Hi all, Dianne here. Imagine yourself as a world leader back in the 1960s, in one of the chairs in the photo above, having serious discussions under the huge, shady tree overlooking the Pedernales River in the hill country of Texas. After visiting the LBJ Ranch, I understand now why President Lyndon Johnson spent every minute possible conducting business there rather than in Washington, D.C. Roger and I were able to stand under that same tree on our recent visit and tour of the ranch, and it was so inviting and beautiful I could have stayed there all day. The photo above was scanned from a document given to us during the tour, because I wasn't able to get a good outside photo of the ranch with my little camera.
As we walked up to the visitor's center (a building where LBJ used to conduct press conferences), our first view was of his private plane which he jokingly referred to as "Air Force 1/2".
Inside, LBJ's presidential podium is still there, just as it was during the 1960s press conferences. Roger posed behind it, showing just how much taller LBJ was than Roger!!
We could also see his car collection. There was his 1934 red Ford hunting car, which he had personalized with rifle racks and a full wet bar.
Then there was his 1962 German amphicar, which he would amaze and/or terrorize his guests by driving into the Pedernales River (see photo placard below).
The original gateway to the ranch actually required fording the river to get to the ranch house.
Roger and I have noticed that Texas doesn't bother with bridges on its rural roads; they simply give flood gauge measurements so you'll know how deep the water is before you drive through it. No wonder there are so many high-clearance pickup trucks here!
No photography was allowed inside the home, but now that Lady Bird is no longer alive, they are returning it to its 1960s decor. That was a trip down memory lane for Roger and I; it reminded him a lot of his parents' home back in the day. LBJ's and Lady Bird's personal belongings are still in the home, including all of their clothing and shoes displayed in "his" and "hers" expansive closets. Speaking of Him and Her, there are original oil paintings of his two beagles (named Him and Her) on a wall. LBJ loved his dogs.
In several of the rooms we saw sets of three identical TVs mounted together so that LBJ could
watch all three networks at once. There were multiple telephones in every room, one even mounted on the table leg next to his dining room chair.
One poignant display showed a pecan pie warming on the kitchen stove. Jackie Kennedy had never tasted pecan pie before, so Lady Bird had prepared one for her impending first visit to the ranch. They never made it there; President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on that Texas trip before they arrived at the LBJ ranch.
We toured LBJ's show barn where they still tend the descendants of his registered Hereford cattle. There we met this little guy.
For my cousin Charles, here's the cattle diet.
We drove through herds of cattle as we made our way up to the house.
Before we toured the inside of the ranch, we also took an audio tour via a CD loaned to visitors at the national historical park.
Here are some highlights of that tour, with captions:
|One-Room School where LBJ learned to read|
|LBJ's & Lady Bird's Graves|
Here's one more stop on our Johnson state park and historical site tour:
This section of Texas was settled by German immigrants. One of the displays at the visitor's center was the Behrens dog-trot style cabin.
The above photo was taken through the glass of one side of the dog-trot cabin. It makes our motor home and our little 288-square-foot coach house look roomy by comparison, and there are only two of us! And, if you think about it, we have our own little "dog-trot" setup at Retama:
The tiny coach house (dining and kitchen/laundry/shower), the open area, then the adjoining motor home (TV and bedroom). The display placard explained that a lot of the family work and living was done outdoors, which also is how we live at Retama.
On our last evening in the Hill Country, we decided to visit the Old Tunnel State Park 10 miles outside of town to see the bats emerge at dusk. We visited the old tunnel on a previous visit, but it was the wrong time of year to witness the bats. This time we were at the right place at the right time. We had an early supper and drove over to the viewing area. Right at 7:20 the bats emerged, and we watched for 15 minutes as millions of them swarmed out of the tunnel below us.
The lighting was not good for photography (it was getting dark, after all), but you can kind of make out the swirling tornado of Mexican free-tail bats as they emerged from the tunnel below our seating area.
We could hear their wings fluttering and smell the guano when they were at their peak. Amazing!
The movie I took with my camera came out better than the photo, and as a bonus, in the background you can hear the park ranger giving a brief narrative explanation of the bats.
I'll end with a few more animal photos. Our site at the Fredericksburg KOA was right next to a pasture with a horse and three pygmy donkeys. I finally was able to get a good photo of the donkeys.
This little guy was not shy at all.
Roger said good-bye to the horse.
I'll even miss being serenaded by the guinea hen!
This is one KOA that we plan to revisit, and hopefully we'll get site L-5 again.
We packed up and headed south, making a two-night stop at Choke Canyon State Park. We have a lovely view of the reservoir from our site (site 131).
So far, we've seen deer, wild turkeys, and, on my wildlife cam, raccoons.
We took the dogs down the mowed path to a little beach on the reservoir and let them run loose and chase balls in the lake. Unfortunately, we discovered Bandido's favorite blue whistle ball doesn't float, so one of my first errands when we get back to Mission will be to get a replacement. He had a lot of fun swimming and chasing a tennis ball in the water. Tequila ran along the sandy shore, trying to grab it from him. We had the great idea to spend today swimming and floating in the reservoir with the dogs -- that is, until this morning when I googled this reservoir and discovered there are 18-foot ALLIGATORS here! Sorry, doggies, it's just not worth the risk. (Too bad, though, the water temp. was perfect).
After spending much of late summer in the Colorado mountains, Roger and I are trying to re-acclimate to 90-degree heat (without much success).
Last night the sky showed evidence of a rainstorm in the distance, and a stunning sunset:
The pet photo of the day shows Bandido in one of his quieter moments, taking an afternoon snooze on the cover sheet on our bed:
|Sweet Dreams, Cuddly Boy!|
It's been a great spring/summer trip, but after five months on the road, tomorrow it's time to go home. We'll update again from Retama, but not as often, unless there's something novel to report on!