Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Texas Hill Country

It was so nice to leave the big city sprawl of Austin and start to see wide open spaces and gentle rolling hills.  West of Austin the terrain starts to change to rocky scrub grass land.  There are less trees, less development, open range, and the elevation starts to increase.  They call this area the Hill Country of Texas.  This is what I envisioned Texas would look like.  And you see people wearing cowboy hats and boots.

Roadrunner RV Park Johnson City
Our first stop was Johnson City.  Its not much of a city, more like a small town.  We stayed at the Roadrunner RV Park right in the middle of town.  This was a nice place to spend the night.  The spaces were close together but they had concrete pads and all the full hook ups.  The host was super nice showing us to our site and giving us recommendations for food and site seeing.  We had some nice Mexican food for dinner.

Our first stop was to visit the LBJ Ranch (LBJ National Historic Park) a few miles west of town.  We spent 3 hours at the ranch. It is such a lovely home site and I can understand why LBJ loved living there.  The ranch is quite large and includes LBJ's birth home, the one room school he attended, his ranch, and the ranch house, which was referred to as the Texas White House.

We took the driving tour of the ranch property and then had a guided tour of the ranch house.  The overall property had been in the Johnson family since his grandfather started ranching in the late 1800's.  LBJ bought the property from his aunt in 1950 and expanded the original house to include 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a guest house, movie theater, swimming pool, and airstrip.  He also added to his original 72 acres expanding his holdings to over 2,000 acres.  The park service does a great job giving the tour.  LBJ had his 3rd and final heart attack at the ranch in 1973 and Lady Bird lived there until 1993.  This is a very worthwhile stop.  Here are some pictures of the ranch.

LBJ Birth Home

LBJ Grave Site
LBJ Ranch House

LBJ Ranch

Admiral Chester Nimitz
From there we went 15 miles west to Fredericksburg.  This is a neat town, full of artisan shops, German restaurants, and wine tasting rooms.  It really embraces its German heritage.  It also houses the Museum of the Pacific War.  Admiral Chester Nimitz was from Fredericksburg and the museum is somewhat of a tribute to his legacy.  The museum is extensive and I spent 2 hrs inside and only saw half of it.

Museum of the Pacific War

We spent two days in the Hill Country and could easily have spent 4-5 days.  Fredericksburg itself is worth a two day visit.  We stayed at the Lady Bird Johnson RV Park, which is 3 miles south of town.  Its run by the town and is a nice place to park for an overnight stay.  It had full hook-ups, cable TV, and free wifi for only $30/night. We only spent one night since I had reservations at Big Bend NP and couldn't extend the stay.  Big Bend would take two days of driving across west Texas.

Next stop is the little town of Marathon so we can re-supply and then go off the grid for a few days.

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