Friday, November 7, 2014

Canyon Lake --- Fun with Chuck and Cindy (part four)

Roger here...  On Thursday we drove north for an hour to catch a 10:30 a.m. all-day double decker bus tour in Austin.  We parked the car near the Austin Visitors' Center, picked up our tickets, and claimed seats on the upper level of the bus.

There were four (two-hour long) hop-off stops on the tour with commentary and music along the way.  We would not be able to get off on all the stops during the day, so we needed to pick the places we really wanted to see.  We drove by the state capitol on the way to the University of Texas.

Once on the campus, Darryl Royal Stadium, home of the Longhorns, dominated many of the views.  I love college football, so this was a highlight for me.

Our first (two-hour) stop was the LBJ Presidential Library.  The numerous displays depicted the culture and politics of the LBJ era.  Lots of memories in those rooms.  Below is a reconstruction of the Oval Office as it was during Johnson's presidency.

The unique display below shows the many pens that Johnson used to sign the bills associated with his signature program "The Great Society".  I had forgotten all the good things that happened due to his vision while in the shadow of the Viet Nam war.  

Among many other things, Dianne enjoyed some of Lady Bird's exhibits.  I think my favorite experience was listening to recorded phone conversations that LBJ had with world leaders and politicians.  He had quite a sense of humor and was without a doubt a force to be reckoned with.  During one of those conversations LBJ called a politician who he had appointed to a commission.  The politician told LBJ that he would need to decline.  LBJ responded by saying.  It's already been announced.  It's too late.  I already appointed you.  You are on the commission.  There were also many photos that demonstrated his in your face style.  He towered over most people and leaned over when making a point.  He was one of those close talkers.

Two hours was enough time to get a good taste of the library; however, we could have spent much more time there.  When it was time to meet our bus, we were famished.  The views of the university were nice, but there were no views of those famous Austin food carts.  

We rode by the famous campus tower where the worst school shooting in history (at the time) occurred when a gunman fired at people from the top.

Our second stop was at the Texas State History Museum and the State Capitol.  Every thing in Texas is big, including the star in front of the museum.  Look at those tiny people.

We really wanted to see the museum, but we were also really hungry (due to our stretched stomachs).  We headed a couple of streets over on our walk to the Capitol and found a deli.  The food was pretty good, but we really did not have time to enjoy it.  We were fortunate to join an interesting guided tour of the Capitol as soon as we entered the rotunda area.

The granite building was impressive.  Here is a look at the inside of the dome.  Note the Texas Star in the center.  I can assure you that it was not the only one.

Here is a view of the floor at the base of the rotunda.  More stars and a depiction of the five modern countries that have ruled over Texas:  Spain, France, Mexico, the Texas Republic, and the United States.

The Senate chamber was closed for renovation, however, the house of representatives was open.  Stars on every leather chair.

Lighted stars on the ceiling light fixtures (as well as the spelling out of T E X A S on the star points.

The original flag that was flown during the Battle of San Jacinto (Texas victory over Santa Ana's Mexico) hangs over the speaker's seat.  Impressive.

I have to admit that the many hundred brass hinges that adorn every door in the building was truly over the top.  Texans truly are proud of their state.

There was a lot of talk about the Texas Capitol having the biggest this, the tallest that, etc.  I expected to hear this.  However, I did not know that the four stories that were constructed underneath the Capitol for congressional offices made it the largest Capitol (square footage) in the country.  The view of the dome from a skylight in one of the basement areas was impressive.

We hurried back to the museum (which we will have to see another time) to catch our bus.  On the way to the next stop we passed a row of victorian houses that were all owned by one extended family (oil money?).  Notice the second floor windows that open out to the balconies.  Windows were used instead of doors because tax rates at the time were based upon the number of exterior doors.  

We bypassed the "South of Congress" stop where millions of Mexican Free-tail bats fly from underneath the bridge every evening at dusk because it was the wrong time of day.  There were also a lot of restaurants and food carts in that area (wish we had been there at lunch time).

We intended to get off at Lady Bird Lake and walk along the nature trail, but honestly the day was winding down and a two hour hike was just not that appealing.

The tour ended at the visitor center where we began.  We took a quick walk to 6th avenue that is known for its live music and bars, but decided that it was (in Cindy's terminology) a little too edgy for a longer stay.  

Gastronomic Tour --- episode seven:  We did stop at the Moonshine Bar and Grill (near the parking garage) for a margarita and some yummy appetizers (corn battered shrimp on a stick) before finding the car and driving back to Canyon Lake.

Stay tuned for Fun with Chuck and Cindy --- part five.

1 comment:

Bill and Nancy said...

WOW, you guys sure covered a lot of territory in a day:o))