Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Austin, TX

After spending 3 days immersed in Cajun culture, we said "adieu" to Louisiana.  Now its "Hola Tejas!" as we traveled west into the Lone Star State.  Its one big state.  From the Louisiana border to El Paso is about 850 miles.  Its like driving from our home across six states to Indiana.  We'll take about 10 days to get across.

After driving through miles and miles of I-10 sprawl that is Beaumont and Houston, our first stop was Austin.  This city became the capital in 1839, when Texas was its own country.  President Miribeau Lamar didn't like having the capital in the swampy bayou area in Houston, so he moved it to Austin, a more central area.  Today, Austin is hip, funky, and full of its own culture.  Its also huge with over 800,000 people.

Mrs. with LBJ
I totally under estimated the size of Austin.  It was a just too big for us to explore in the RV in 3 days.  Traffic, even at mid day, was a crawl through the center of the city (due to the SXSW festival and spring break).  To really see it you need to stay downtown and spend a few days just walking around and taking the food, music, and culture.  I had planned to visit the San Antonio Missions, but after driving thru Houston and seeing Austin, this country boy just couldn't take going into another big city.

We were able to pick up our mail, get some banking done, do the laundry, get re-supplied, and get the RV front end aligned.  It was a lot of running around and very stress full doing this all over a big new city.  We stayed at an RV park in Bastrop, east of the city, for 2 nights. It was ok, but mostly had full time tenants vs campers.

We did manage to visit the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas - Austin.  While sentiments of the Vietnam War shrouded LBJ's legacy, he was a man who accomplished much in his 5 years as President.  He established Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start, Food Stamps, and the Work Study programs.  He also pushed through The Voting Rights Act, The Civil Rights Act, Immigration Reform, and the War on Poverty.  It was interesting to listen to telephone recordings of LBJ lobbying politicking Congressmen for key legislation.  He was persuasive, direct, and charming.  The Library has a replica of his oval office with all the actual furniture.  It was a worthwhile visit.

The suit LBJ wore and the dress Lady Bird wore at the swearing in

LBJ's Oval Office

LBJ's Presidential Limousine
On our third day, we got to visit the Zilker Municipal Park and Botanical Gardens down by the river in the center of the city.  Its a huge park.  The Mrs. really like the botanical gardens.  I didn't get a chance to go in as there was no place to park the RV nearby. So I dropped her off, found a spot to park a ways away and let her enjoy the flowers.  She spent the afternoon in the park. I spent the afternoon shopping for a new health insurance plan on-line as the Obamacare idiots back home decided to renew my health insurance to a different plan on a limited network that doesn't support one of my doctors.  I got to experience the "you can keep your plan, you can keep your doctor" lie first hand. It was almost enough to make me want to start drinking heavily.  But enough of that rant.

On the end of day three, I was glad to get all the chores done and get out of the big city.  We headed for the sparse Texas Hill Country and the towns of Johnson City and Fredericksburg.

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