music (probably the number one choice for those of us living in a trailer) and he was one of the greatest blues guitarists.
We wanted to hear some live blues so we went to the Continental Club where Stevie Ray Vaughn played many times. Ed got into the spirit by having a couple of Lone Stars (embarrassingly, Patty drank Blue Moon). We saw the Peterson Brothers from Bastrop, TX, ages seventeen and fifteen, who were great. We wish them luck but it is tough making a living playing the blues.
Lower McKinney Falls on Onion Creek—we stayed at McKinney Falls State Park, south of Austin. Central Texas has been experiencing a drought so the falls were not very impressive but we understand that, after it rains, people have been swept down the river due to flash flooding.
Wildflowers in McKinney Falls State Park—in the bottom left photo are Texas Bluebonnets, the state flower. They are everywhere in Texas.
Leaving Austin, we headed west to Pedernales Falls State Park and entered the hill country of central Texas. Once you enter the hill country, it is clear that you are now in the West with scenic vistas that remind you of every Western movie you have ever seen.
We visited the LBJ ranch near Johnson City, a national historic site, which is definitely worth a visit. However, our primary reason for visiting this part of Texas was to attend the wedding of the son of our Gainesville friends, Rick and Kristin, in Fredericksburg, TX. The rehearsal dinner and wedding were both great, but the most exciting aspect of the weekend was two nights in a Holiday Inn Express. Living in a trailer for nine months definitely affects your perspective—a room four times the size of our Airstream, two queen-size beds, and a washer and dryer right down the hall, made us feel like millionaires. Congratulations to the newlyweds, Henry and Jillie, and best of luck in the future.
Have you ever wondered why Mexican and Tex-Mex bands play waltzes and polkas and, inevitably, include an accordion player? It is because many Germans immigrated to south central Texas and Mexico in the 1800’s and brought their music with them. Fredericksburg is one those original German settlements and it is a popular tourist area, surrounded by wineries. Here are some photos from our visit.
A statue in Fredericksburg commemorating the treaty between the original German settlers and the Comanche Nation–it is the only known peace treaty with Native Americans in U.S. history thought never to have been broken.
Enchanted Rock north of Fredericksburg—it’s a large outcropping of red granite. Where else in this blog have you seen red granite? If you answered the Capitol building, you are correct.
Turkey Peak as seen from Enchanted Rock
View of Little Rock from Enchanted Rock—note the slabs of rock that have slid down the mountain, exposing the granite beneath.
View from the top of Enchanted Rock—this week’s tribute by Ed to Ansel Adams.
Patty begins her descent.
Ed among the rocks
Patty posting her photos of Enchanted Rock on Facebook—you can’t have a wilderness adventure without letting everybody else know about it.
Patty hiking among the Bluebonnets
“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” –Henry David Thoreau