TEXAS TRIP SEPT. 2007 PART 2 OF 3
After the bus returned us to the Visitor Center, we learned that there was a restored farm as part of the State Park. It was a complete operating farm, just as it would have been in the early 1900's, using the same tools, oil lamps, wood stoves, etc. No electricity or modern conveniences. And it had two people who operated it in the old ways using the old tools. So, this really grabbed me because I have a lot of memories of times and conditions not much different. A real walk down memory lane. So here goes!
Marie enjoyed a nice chat with the Farmer. He confirmed that only the old tools and methods were used, and said we may go anywhere that we wished. He said that everything that we see is used by them, except the beds! They go home each night.
There are really two houses here: the earlier house from the late 1800s, which is now used as store rooms, and the newer house that now contains the living quarters. The old one is the one on the left.
This is the old house, which was probably built in two major increments.
This room was still furnished as it might be in the era of the old house.
The second room was being used to store all of these preserves that the Lady made. Looked delicious!
The new house was built in that light, airy way that I liked.
Note how more modern that these furnishings look, compared to those in the old house. She had been cooking all morning and there was a nice fire in the stove, and delicious aromas wafted through the air.
The farmers hot lunch has been prepared and is waiting for him to show up.
I just love those screen doors And look at the neat furnishings.
Note the kerosene lamps, manual sewing machine, and what we used to call "rag rugs" made from old clothing.
And I just can't resist a good old porch swing on a day like this. ah, Heaven!
The water is pumped from the well by the wonderful old wind mills. It goes into the large tank an the top of the "Cool house"
The place I called the cool house is also where the laundry is done using these wonderful appliances. Just think how this compares to pounding the cloths on a rock in a stream.
Even as I write this, the beauty of that barn tugs at my heart.
This is the fully equipped tack room. There were other work rooms, including the shop where he repairs all of his implements.
As we walked back to our car I spotted this sign. I think that there are millions of people who would love to have the jobs that the farmer and his lady have.
Next we jumped in our car and drove to the nearby Johnson City to see the house that LVJ grew up in. Johnson City is not named for him, it was named for some of his ancestors.
One of the really nice things about traveling after the summer crowds are gone - is that the summer crowds are gone!! You can see the large group sitting on the porch waiting for the tour to start I think there were 2 other people. The ranger who guided us through the house was outstanding.
This is the house in Johnson City where LBJ grew up. His mother was probably the main impact on his life. She came from a prosperous family, and was college educated, with a degree in Rhetoric - I think. His father was not much of a success, and she pushed LBJ to get a good education. She taught the students from the town how to debate. She held the classes on this porch, with each student, in their turn, speaking to the remainder. Of course she drilled these principles into him, and he became very proficient. After working for a couple of years in California, he returned and finished his degree and became a schoolteacher. He met Lady Bird, who was also a wealthy educated woman, and after a whirlwind courtship, they were married. He started working in politics, and a congressman asked him to come to Washington and be an assistant, and, well, the rest is history.
By building the house in the shape of a cross, the rooms are more separate, with more windows and doors for ventilation. It also means more windows and more light. Great for the hot humid south before the advent of air conditioning.
The bathroom was just an enclosure on one of the many porches. It had a door into the boys room, and the other onto the porch. I asked about the problem of going through someones bedroom to go take a bath, and the guide reminded me that most of the people had grown up in single room houses where everyone lived together, and bathed in a wash tub, so this was a great improvement.
I bet a lot of great southern cooking came out of this stove!
Simple solid well designed and solid furnishings
A screened-in porch for sleeping during the hot summers.
There was a scale model of the house in the visitors center, and I took this view that clearly shows the cross like configuration. Four wings.
We jumped into our car, programmed our Magellan Navigator to take us to our hotel in Austin. Shortly after we arrived, Brigid came and met us in our hotel, and then drove us to one of her favorite restaurants, which sits on the shore of a beautiful lake here in Austin. She said that she likes Austin much better than San Antonio, though she lives in San Marcos, about halfway between. After dinner, she drove us to the spot on a river bridge where, each day twilight, one can see millions of bats leaving a cave. the cave was accidentally opened when the bridge was constructed, and the bats moved in. It is right in the center of Austin, and there were hundreds of people standing on the bridge watching the spectacle.
The next morning we used Magellan to find out way to the huge LBJ Library and Museum that is located on the University of Texas Campus in Austin. It is a very large windowless cube like building that is about 10 or 11 stories tall. The first two floors contain the public displays, the next 9 floors are the archives, which are only open to researchers. The top floor contains a reproduction of LBJ's Oval Office, and some other display rooms. As you might expect the displays were excellent.
That is a large portrait of the whole family on the left.
These are photos of LBJ and Lady Birds ancestors and relatives.
LBJ was renowned for his love of telling stories. This was a delightful little space, where this life sized animated manikin, which appeared very lifelike, told a reporter of about 7 short stories. They were all in his drawling southern voice and the net effect was stunning. And the stories were all clean, and FUNNY! Marie wished that we could buy a CD containing this audio track.
There is this huge open room, as shown here from the stairs going from the first to the second floors. I think it is about 6 stories high. All those windows that you see are showing the shelves in the archives. The room is very impressive.
this is a "look-alike" actor, who is impersonating LBJ as a Senator, in the late 50s. He was very good, and encouraged questions and dialog from the audience, though it was restricted to topics appropriate to the era, e,g,, the late 50s.
LBJ's Oval Office, shown recreated here with mostly original furnishings, for some reason, has been built to a scale slightly smaller than the original. It looked good, though I cringed when I saw the bank of old, old, old fashioned TV sets.
This sofa provided ample room for good old fashioned Texas arm twisting
We jumped back into our rental car, and our faithful GPS Navigator guided us to the Texas State Capitol building, in the heart of Austin.
It was surrounded by beautiful tree shaded grounds.
The Dome was quite high, but not as large across as most we have seen. Way back in the mid 1800s, when the legislature was trying to build a capitol building, they had a very large problem, - they had no money for the project. But, they had lots and lots of land!. So they made a deal with a large company, I think from Chicago, to swap a very large chunk of land in the Panhandle, for a spanking new Capitol Building. I also think that most of the stone came from Texas.
We saw this group forming for a tour, and we joined.
This is the State Senate. She reported that the desks are all still original from the first Senate that sat in this building. Some changes have been made to provide some communications.
I was really amazed when she told us that the Texas Legislature only sits during the odd number years. They are all at home working at their normal non governmental jobs during the even numbered years. The Governor can call them into session, but it does not happen very often. When questioned, the guide reported that there are several other states that do not use full time legislatures. Just think of the advantages! In addition to the benefits in the legislature, there is no full time news media experts spinning their stories on the TV.
This is the state House of Representatives, very crowded.. The guide reported that the crowding throughout the capitol building was unbearable by the time of the 1980s, with most of the secretaries and staff sitting at desks in the halls. Believe me, the halls in this old building are dark and dreary. So, after setting up numerous committees, they approved a really innovative plan. They would build lots of new space, but, in order to protect the historic beauty of the overall setting, they would build it all under the beautiful grounds.
So, our guide proudly led us through tunnels into the new office building. It extends about 4 or 5 stories into the ground, I think. This is one of the ventral hallways that is very nicely illuminated by large skylights. We took an elevator to the surface to look around.
Looking back at the Capitol Building, with the skylights in the foreground.
we jumped back in our car and headed to San Marcos, about 40 miles distant, for a dinner date with Brigid and her three daughters.
Our meeting spot was one of their favorites that they wanted us to see. It is called AQUARENA SPRINGS, because of the beautiful clear springs that bubble up from the sandy river bottom to form a beautiful river. A popular amusement park developed here, but later slowed down, and the owner deeded it to the University, who has been restoring it to it's beautiful natural state. This is one of the glass bottomed boats slowly cruising the placid waters.
HOORAY! The girls have arrived. You know the two cute big girl's I will introduce the cute small ones! Lilly is the tall one, and the bashful one in the middle is Brenna. Her twin, who is a little taller at this point, is Clair.
Aren't they just gorgeous!
And full of fun!
They had been out on the glass bottomed boats several times before, but just love it, so we went again. Even though the "last ride of the day" was finished 20 minutes ago, they cheerfully agreed to take us out again.
Brigid reported that some of the very original old Tarzan movies were shot here because of the pure clean water.
There were some wild aquatic birds along the shore.
My neck would still hurt if I did that! But I am not as cute as she is!
Exploring the walkways through the marshes. Lots and lots of turtles.
Next we went a couple of miles down the river to eat at one of the girls favorite restaurant, right by the water. Brigid recommended several items, including a great half pound hamburger cooked the way you like it. I ordered it medium rare with lots of sauteed onions. It was scrumptious - I think the best I ever had in a commercial establishment. I had so much fun I don't remember what the others ate! If you wonder where Lily is, she is at another table filling out a job application! Earlier, after deciding that she would love to get a job there because she loves it, she went to the desk and asked for a job application. Isn't she great!
The twins wanted to feed the ducks, so we went downstairs and, though the sun had just set, grabbed these shots of youthful pleasure.
I may be the smallest, but I can still talk the most!
Before we left, some of the shoes were off and feet were cooling in the delightful river.
So we parted company because it was bed time for the girls -- and the old coots too. But we had a challenge finding the motel, since we had not programmed it into the navigator. But we eventually made it, and slept well.
The next morning we departed for the Houston area, one of out longest days of driving. We were heading for the JOHNSON SPACE CENTER (JSC). Which is about 20 miles south of Houston. It is responsible for all of NASA's manned space flight, and takes over full control as soon as the shuttle lifts of the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center.
In the course of my career I had visited JSC many times. At one point I was planning for a similar facility for the USAF that was to be built in Colorado Springs, so I had full access to all of the inner workings of the JSC. So, since it had been over 20 years since I had been there, I was anxious to see what had changed. Of course, the whole area had grown tremendously, with lots of traffic and construction. A major change is that NASA had created a non profit corporation to house and exhibit all of the artifacts, and provide tours of the JSC. Here is the entrance.
I thought that the key thing to do was to take the guided tour of the real facilities at JSC, so we got up early and were the second people in line to get our tickets. The we went to this tram, which was on the first tour of the morning.
the tram entered the JSC "campus", and eventually arrived at this building which housed all of the Mission Control Rooms that are actually used for controlling all manned missions, including the Shuttle and the Space Station. I had been here a number of times before.
This a nice view of a real Mission Control Room. We were in the visitors gallery, and took our photos through the glass.
The tram next took us a very large building the housed most of the crew training facilities. All of these cylinders are training simulators related to one or more aspects of a space mission.
You can recognize the Shuttle simulator.
You have probably heard how the Shuttle has a large arm that is used to manipulate large items such as satellites or Space Station modules while in space. Here is one of the places where the astronauts can train with an arm that has been modified so that it can work in the full gravity of the earth's surface.
Next, the tram took us to the huge building that houses the largest rocket ever, the Saturn 5 which was used to launch all of the Apollo voyages to the moon. It used to be outside in the weather, but they finally built this nice building to protect it. Here we view the bottom and it's 5 huge rocket engines.
This is view from the top of the launch vehicle.
This is one of the early launch vehicles, I think for an early Mercury or Gemini flight.
The tram took us back to the main exhibition buildings, and we started examining the wonderful exhibits. Here is the view inside a Shuttle Simulator. This is the right hand seat.