After spending a couple relaxing days with friends in Bastrop (one of which included a “master class” in auto restoration at Charley’s Garage), check in with cousin Vince in Austin (we drank up Austin’s beer allotment on my trip east), and then head west… but, as it turns out, not too far.
Even in Texas, controversy accumulates when “LBJ” is spoken, but a combination of Natonal and State Park efforts have made LBJ Ranch a worthy tour.
A Visitor Center video and associated exhibits offer insights into this “larger-than-Life” “accidental” President. (In fairness, irrespective of opinions about his presidency, his control of America’s Senate deserves an A+ for illustrating how one man can shape a political environment).
Starting with a small one-room schoolhouse where “Childe Lyndon” learned how to “cozy up” to his first-grade teacher, family homes, and tombstones of Johnson and family lead toward long, rolling fields and livestock outbuildings.
A school class listens intently as a park ranger describes “ranching”, and watching teachers “herd” children into their “auto drive” offers a tinge of irony. A Presidential jet sits at ranch’s airstrip, and administrative buildings now serve as museum.
Later, wander around Fredericksburg: an old German-themed town dating back to a period when European immigrants entered not through Ellis Island, but ports such as Galveston/TX or New Orleans/LA. (A wonderful wine territory luxuriates along an Austin-to-San-Antonio I-35 corridor).
Early dinner at Fredericksburg Brewery provides an interesting inter-generational insights: older men speaking of excessive heat and depleted water; young couples sharing thoughts on their respective technology tools.
Wander through downtown and become captivated at waterwheel in Market/Pioneer Square.
As sun sets, search out South Llano River State Park, and am treated by hosts to “categorical imperative” of Texas sights/sites “which are not to be missed”. Make my soothing promises without mentioning having seen many on prior trips, and, more importantly, a yearning for home.