Texas Hill Country

Fredericksburg Travel Blog

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"Sam & Mira" sit on Ajja's lap at LBJ National Park

I finally felt better this morning.  I am very happy about that, to say the least.  I still cannot eat a full meal, but that is not such a bad thing!


We left Austin about 9:30 and drove into the famed Texas Hill Country.  Depending on the weather, we were thinking of driving straight through to Fort Stockton.  Happily, it is a gorgeous autumn day and we went with our more-or-less original itinerary.  The homes and some other buildings in this part of Texas are often built using a lovely golden-colored limestone with red terra cotta tile or cedar shake roofs.  It is my mind’s picture of what Texas ranch houses should look like. 


We had decided not to visit the LBJ Ranch.

Entrance sign to the national park
  Jag said he was not particularly interested in it.  However, as we drove by the entrance, he changed his mind and we turned around to enter the State Park area.  Like Redwoods National Park in California, the LBJ Ranch is a combination of a state and national parks.  The National Park Service, as bequeathed by the late President Lyndon Johnson and his wife Lady Bird, cares for the main portion of the ranch.  It is a magical place and I can truly understand why the Johnson Family loved it so much.  The distances seem to stretch on forever.  Huge live oak and pecan trees are in groves throughout the property.  Only 600 of the 2800 acres of the ranch are within the national park itself.  It is still a working ranch.  We were too tired, after our tour, unfortunately, to see anything more than the Visitor Center of the State Park.
Graves of the Johnson Family


Within the park, our first visit was to President Johnson’s birthplace.  It has been rebuilt and restored to what it was like in 1908 when he was born, five months after my father was born.  He died of a massive heart attack in January 1973, at age 64.  At the time of his death I thought he was pretty old.  Now, at 69, I think he was pretty young!


Across the road from his birthplace is the resting place of the Johnson family.  It is not open for visits by the public, something I applaud.  One can see over the low wall to see the gravestones.  Magnificent trees within view of the Pedernales River shade the entire cemetery.  It is so peaceful. 


The one-way road took us past open fields of grass.

"Sam & Mira" on the outside telephone at LBJ Ranch
  Cattle grazed or rested under the canopies of trees, chewing their cuds or scratching their backs against the rough tree bark. We reached what is called the Show Barn.  Here prize Hereford cattle are raised for shows.  A huge bull was lying comfortably in his stall, looking like the king of the world.  His name is Mischief.  I forgot to ask the attendant and park ranger how he earned his name, other than that his sire also had “Mischief” as part of his name.  He was really gorgeous.  Even more gorgeous, in a daintier way, was a cow and her sweet young calf, a future prize bull.  She was so relaxed and did not seem to mind having people around her baby.  It was delightful listening to stories of President Johnson and how much he loved the ranch life.  Unlike many very wealthy people, we were told, LBJ was not a “weekend rancher”.  He took a strong interest and participated in all aspects of the operation. 


The views of the hills, dry from a drought-ridden summer, were beautiful.

Meet Mr. Mischief
  Oh to have the wealth to live in such a marvelous manner.  I found myself comparing this place to the ostentatious Biltmore or Hearst Castle.  I would far rather live on the LBJ Ranch than in either of those two palaces.  It is wonderful to be close to the land.


We took a guided tour to the actual Western White House - the home of President and Mrs. Johnson and their children.  They lived a colorful and exciting life with visiting dignitaries from all over the world attending their barbecues.  I found it interesting to learn that Johnson purchased the house and some of the land from his uncle.  He was not just given the property by his family.  Since Lady Bird Johnson continued to live here until her death, the Park Service was unable to make any improvements or reconstruction work until recently.  The only room in the house open to the public is Johnson’s office.  It contains many interesting things, but it is fairly small.

Main house at LBJ Ranch
  The house, which has been added to over the many years, is now 8400 square feet.  When the ranger giving the tour said that it is “by no means a mansion”, I almost laughed.  To me, 8400 square feet of house is most definitely a mansion.  It is just not ornate.


Our final stop was to see the weir across the Pedernales River.  Johnson used to shock some of his guests by driving them across the lower part of the dam in an amphibious car.  It is a beautiful sight with the calm water above the weir and the limestone rocks just below.  The sound of the rushing water is very soothing.


I reserved space at a Quality Inn in Fredericksburg for the night.  It is very pleasant, but just another motel.  Dinner will most likely be at a restaurant called The Auslander.

Weir across the Pedernales River at LBJ Ranch
  Since mainly German immigrants populate this area, a German restaurant is most appropriate.  Since my wifi connection is only available in the lobby of the motel, I will let you know how the restaurant is tomorrow.







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Sam & Mira sit on Ajjas lap at …
"Sam & Mira" sit on Ajja's lap at…
Entrance sign to the national park
Entrance sign to the national park
Graves of the Johnson Family
Graves of the Johnson Family
Sam & Mira on the outside teleph…
"Sam & Mira" on the outside telep…
Meet Mr. Mischief
Meet Mr. Mischief
Main house at LBJ Ranch
Main house at LBJ Ranch
Weir across the Pedernales River a…
Weir across the Pedernales River …
Map showing Lyndon B. Johnson Stat…
Map showing Lyndon B. Johnson Sta…
Birthplace of President Johnson
Birthplace of President Johnson
Johnsons baby crib
Johnson's baby crib
Mommy and her baby - lovely Herefo…
Mommy and her baby - lovely Heref…
Peaceful swing between main ranch …
Peaceful swing between main ranch…
I like the saying on the pillow
I like the saying on the pillow
Presidential recliner - LBJs offi…
Presidential recliner - LBJ's off…
400-year-old live oak in front of …
400-year-old live oak in front of…
photo by: brett4321