Saturday, January 30, 2010


We spent the night in Luckenbach buffeted by heavy winds and rain. Lightening flashed, the thunder exploded around us til' we wondered if we would be a burned cinder sitting in the middle of a lake in the morning.
Headed for Austin, we pass through the hill country where L.B.J was born, raised and buried on the homestead his grandfather settled in the 1800's . The LBJ ranch is now the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park which sits across the Pedernales River from his grandfather's homestead and the Johnson family home where Ladybird and Lyndon lived and raised their two girls.

This is one of the bridges we tourists cross over. It was just at flood stage and bitterly cold when we arrived at the Visitors Center which had been struck by lightening and had no usable restrooms when we arrived.

But this is the way the Johnson family crossed the river from the ranch to their house, on the underwater road above. Johnson loved taking newsmen and visitors for a ride without warning them they'd be traveling underwater for a short distance.
The woman in his Lincoln appears to be holding on for dear life.
Johnson and Lady Bird in their 1934 Ford Phaeton. The road was actually pretty dry at certain times of year. He also owned a German made Amphicar that you could drive into the water. It had little propellers on it. It is on display along with other Johnson owned cars.

This homely old rocker along with several others for guests, sits on the porch of the Johnson home. Its a modest house, lovingly used and faithfully kept as the Johnson's lived in it. No pictures were allowed inside, but the house exudes warmth, and family, with a lot of snapshots of the kids and grandkids in a big montage, just like you or I might have on our kitchen wall.
The visitor centers shows a film of Johnson giving a tour and history of his beloved ranch for a CBS Documentary. The cane in the case below was made of matchsticks by an inmate in a Tennessee prison. But, the best display had me howling with laughter as I read letters written to the President. Abbreviated samples:

Dear President Johnson-
My husband's roofing busines has gone to pot, the car blew up, the baby's teething, the sitter didn't show, I've got no money for a writing course. I'm sorry to ditch you, but maybe the Republicans might be better when all you do is worry about Fulbright and that measly war...

...Now I ask you Mr. President couldn't you be more considerate? Were all those fireworks for King Faisal necessary when I have 293 kids on a field trip staying at a hotel. How would you like it if 293 kids woke you up?...

Letter writers complained about him interrupting their favorite shows, his misuse of English, his airplane holding up air traffic. But the worst was a beleaugered man who was held up in road traffic because Lady Bird was planting a tree. What a fun visit.

Also on the LBJ homestead is the Western Whitehouse and another old homestead that is being maintained by the park service as a working homestead with docents in period costumes.

Smoking sausage and feeding the kitchen range.

The tour costs a dollar, by the way.

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