Having had our “tire experience, thanks to the honesty of the gentlemen at Gene’s Tire in Bossier City, we got on the road for Dallas to start the two-day tour of presidential libraries in Texas. The first stop was the George W. Bush library at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus in Dallas.
As you enter the library/museum is a beautiful gallery which has Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to American Warriors. The display was opened on March 2nd and will be available until October 1, 2017.
We hope it becomes permanent as it is the highlight of the library. brings together 66 full-color portraits and a four-panel mural painted by President Bush of members of the United States military who have served our nation with honor since 9/11 — and whom he has come to know personally. Each painting is accompanied by the inspiring story of the veteran depicted, written by the President.
Another key area in the library is called “A Nation Under Attack”. Of course we remember it well, Janice still has her entry badge to the World Trade Center. In the museum we Remembered the events of September 11, 2001, and it honors the lives lost. Artifacts, including steel from the World Trade Center and the bullhorn President Bush used to address the crowd at Ground Zero. Of course every Presidential Library has an oval office to show which desk, pictures and sculptures they used in the office,George W had a place for the dog.
We finished the tour and headed south to College Station to see the George Bush Library, George Herbert Walker Bush’s library is on the campus of Texas A&M University. It was wonderful. There is the history of his life and times during WWII, much on Camp David where their were many family get-togethers, as will as the home in Kennebunkport, Maine. There is a replica of the situation room where you can review the decisions and in about Kuwait and Desert Storm. There is a special section dedicated to First Lady Barbara Bush and her efforts on behalf of literacy, AIDS awareness and prevention, and volunteerism. We departed the library on our way to Austin Texas to visit the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library.
Lyndon B. Johnson Library
We caught the bus right on the street outside the park to the LBJ Library. The library is very nice on the University of Texas campus.
We drove from Austin in the morning and were looking forward to an afternoon of sightseeing in San Antonio.
Our first stop was the Alamo, seeing it for the first time, John was amazed at how small it was. Having been raised when Fess Parker and John Wayne were playing Davy Crockett, it was bigger than life.
The siege by Santa Anna and fewer that 100 men that came from all parts of not only the United States but Europe as well fought bravely to the last one for the independence of Texas from Mexico.
“In the gift store I got into a conversation with a group of five college age people that were looking at the coon skin hats that were so famously worn by Davy Crockett. I told them what it was like when we were not even 10 years old and we all had to have those hats because of the love and enjoyment we had for Walt Disney’s series on Davy Crockett, born on a mountaintop and all. They really enjoyed hearing this old character, me, talking about how we enjoyed our youthful heroes.” John Wilson
The tour did not take long, but was a thrill to see where these men fought for liberty. William Travis was only 26 as he told Santa Anna, “give me death or give me liberty! His letter is a wonderful read. We all hear so much about the pride that Texans have for their state, it is wonderful to understand the foundation on which it was built.
Commandancy of the The Alamo
Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —
Victory or Death.
William Barrett Travis.
Lt. Col. comdt.
P. S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
Walking across from the Alamo we headed to the River Walk. It is a beautiful walk with many stores and restaurants. We decided to have lunch and found this interesting place. It is called Dick’s Last Resort and the food was pretty good and the atmosphere was a blast.
The waiters create hats for people and wrote funny items that the person wearing the had could not see, but everyone else could! A few beers and a fun time. Off we headed to our overnight park getting ready for golf the next day.
Janice had played this course years ago with a friend in a 4 ball golf tournament and said we must play so first thing in the morning we drove over to the course. It was a beautiful day weather perfect about 75 degrees. The course is beautiful and not to be missed if in San Antonio. We had a great day of golf and did not play bad either! Off we headed to Fredericksburg, a cute German town in Texas.
As we approached Fredericksburg Janice realized it was no longer the cute town from 25 years ago, it was a huge tourist town and was packed with people so we decided not to stay and to make our way as far west as possible. We planned on being in Huego Tanks Sate Park the next day. We ended our drive in Fort Stockton, it was super windy, as west Texas usually is, and the sign in the reception area at the park said, “We know it is a little windy but it will get much worse”.
On the way we passed the Guadelope Mountains National Park so we decided to stop at the visitors center. This mountain range has the four highest peaks in Texas and slopes upward from the New Mexico border into Texas. This park preserves some of the exposed remnants of the Capitan Reef, one of the world’s finest examples of ancient barrier reefs. Beginning some 250 million years ago, seawater and decaying marine organisms deposited lime along the shallow shelf of the Delaware Basin of the Permian Sea, forming a reef many hundreds of feet thick. Sediments buried the reef as the ocean drained away. Compression within the earth pushed up the area within the past ten to twelve million years. Erosion began to wear away the softer sedimentary rock, exposing parts of the hard limestone of the Capitan Reef. In a process that continues today, runoff from the old reef began to deposit salt on the flats now west of the park boundaries. Imagine, this desert like environment was once a sea!
The next morning we drove the by-ways to Heugo Tanks. What was very interesting about the drive is there were miles of pipeline being layed and many drilling rigs being installed. Janice’s brother Brian, who was on an oil rig as a geologist in his early years, said after seeing pictures that all the rigs were for re-drilling existing wells. There is now lots of work going on in the oil and gas business in this part of the country.
We arrived at Hueco Tanks about 1pm. Heugo Tanks State Park is near El Paso Texas, this is a MUST stop for an overnight or if you are traveling by for a day hike.
You need to know some background on this state park. It is more than a park it is a historic site being preserved by the state of Texas. There is a rich history dating back over 10,00 years ago. Hunters and Gatherers have been traveling across this landscape that long as can be seen by the geometric designs that are painted on the rocks. This area is special due to the creation of massive granite rocks and formations that were exposed thousands of years ago. Hollows (huccos) and fracture patterns created places to capture rain water hence Huego Tanks,and create a relatively moist environment. The water along with the shade and pockets of fertiltes” that support of diversity of living things soil create “micorhabitates” . In addition to many plants and animals that do not usually live in the desert environment there are freshwater shrimp. We walked on the paths for self guided tours to see the pictographs.
Here is one that they think is more recent from Indian wars, here is what it looks like today and what they think it originally looked like.
The next time we come, and we will, we will do a guided tour (Wednesday through Saturday), it was amazing and we only saw a small part of the paintings and wildlife.
There are over 200 masks in the rocks, many of these you can only see on the guided tour. The campsite was excellent and John even did some TRX exercise as he has done at many of our stops. We spend a quiet night at the bottom of the rocks. We know that this is a spot we will return to on our next adventure out west. After a good night sleep we were heading out of Texas to Janice’s friend Marty’s place in Sedona Arizona.