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A Whole Lot of Texas Love

By now you're probably thinking we are never going to get out of Texas aren't you? Perhaps I've gone into too much detail? Last Monday we were out and about in Austin at this time; this week I've just finished filling the bird feeders, a little laundry, my bike ride and unloading the car from the weekend markets. Not nearly as glamorous that's for sure.

Saturday morning bright and early we finally got to spend time with J & A. I'm tempted to call them the kids for short, but that sounds a little silly doesn't it? By their age, we had four children so we definitely weren't kids. Together we headed once again to the hill country, using the article from the New York Times as our guide, we hit a few of the spots they mentioned, each of them very special. In the two years they have lived in Austin, they had yet to visit the area so it was great for all of us. Our first stop was the LBJ National Park and Ranch. Alissa works for the Lyndon Johnson School of Public Policy at UT making this was a must-see; we were all glad we stopped. Beautiful wildflowers greeted us at the entrance.
She is as big of a shutter bug as I am, so the "boys" were in trouble. We were given a cd to play as we drove slowly through the park and ranch which worked beautifully. Our first stop was a working farm from the late 1800's, a neighbor of the Johnsons, and how interesting it was.
The sign at the gate implored us to close the gate as there are roaming animals, although mostly the roamers were chickens, roosters, and turkeys. This sure was a beautiful cow,
Everything was beautifully maintained, from the farm yards to the interiors:
A costumed woman explained how they use the milk to make various kinds of cheeses and butter. The clothesline had a bag of whey draining for, if my memory serves me right, cottage cheese. The wash house and windmill, connected to a well
with the garden just behind it. In the picture above with Jonathan on the left, you can see how the families added porches during, what we read, the "good years." Inside I found the template for what is now "online shopping." Once upon a time this was the only way for farmers to buy goods they could not find in town or make themselves. Sound familiar?
The more things change, the more they stay the same......

Slowly we drove through the ranch which was just beautiful with white tailed deer roaming as well as cattle, one of whom crossed the road directly in front of us!
During his time in the White House, LBJ spent about 25% of his time at the ranch, going so far as to build an airstrip and hanger for a downsized version of Air Force One. We saw them both in this beautiful, peaceful spot of Texas.

From there we made our way to Grape Creek Winery for a wine tasting, something Alissa had never done. Jonathan dislikes wine, so he sat this one out.
Just behind my left shoulder is Katie, the lovely woman who was our pourer. During the week she is a third grade teacher and loves it. From what we saw of her personality I suspect her students love her as well. If you didn't know Texas had wineries, you are in good company. Actually, most states have wineries, just not famous ones. Thirty years from now, when I'm long dead and gone, Texas wineries will probably be huge. I guess I'll never know for sure. I will say they are off to a good start with many wineries along Highway 290, locally called Wine Road.
Our next stop was Fredericksburg for lunch. Bonus find--classic car show!
I could do a whole post on the colorful cars we saw, nary a white or silver one in the bunch!

Back on the road again, we stopped for local peaches as well as at a gorgeous wildflower farm. Looking back on it, we should have gone in and seen more, but on this occasion we mad do with the view.
The above fields went on forever, as did this one:
I was dying to get close to that purple field in the distance!!!

Heading back the way we came, we debated whether or not to go to Pedernales Falls State Park, finally deciding, "why not?" Another terrific place. Fortunately Texas has had some rain this year, otherwise there would have been even less water in the Pedernales River. Then too, the fields would have been mostly brown. Yeah for rain, of which we've seen our fair share since returning to Florida!
Making our way down about twenty steps from the above view we were amazed at how smooth the rocks were.
Bruce is relaxing while Alissa is getting a good shot! Signs warned against swimming here but I have to admit, I did put my feet in the falls.
Interestingly enough, there is a sand beach. Swimming and tubing are allowed in other parts of the park, however, we were neither dressed for it, and time was running out on the day. Austin bound, we had dinner at a Red's Porch, a cool spot near their apartment. It was there that I had my first taste of Frito Pie, a staple on many menus. Cool vibe both inside and outside, with one of the rooms  wallpapered with board games. :)

Sunday was a little more low key with a tour of the UT campus, including this view of the building where Jonathan works.
 We got a close up look at the football field where a young man was working on his field goals.
Here is the happy couple in front of the entrance:
In addition we saw the main building including the infamous clock tower where in what seems reminiscent of today, a sniper randomly killed 17 from his perch 27 floors above the ground.
After a terrific lunch at Easy Tiger, another neat spot with outdoor activities including ping pong tournaments,
we made our way to the original Whole Foods, where the display of food is a work of art:
One thing I've yet to write about his how Texans love Texas. Everywhere we went the Texas flag flew proudly, including in some folks front yards! For the life of me I can't ever remember a Floridian doing the same. Their pride even includes cookies:
A cool record store, a trip to Castle Hill, a major graffiti area, and a return trip to Magnolia cafe where some in our party had.......tacos! The glorious weekend was coming to an end; we said our goodbyes and went back to our respective beds. The next time we see them they will be married!

Monday we roamed downtown again, taking in the State Capitol building which again had a whole lot of Texas love going on.
Way up in the gorgeous dome, Texas is spelled out around the star. Apparently the building is the largest capital in the United States which I'm sure doesn't surprise you one bit. Texans are all about big.
The exterior of the dome is cast iron, in case you are wondering, and the walls are pink granite, mined nearby. Although Bruce was not nearly as excited as I to tour the place, we both came away mighty impressed.

Those who've read the whole Texas saga might find this photo taken on one of the main downtown streets amusing:
Before heading to the airport, we had one last stop to make; a gift for Angela for watching our little Baxter. I'd already purchased one thing and needed just a little something extra. Who couldn't find something to buy at Big Top, located on South Congress?
Salt Lick Bar-b-Q in the airport, as well as live music, and we left Austin behind. Dave was kind enough to collect us at 9. A big fat bonus on our return----sunset above the clouds!
From our experience, I'd say Jonathan and Alissa made a super great choice when they decided to move to Austin. A whole lot of Texas love indeed.
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