During this last week we were able to relax a bit, play a game of golf and then visit friends and explore Austin, Texas. Whoo Hoo!
We really enjoy the city park we are in: the Kerrville – Schneider City Park. It is quiet, scenic, has full services right at out campsite, a covered picnic table and fire ring. It is wonderful. It is also just a short drive to the city’s municipal golf course, a fun par 72 hilly course. I shot a respectable 95 but was really happy with the 44 I shot on the back nine.
This past weekend we drove two hours to Austin and spent thee days with our daughter’s close friend, Sharon, her 21-month-old son, William, and her partner, Lorna. They live in a lovely 5-bedroom two story house with plenty of room. We had not seen Sharon in over 15 years so it was so good to get together again and catch up.
While in Austin, we also had a chance to enjoy Austin and spend Saturday and Sunday exploring the LBJ Presidential Library and the Texas State Museum. The Presidential Library was very inspirational as we learned about his life and all of the significant legislation he was responsible for. Given the disgusting political era we are currently going through in the US, it was an awe-inspiring to learn what President Johnson accomplished during the 5 short years that he was President. The major life changing laws he pushed for and signed into law included: the Clean Air Act, the Civil Rights Act, the War on Poverty, Food Stamps, Medicare/Medicaid, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Act, Social Security Increase, the Anti-Poverty Program, created the Arts and Humanities Foundation, Aid to Appalachia, Aid to Small Businesses, Truth in Packaging, the Teachers Corps, the Clean Rivers Act, the Scenic Rivers Act, and the Scenic Trails Act just to mention a few. He also signed into law bills that created 18 national parks, recreational areas, seashores, and preserves. To see the full list of over 180 pieces of landmark legislation he signed into law, go to: http://www.lbjlibrary.org/lyndon-baines-johnson/lbj-biography/landmark
The Library had a recreation of the Oval Office.
Of course, what he is also known for is his decision to expand the US’s involvement in the Vietnam War. This ended up being a tragic mistake that marred his term as President. The library did not down play this mistake but did present the issues leading up to the decision in a most interesting way. It had a series of interactive boards that presented the historic “facts” that led to his decision and once it presented each “fact” and the background behind each “fact”, it asked you what you would do. It then showed what President Johnson decided. By doing this, it showed how the war escalated. For example, it presented the “fact” the US intelligence sources reported to Washington that a US Destroyer was attacked and damaged by North Vietnamese patrol boats while in international waters. Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara reported this to President Johnson, who ended up making the decision to strike back and ended up getting Congress to draft and approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which gave him authority to expand US involvement. As it turns out, due to what is called the “fog of war”, the intelligence on the attack was incorrect and the US expansion in this conflict was based on bad information. How tragic!
On Sunday, we returned to the downtown area of Austin and spent the day at the Texas State Museum. Here we learned about the history of the Texas and, in the process, spent a lot of time with 4 different docents who were very informative and entertaining. One of the docents was an actual Apollo 13 mission engineer who was in the control room during that mission. We also learned about the conflict between the Texans and General Santa Ana in what ended up creating the Republic of Texas and eventually, the State of Texas.
We also saw the remains of 17th century ship, La Bella. In 1684, French King Louis XIV sent explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, across the ocean with four ships and 400 people to North America. The explorer was to land at the mouth of the Mississippi River, establish a colony and trade routes, and locate Spanish silver mines. That plan was never realized. Instead, in a series of remarkable circumstances, La Salle lost ships to pirates and disaster, sailed past his destination, and was murdered by the few survivors as he led them in a desperate trek to Canada and help. In 1686, La Belle, the one remaining expedition ship, wrecked in a storm and sank to the muddy bottom of Matagorda Bay where it rested undisturbed for over 300 years. In the late 1990’s it was discovered, removed and after 12 years of restoration and preservation was placed in this museum.
We ended our wonderful time in Austin by taking Sharon and Lorna out to fancy dinner at the Roaring Fork. The food was great and complimented the companionship we shared.
Tomorrow, with clearing weather, we hope to drive down to San Antonio to spend a day at the Alamo and to explore its famous River Walk area.