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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Drive through the Texas Hill Country & LBJ's Ranch

Oh, the weather was PERFECT for our day's adventure; blue skies, sunny, temps heading to the upper 70s, gorgeous. :)

We left the rig about 9am and drove north to the Texas Hill Country, our first destination being the Lyndon Baines Johnson State Park. This is the location of the LBJ Ranch where his Texas White House is located. Three years ago when we were in this area, we toured LBJ's boyhood home and settlement in Johnson City. So, it seem logical to tour the ranch this time around. This is such a great deal - it's a free driving tour with the tour of his home costing just $1 per person.

The drive from our campground to the state park took close to 2 hours; not a big deal when the scenery is beautiful and the weather gorgeous. We pulled into the park and got our map and went on our way. The Pedernales River divides the park from the ranch and meanders along the road.

The drive through the ranch is actually a tour of LBJ's life. The first building you come to is Junction School, a one-room schoolhouse which LBJ attended at the age of 4 years old.

Just a few yards down from the school is a reconstruction of the home in which he was born. The original home was built in 1889 and the reconstruction took place in 1964.

Across the street from LBJ's birthplace is the family cemetery. It is shaded by a beautiful live oak tree. LBJ's headstone is the tallest in the cemetery with a planter of flowers beside it that marks the grave of Lady Bird. Her headstone hasn't yet been made as her daughters are still in the process of designing it.

From the cemetery, the drive takes you through pastureland where you see horses and the Hereford cattle that were LBJ's joy. The cattle are the descendants of the original herd. The ranch has continued in operation since the days of LBJ.

A stop at the Show Barn gives you an up close look at some of the livestock - horses, cattle, goats, and sheep. We got a chance to talk with one of the horses, a few of the cattle and a couple of goats. One of the goats was so cute - when I walked away, he started whining. I came back and talked to him a bit more and he actually stood up with his front legs on the fence and talked back! I loved it.

From the Show Barn, you drive through more pastureland along the airstrip that LBJ had built to the Texas White House. The Visitors' Center is located in the hangar building. It's no longer used as a hangar because the planes got bigger and couldn't fit in it.

The guided tour of the house and grounds isn't much, actually. You're given the history of the six cars still on the grounds. Apparently, Lady Bird liked to drive herself everywhere and the Secret Service had to follow. LBJ had a hunting car, a couple of "regular" cars, and an amphibious car. He must have had a wicked sense of humor because he would try to outrun the Secret Service in his cars and, when in the amphibious car with a passenger, he would holler "The brakes are gone!" as it headed into the nearest lake.

Amphibious car
Hunting Car
Now that Lady Bird is no longer living, the house is being renovated for tours.

Right now all you can go in is LBJ's home office. It has all of the original furniture in it - including a recliner with the Presidential Seal!

The grounds are gorgeous, running right up to the Pedernales River. The Live Oak in the front yard is the oldest tree on the property, at least 400 years old.

There's also a grove of Live Oaks under which LBJ held his famous BBQs. Many a world leader ate BBQ there. :)

As you can tell, we totally enjoyed our time at the ranch. If you're in the area, I highly recommend you take a couple of hours and take the tour.

It was a little past 1pm when we left the state park. We continued our drive through the Hill Country, heading to Fredericksburg. We spent some time in Fredericksburg back in 2006 when we were in this area. Randy was looking forward to some good German cooking, so we stopped and had lunch at Wheeler's. He had sauerkraut, red cabbage, German potato salad and sausage. He thoroughly enjoyed his meal. :) I was boring and had soup and a sandwich - but it was good! We didn't spend any time in the town since we had done that previously. We wanted to continue our drive.

We drove south on SR 16, coming to Kerrville. I was disappointed to find that Kerrville wasn't quaint like Fredericksburg. That was what I had expected. Now, we didn't venture off of SR 16, so maybe we missed something. But, we did get fuel for $2.05/gallon! :)

While we drove on, we saw all kinds of livestock on the ranches along the way, some expected - others not so much. Of course we saw cattle, Longhorns and others; horses, some even miniatures; goats, sheep, and pigs. The unexpected were camels and llamas! We also saw lots of beautiful homes and when we couldn't see the homes, we saw the entrances to them. I told Randy that sometimes the entrances were more elaborate than the homes!

We got home about 5:30pm. What a long day! But, we had a great time. This is a beautiful area and there is much to do.

The next two days are travel days. We'll stop in Fort Stockton for the night tomorrow and get to Lakewood, New Mexico on Friday. The Ranch in Lakewood, an Escapee Park, will be our home for the next week.

Until the next time . . .


  1. Lindsay7:02 AM

    Glad you had such a good day! Sounds fun!

  2. Anonymous8:21 AM

    We did that trip in November while we were staying in New Braunfels. What fun. what a beautiful area.