Mar 1 - Mar 31 - We're Winter Texans! - Part 2
Picking up where Part 1 of our March report left off, and we're in Fredericksburg TX at the Fredericksburg RV Resort (9).
Fredericksburg is only about 15 miles from the place where President Lyndon Johnson was born and died - the LBJ Ranch. The LBJ presidential library and museum is in Austin, about 80 miles away, and his boyhood home is in Johnson City, about 50 miles away. All three locations are open, and we toured them all. LBJ was pretty much destined for a life in politics - his father was a Texas State Senator, and LBJ idolized his dad, and learned a lot about politics Texas style from him. Out of college, Johnson taught school for a few years, then got a job as an aide to his US Congressman. A few years after that, he ran for and was elected congressman, then US Senator, and ultimately was chosen as running mate by John Kennedy. The rest you pretty much know.
LBJ was probably the last of the old style politicians to serve as President. He was legendary for his abilities to persuade (some say cajole, some say blackmail). When he ran for election in 1964, he scored the highest percentage of popular vote - 61% - of any President since James Madison. He signed more bills into law than any other President, ever. When he assumed office after Kennedy's death, he adopted and successfully pushed for enactment of most of the Kennedy programs. He wasn't one you could easily say "No" to. He considered his inability to bring an equitable end to the Vietnam War his greatest failure. In a state as conservative as Texas is today, the liberal Democrat LBJ is a revered favorite son. And folks will admit he's probably more popular now than he was back then. Time does that, apparently.
Anyhow, we've got pictures and more info about many things LBJ in our slideshow. We hope you find it as interesting as we do.
After six nights in Fredericksburg, we packed up and headed east to the 1000 Trails Colorado River Resort (10) outside Columbus TX. The resort is located on the banks of the Colorado River (a smaller river unconnected to the more famous Colorado River out west), and is populated by a lot of pecan trees and about 30 resident deer. We unwittingly arrived just in time for Spring Break, and the park was completely full. Chalk up another good reason to have reservations. Anyway, after some intensive touristing in Fredericksburg, we kind of kicked back and didn't do a whole lot. Judy made couple of visits to a Curves in Sealy TX, which is on the ragged edge of being too far for a daily commute. We discovered a delightful BBQ place - Jerry Mikeskas - and went a couple of times. We treated ourselves to a delightful, slightly spendy dinner at the local Nancy's Steak House, where we've now eaten three times - once each time we've been in Columbus. And we drove the Columbus tour of historical homes, each with an audio explanation delivered by low-power FM signals. Most interesting.
Columbus actually has a fascinating history. It's in the original land grant given by Mexico to Stephen Austin. It was once considered as a candidate for the capitol of the new Texas Republic. It was the first platted Anglo city in the new Texas Republic. Three graduates of Columbus High School (all brothers) went on to play in the National Football League. And it's the proud home of the third-largest live oak tree in the state. All that for a town of barely 5,000 people. The original settlers were largely Eastern European, with many Czech names about. We've never spent much time in Columbus, and this time it seemed like we'd not paid it proper attention. Maybe we'll come back one day and spend more time. It's a kind of a neat place.
After 10 days in Columbus, we hooked up and headed east. Going through Houston in a motorhome isn't much fun. So Al figured out a way to bypass it by cutting cross country on lesser-traveled roads. We missed one critical turn, and wound up seeing some things and feeling some rough, much lesser-traveled, roads we'd have otherwise missed. Even so, we were only 4 minutes behind our original ETA when we pulled into the Lake Conroe RV Resort (11) in Willis TX, about 40 miles north of Houston, and settled down for a three week stay.
Over the past couple of years, we've become frustrated at our inability to spend a whole day touring someplace. Between the neuromas on Judy's feet and Al's wonky left hip, we just run out of stamina after about 2 or 3 hours. There are so many places we could get so much more out of. So, while at the Lake Conroe Resort, we drove into Houston and picked up two mobility scooters. We'd test-driven them at the FMCA Rally in Indio in January, but decided to wait a couple months after having all that RV work done in November. And after comparing our fatigue levels after touring the War Museum, where we could borrow electric scooters, and the Johnson Library-Museum, where we relied on our feet, we knew it was time to act. Besides, picking them up at the factory saved us several hundred dollars in shipping. So we now have two "poor man's Segways" tucked into the back of the Honda. We'll use them when we go places where our endurance could be tested.
Texas is a fascinating state. It's probably the only state to have fought a war to get into the US, and then another to get out of the US. In 1836, Texas declared itself independent from Mexico, and fought (and won) their own revolutionary war. Becoming a Republic, Texas then applied for US statehood. But the US didn't see any value in all that empty, barren land, and it wasn't until 1845 that Texas finally became the 28th state. By then, the Republic of Texas was broke and deeply in debt. Becoming a state resolved all that. And then, less than 20 years later, Texas sided with the Confederacy and fought (and lost) another war to get out of the US. All that we learned at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park. Washington was where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. It was the first capitol of the Republic, and 9 years later, the last capitol. It was where the transition to US State was finalized. Today, the town is pretty well gone, but the historical park and museum preserves the story. And we got a chance to try out our new scooters.
Interesting sidelight: Washington TX was a thriving city when the railroad almost came to town. The railroad wanted the city to put up $11,000 to help fund construction. The city fathers refused, believing the railroad was just a fad, a toy. So the railroad went to nearby Navasota. Within 2 years of the completion of the railroad, so had all the businesses and most of the people in Washington. Today the town has bounced back from a low of 4 residents to almost 25. It even has a post office! But no businesses that we could see.
We can't not mention Texas Pride. It's almost a state religion. We don't recall seeing as many state flags displayed in any other state as we've seen in Texas. The red, white and blue Lone Star flag is everywhere. Granted Texans have a lot to be proud of, but so do residents of most other states. But in Texas, that pride shows everywhere. You hear folks saying things like "If you were lucky enough to have grown up in Texas . . . " and "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could." And in Texas, we're no longer snowbirds. We're "Winter Texans". It makes us feel just a tad more welcome.
On March 28 we remembered and then modestly celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. We doubt anybody 22 years ago would have predicted the life we live today, rambling about the country exploring. Back then, this lifestyle had never occurred to either of us.
Weather-wise, March was a typical month of transition into spring. It started with rain and freezing temperatures, and ended with sweltering temperatures. We're having to relearn how our air conditioners work. Next month we'll start heading north through "Tornado Alley", hoping to avoid the nasties.
There are about 67 pictures in our slide show this time. Check them out here.