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A Quiet Day in Austin, Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 14, 2011 - 2:52 pm No Comments

We spent an hour at the Austin Java again this morning trying to get the blog set up.   I will not make another trip without having a verizon card for my computer.   Depending on WIFI from others does NOT work!

We spent the morning at the Sycamore, the group of townhouses that Ben has chosen.   They will start building his townhome by the end of November.    He is very excited to be a home owner.   These townhouses are not connected which is good—they are very modern, each has three levels and he can use the third level for his office.   The middle section is two bedrooms and two baths, and the bottom level has the kitchen, half bath, and living area.  The patio is out back.   He will have a carport and a single garage.   So he’s anxious to get going with it.   Greg looked around and asked a few questions but he seems to think it is nice.   This is a great relief to Ben!   Ben has made decisions on colors, and he’s in the process of choosing the hardwood for the floors.

For lunch we went to a little cafe called “Foodheads” and had a great sandwich.   Austin has the most independent food places we’ve ever seen.   Great little cafes and lots of outside dining available.   It’s really a great city for Ben.   He loves it already.

Ben plays in a kickball league and had a game tonight so we called it an early evening after dinner.  Stay tuned.  Bonnie


LBJ Library and the Texas State Capitol, Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 12, 2011 - 7:29 am 1 Comment

This morning Greg and I went back over to the Austin Java to get a cup of coffee and catch up on the blog.   This is a real pain in the neck NOT to have WIFI in the campground.   But on the positive side, we are getting to know the waitresses at the Austin Java really well.   One waitress looks exactly like Cheryl on “Dancing with the Stars”.   She’s a cutie pie.

Ben had a business meeting this morning so we hung around the RV park until he picked us up around 11:30 a.m.   I made several phone calls this morning to make appointments for next week when we are home.   My hairdresser was top of the list.   We both really need haircuts, as we usually do when we return from a long trip.

We had lunch at one of the “lunch trailers” around Austin.   Austin has made a science of the lunch trailers.   They move all around town in lots designated for them and there are several trailers in each lot.  Plenty of parking spaces.   Sandwiches, tacos, desserts, kabobs, anything you can eat, you can find in a trailer.   And the price is right, and the food is very good.    We got some great soft tacos at “Torchy’s Tacos”; actually they were fajitas wrapped in a flour tortilla.   And we had some of the best chips and guacomole/salsa we’ve ever had.   Everything is homemade right there on the spot and after we made our order, we sat down at one of many picnic tables.    They brought our food to the table and we enjoyed an outdoor meal.   You won’t believe the temperature was 86 degrees today, so we are in shorts for the day.

After lunch we visited the LBJ Library, which is on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.   Ben was very interested in the history during the 60’s and how things have changed in America since then.   We saw a lot of gifts that were given to the Johnsons while they were in the White House, and a lot of documents from that era pertaining to the Viet Nam War and civil rights demonstrations, etc.

After the Library, we visited the State Capitol which was a beautiful and elegant building.    When we were walking out the door, Ben ran into a tour group of high school students from Japan.   He started talking with them and when he told them (in Japanese) he attended the International Christian University in Tokyo in 1999, they were very impressed.   The students grinned and wanted their photos taken with him.   So we all stood around while Ben talked with the students in Japanese.   It’s always fun to see the interaction.   From their responses, it seems he can still speak Japanese fluently.

We spent some time at Ben’s apartment after our tours and rested while he did some work.   We had dinner tonight in south Austin which is a hip and happening part of Austin.   The restaurant, Botocelli’s, was really authentic italian food and we enjoyed it.    We now know why Ben has fallen in love with Austin.    The weather is still awesome, lots of open air restaurants, people walking around, shops open late, and those food trailers are everywhere!!!!   After dinner we looked at the trailers, ice cream, cupcakes, everything imaginable, and Greg and Ben had an “ice cream house”.    It’s a homemade ice cream sandwich, with you choosing the cookies that make the “house”, and your choice of  ice cream.

Tomorrow we meet with the realtors to finalize Ben’s color choices, tile, hardwood, etc.   He’s very excited about being a first time home owner.

Stay tuned.   Bonnie

Fredericksburg, Texas, and the Lyndon Johnson Ranch, Monday October 10, 2011

October 11, 2011 - 8:07 am 1 Comment

Can you believe our RV Park does not have WIFI?    We have cable TV and everything else, but there is no WIFI.   So this morning after breakfast we took the laptop a couple of doors down to the “Austin Java” and had a cup of coffee while we used their WIFI.   But we really like the park.   It’s by no means modern, in reality, it is very old, as in probably built in 1950 or so.   But the people around us are very friendly and we feel very safe; it’s quiet and close to Ben.

I had a lot of blogging to do since we’ve not had WIFI since last Thursday.   We worked on the blog for a couple of hours and then Ben came over to get us to start our day.   The weather is a little overcast but the temperature is very good.

We drove northeast of Austin to Fredericksburg, which is a little German influenced town.   We found a restaurant that served authentic German food, so Ben and I chose something German and Greg had a club sandwich.   He’s not very adventurous.   After lunch we walked around town and Greg actually purchased his first item from this trip (except for the slide whistle)—a beautiful leather belt.   After we had our fill of shopping, we stopped at the Lyndon Johnson Ranch for a tour.   This is a state park and you can actually do a driving tour of part of the property.   There is a total of nearly 2500 acres but only about 600 belong to the park service.   The rest is still in the family.   This property belonged to a long line of President Johnson’s ancestors and he loved it more than anything.   He lived only a few years after he left office and died here at his beloved ranch.   He and most of his family are buried on the property.   The plane given to LBJ was called “Air Force one-half) rather than Air Force One.   Air Force One flew into Austin, and

After touring the grounds we had a tour of the house where they lived.   I must say I was a bit disappointed in the tour because we only saw two or three rooms, and you couldn’t use your camera inside the house.   Since Lady Bird died only in 2007, they are still getting most of the rooms in the house ready for touring.  We only saw his office, a den, and living room.

After our afternoon of touring we stopped at a famous restaurant outside of Austin called the Salt Lick.   I saw the Food Channel do a story about this restaurant.   It was founded in 1967 and has been a mainstay in the area ever since.  The barbeque pit was beautiful with all the meats smoking inside the restaurant.   Ben’s friend Dusti stopped by and joined us for a terrific dinner of smoked turkey, sausages, and ribs.

Ben dropped us off at our RV around 7:00 p.m. and we were whipped for the day.  Just enough energy to watch two hours of “Dancing with the Stars”.  LOL

Stay tuned.  Not sure what all we will do tomorrow.   Bonnie

Dinner at salt lick

October 10, 2011 - 3:42 pm 1 Comment

We ate at the famous salt lick with Ben and Dusti!


Goodby Ada, Hello Austin, Sunday October 9, 2011

October 10, 2011 - 7:53 am No Comments

This morning we had another wonderful breakfast of pancakes before we left Ed and Judy.   We had such a greatl visit with them and we all vowed we would see each other again soon.
We drove through some much needed rain today and arrived in Austin around 4:00 p.m.   Ben guided us to his apartment and then led us over to our campground for the week, the Pecan Grove RV Park.  This is a funky little park near downtown Austin.   Several years ago, Matthew McConnehey kept his airstream trailer here.
Ben followed us over to the campground and when we got settled, we went over to his apartment to have a little tour.   Then we drove over to the complex where Ben is going to purchase a condominium being built in the next couple of months.  He’s very excited about being a first time homeowner and we enjoyed touring the complex.
After our tour, we had dinner at a nice little restaurant called the Eastside Café.   Ben brought us back to the park around 8:30 p.m.   Tomorrow we will drive over to Fredericksburg and hopefully visit LBJ’s ranch near there.
Stay tuned.  Bonnie

An Emotional Day at the Oklahoma City National Museum and Memorial

October 10, 2011 - 7:43 am No Comments

After a good night’s sleep, we awoke to Ed and Judy cooking breakfast out on the patio.   We had a good breakfast of bacon, eggs, grits, biscuits and gravy and we enjoyed the beautiful start of the day.

We drove about an hour north to Oklahoma City to visit the museum dedicated to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVey.   The museum is in Journal Record Building, which is the building next door to the Murrah Building.  The Journal Record Building, which sustained some damage in the explosion, was left standing.  It is currently on the National Historic Register.   The museum is very well done with an exhibit that guides you from the first moments of the explosion to the aftermath.   Many survivors tell their story on video.   Family members who lost family tell their stories on video.   You experience the chaos of the first frantic minutes after the bombing through detailed artifact cases, showing shoes, glasses, car keys, etc. of the victims.   The most poignant part of the museum is the exhibit dedicated to the children in the day care center who did not survive.  It was very difficult to see this.

The outdoor symbolic memorial is excellent.  The monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction, with the East gate representing 9:01 a.m. and the west gate representing 9:03 a.m.  The reflecting pool occupies what was once Fifth Street where Timothy McVey parked the Ryder truck filled with explosives.   Each of the 168 chairs in The Field of Empty Chairs symbolizes a life lost, with smaller chairs representing the 19 children killed.  The field’s perimeter matches the footprint of the former Murrah Building.   It is lined by a granite path—granite that was salvaged from the Murrah Plaza.

The Survivor Tree, a 90+ year old American Elm, bears witness to the violence of April 19, 1995, and now stands as a profound symbol of human resilience.  The symbolism of the Memorial is one of the best we’ve ever seen.  On our way back to Ed’s house, Ed drove around Norman, Oklahoma, which is the home of the University of Oklahoma and Judy’s alma mater.  Ed is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and believe me, there is some real school pride in this household!!   You’ll see some examples of Ed’s granite work in the monument for James Garner, the movie star from Norman, and the maps of the city carved in the granite.   This evening, Ed got out our old high school yearbooks and we talked about all the friends from Elberton, what they are doing now, etc.

We had a wonderful day with Ed and Judy.   They are great hosts and we felt right at home.  Tomorrow we’ll drive down to Austin, Texas, to visit our youngest son, Ben, for a few days.

Stay tuned.  Bonnie

A visit with my dear friend, Ed Anderson, Friday, October 7, 2011

October 10, 2011 - 7:18 am No Comments

Back to Elberton, Georgia.    From the time we were in kindergarten through the 10th grade, Ed Anderson and I were close friends.    He didn’t live on Carey Street, but he lived on Elm Street, around the corner.   When we were 6 years old and in the first grade, we were chosen to have our photo made by the master photographer in Elberton, Everette Saggus.   The photo was on the front page of the local newspaper, the Elberton Star, on February 14, 1955.   I’m not sure why we were selected from Mrs. Vandiver’s first grade class in Stevens School to have this photo made.    I wore the dress Mother made for my kindergarten graduation (it was a big deal back then).   Ed wore a tuxedo which his aunt made for him.    The gist of the photo was that of celebrating Valentine’s Day.   Neither of us remember much about that day—but we both know it happened because we have the evidence in photos.

When we were about 15 years old, Ed’s Dad, Boadie Anderson, moved the family to Oklahoma to start a granite business.    He was an experienced granite man since Elberton is known as the “granite capital of the world”.    I was totally mystified by this—how can you move a 15 year old to another place so far away????   We were just learning to drive and have some independence, for heavens’ sake!!   I remember being totally horrified that Ed would move so far away—permanently—but I also remember he was very stoic about it, and was determined to make the best of it.   It so happens that Ed has loved his life in Ada since the very beginning, plus he met his future wife,  Judy Noble, while he was in Oklahoma.   During the next several years, Ed and his family came back to Elberton from time to time to visit.   His aunt and grandmother still lived there.   We saw each other during our college days as well.    Then we graduated from college, each of us got married, and started raising our families.   Ed’s Elberton relatives passed away, we moved away, and we didn’t see each other for a long time.   OK, let’s face it, it’s been 40 years.    But when I think of my childhood, Ed Anderson is still an indelible part of it.

When I started planning this trip, I realized we would be in the vicinity of Ada, so I called Ed and we had a great visit over the phone.   We made plans to stop by for a visit.   Ed became business partners with his dad after college, and subsequently took over his Dad’s granite business when his dad passed away and has done a great job with it.  Ed and his wife Judy work harder than anyone we know.  I mean they work 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week as needed.  Ed asked me “what do you DO since you don’t work”.   I say “uh uh uh, well, we do whatever we want with no schedule and no rules”.   Ed says “uh uh uh, I don’t know if I can do that”.     They have built a big business and Judy works beside Ed all the way.  They have two sons, Boadie and John who are also partners in the business.   They each have 3 children, so Ed and Judy now have 6 grandchildren!!!

We arrived at Ed’s granite finishing plant around mid-afternoon.    Ed and Judy greeted us and showed us around the plant and explained their business.    They cut and finish granite monuments and stones from all over the world.  Ed and Judy are also very community minded.   We saw many examples all over town where the Andersons donated the finished granite for a veterans’ memorial as well as many other things.   They are very well known in the community.  They give to their community in various ways because, as Ed says, they have been blessed ten-fold in their lives.  They are very active in their Methodist Church as well.

It was so good to see them.   After we toured his plant, Ed led us over to their home.   They have an absolutely beautiful home on the golf course in Ada.   Ed and Judy designed this home for warmth and fellowship.   It is elegant, but it is also “grandchildren proof”.   Their outside patio is full of granite tables, wooden stools, several table and chair sets, etc.   They have a full outdoor kitchen as well.  I think Ed said they can seat 60 people.   They have a lot of social occasions at their home—last weekend they had their Sunday School Class over for a cookout.   For dinner we walked over to the golf clubhouse and had drinks and dinner with three couples who are their good friends.    We enjoyed their fellowship and Ed and I told hilarious stories from our childhood days.  It’s funny how each of us remember things, sometimes totally differently!   LOL

It was a fun evening and we walked across the golf course home for the evening.

Tomorrow we will go over to Oklahoma City to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, which is the memorial to the victims of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City.

Stay tuned.   Bonnie

Quiet day in El Reno, Oklahoma

October 6, 2011 - 1:41 pm No Comments

No photos today—-we spent the morning in the laundry room!    The wind is really blowing out here—-it blew during the night, not as much as the day, but still a lot of wind.   I wonder does it blow like this all the time?

This afternoon we are reading and doing some housekeeping, getting ready for our visit this weekend with the Ed Anderson family in Ada, Oklahoma.   Will have some photos later to share from the weekend.   We’ll drive over to Ada tomorrow —  about 150 miles.

Stay tuned.  Bonnie

Hello from El Reno, Oklahoma Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 5, 2011 - 1:45 pm 2 Comments

What a night we had last night!   The winds howled all afternoon, then slowed down by bedtime.  But during the night the winds picked up and we rocked and rolled for a while.   If you can picture us out in the middle of nowhere, not a tree in sight, flat as a pancake, and there’s nothing to hold back the wind.    On top of that, I’m still aggravated that this modern park did not have WIFI.

We left the park by 8:3o a.m. and found a Super Walmart for grocery shopping.   Then we stopped at McDonald’s for a cup of coffee.   The clouds were ominous this morning and we had off and on showers as we drove.   Texas and Oklahoma need way more rain than we had, however.   The landscape is dry and you can tell it’s been a while since they’ve had a decent rain.

We were going to stop in Elk City, Oklahoma for the evening but when we pulled into the RV park, we didn’t like the look of it.   I usually have very good luck finding parks using my Good Sam Directory, but this one did not fit the bill.   So I found another park about 70 miles down the road toward Oklahoma City.   So we are in El Reno, Oklahoma for the night, and perhaps Thursday night as well.

We will go to Ada, Oklahoma on Friday to visit a childhood friend of mine from Elberton.   I’ll tell you the story of our friendship later.   We’ll spend a couple of nights with them and then Sunday morning we’ll head down to Austin, Texas to visit our youngest son, Benjamin.

Today’s photos are more sights from Route 66 taken yesterday.  Nothing interesting to photograph today!

Stay tuned.  Bonnie

Gettin’ our kicks on Route 66—Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 5, 2011 - 1:26 pm No Comments

Last night we spent the night in Tucumcari, New Mexico.   I didn’t realize until I did some research that Tucumcari is famous for several iconic relics from the old “Mother Road” Route 66, namely the Blue Swallow Motel.   This motel is a famous icon of Route 66 and had a garage for every room at the motel.  We drove most of the Route 66 from Tucumcari to Amarillo, Texas.   Route 66 is 2,448 total miles (from Los Angeles to Chicago) which became known as the Main Street of America.   Route 66 helped raise a crop of new vocabulary words for the American public:  fast food drive-ins, service stations, convenience stores, strip malls, etc.  Route 66 began in 1926 during a national movement to standardize America’s highways.  Route 66 enjoyed a pop cultural homage of sorts when a television show named “Route 66” came into the baby boomers’  living rooms from 1960 to 1964.  Beginning in 1956 when the federal interstate highway system was spreading across the landscape, Route 66 began to fail and in 1985, Route 66 was decommissioned and passed into history.

The onset of the interstate system virtually killed the small towns directly on Route 66. Travelers preferred the speed of the interstate over the slower Route 66.   But today we enjoyed part of it.   We drove slowly through Tucumcari and took lots of photos of small motels and gas stations from the past.   We drove several portions of Route 66 off and on the interstate.  You can see the remains of many farms and homes.   Some of Route 66 is in very good condition, and some parts are impassable.  So when driving through this area, you are on and off the interstate according to the condition of the road.   Route 66 follows closely I-40 through the top portion of Texas and on into Oklahoma.

We stopped at the Oasis RV Park in Amarillo for the evening.   It truly is an oasis, because it sits in the middle of nowhere, not a sign of a tree in sight.   The wind blew so hard when we arrived (and all afternoon) that we could hardly open the RV door.   No way could we put out our awnings.   But I thought it would be fine for one evening—that is until I tried to log on the internet and found the “WIFI” is seldom available.   How can that be possible?   We are in one of the most modern parks we’ve ever been in, and no WIFI.   What an aggravation!!

We’ll head into Oklahoma tomorrow morning.  Stay tuned.  Bonnie

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