Wednesday, March 30, 2016

All Around Austin...

We've been to Texas a number of times, but never to the "Hill Country" area and not  specifically to Austin, which is one city I'd heard was "a fun one to visit" and "a must see", so this time, I was determined to make the time to get there, so off we went!  Well, as they say, "timing is everything"...and sometimes you just can't help when you get there.  We knew it would be "spring break", but were told that everyone goes to the coast, so it shouldn't be to bad, even tho Austin is a college town.  What we didn't know was that it was hosting the SXSW.  Which is a huge music, film & multimedia arts convergence that comes to town for 12 days.  Hundreds of thousands of young folks pay hundreds of dollars to attend and listen to hundreds of bands, see Indie type films, eat, drink, party, etc all day and night all along several blocks down the main city streets downtown.  Tents are set up and streets are blocked off.  This thing was BIG.

We arrived on it's last two days, not knowing where it was taking place, innocently deciding to see the famous "6th street area" so, headed downtown!  Oh boy!  Was that an experience!  Jack got to drive the gauntlet of detours with what seemed like 100 traffic cops, while I got to listen (?) to what seemed like 50 bands all trying to out-play each other at one time, since they were pretty much side-by-side, all while thousands of young people were doing their best at walking along so crowded together they could barely move (is that called a herd?).   Long lines were everywhere, outside restaurants, bars, the theaters, port-a-potties, etc.  Yet, everyone was dancing and having a great time!  I had Jack drive around a couple of times just so I could take it all in.  Ah, youth...were we ever that young?

We came back on Monday, after the festival was over, just to see if the area was completely clean, almost all traces gone.  All the stores, restaurants, bars, etc were closed though - exhausted!  You could almost hear them sleeping...a well deserved rest.  We never did make it back there...

So, instead, we enjoyed SoCo, or South Columbia Street!  Much more our style anyway...It's more Bohemian or funky, or as my kids say hippy.  Lots of fun murals, unusual stores, including a Tom's Shoe Store (1 of only 5) some great food places, some live music, and cool art stores.  Every time we visited this street we found something new, something different, something fun! 

When we weren't down on SoCo, we were off "seeing the sights", so first off was the State Capitol!  Quite impressive, I must say, although, hey, it's Texas, right?  Of course it's BIG, and of course the star dome is beautiful, but what was an unexpected surprise was the Rotunda floor.  A composite terrazzo design of the "Seals of the Nations" with the Seal of the Republic of Texas with its Lone Star in the center.  It's absolutely beautiful.  The details throughout the whole building are awesome, from the door hinge's to the various statues. 

Austin also is home to the LBJ Library, and we all know that Johnson was all Texan!  Visiting his library was both interesting and tough for me as it brought back a lot of memories.  Having lived through those years personally, it brought them all back.  Reading a lot of the material, I didn't envy Johnson taking over when he did, it was a tough time, and it no doubt was the reason he died so young.  He was in a no win situation.  Things are bad now, but back in the 1960's we were facing a war that not only where ALL our own family and friends were in; that we really didn't understand, and many didn't believe in, but we were fighting one here as well.  A war against each other - a race war like this generation has never seen.  Awful.  One that killed not only everyday people, but our leaders, both black and white ones.  I don't believe our country has ever been the same since. 

I needed something cheerful after that, so we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center!  Lovely place, acres full of beautiful Texas Bluebonnets, Paintbrush, Evening Primrose, Spiderwort, Yellow star, Crossvine, trees, ponds, and all kinds of fun walking paths and things to explore.  It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon! 

It was suggested by a 'fellow Texan' that we go see the  Bullock Texas State History Museum, so we added it to our agenda!  It starts out with the discovery of the La Belle (c1684) and the restoration that's  currently taking place.  Then, of course, they talk about Stephen Austin, the Revolution, they move on to cotton, slavery, ranching, the oil boom, movies, and end with the iconic space scene "Houston..the Eagle has landed"(1969).  Cool.

It was finally our time to end our visit to Austin and move on to other parts of "the Hill Country" of Texas while the wildflowers are still blooming and the sun is still shining! 

...on the road in Texas,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

1 comment:

  1. We always enjoy the Hill Country and especially Fredericksburg. If you get out that way you can also see the home where LBJ grew up in Johnson City, TX and also his ranch and summer White House just few miles outside of Johnson City on Hwy 290. The ranch gives another view of the life LBJ and Lady Bird shared.