Fredericksburg TX

Sunny and warm weather, with only a hint of a breeze, welcomed us to Quiet Creek RV in Fredericksburg on February 16, 2017. National Museum of the Pacific War, here we come.

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The museum, composed of 55,000 square feet with 33,000 square foot occupied by the George H. W. Bush Gallery, chronicles the Pacific War from the “seeds of conflict to the signing of the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.” Artifacts include one of the five Japanese midget subs used at Pearl Harbor, a B-25 bomber, Japanese Float Plane, Admiral’s Barge, and Atomic bomb casing. The sub display transported us to Pearl Harbor. As old war footage flashed on a wall, the darkness, sirens, and a streak of light across the floor simulating a torpedo made it all come alive.

The Smithsonian-like museum allows visitors to immerse themselves in each battle fought during the war with detailed descriptions of the ships involved, and personal stories of both men and women of various nationalities.

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Displays in the Museum Explain the Ships and Battles
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Bataan & Corregidor Room
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WWII B 25 Bomber
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Admiral’s Barge

Outside, the conning tower of the USS Pintado submarine nestles within the landscape giving the impression of a submarine navigating the ocean waves. Other artifacts include a torpedo tube and anti-aircraft guns.

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USS Pintado Submarine Conning Tower
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Mark 15 Torpedo Tube Rear
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Mark 15 Torpedo Tube Front and Side
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Anti-Aircraft Gun

Wall plaques and bricks memorialize those who fought during the war in the Veterans’ Walk of Honor and Memorial Wall next to the building.

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Essex-Class Aircraft Carrier Screw in the Veteran’s Walk of Honor and Memorial Wall

The Japanese Garden of Peace—gifted to the museum by the Japanese government in May 1976 to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the founding of Fredericksburg—provides a tranquil respite to shake off any emotions that may overcome visitors to the museum, the Walk of Honor, and Memorial Wall.

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Japanese Garden of Peace

Visitors follow Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s life and career at the Admiral Nimitz Museum, housed in the Nimitz Hotel, established in 1860 by his great-grandfather, and later owned by his grandfather. The San Francisco Bay Area also honored Admiral Nimitz by naming Interstate 880 after the man who retired there and lived on Yerba Buena Island. I have to say, that the museum is a far better tribute to the man.

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Admiral Nimitz Museum

Within in walking distance, re-enactments, also known as living history exhibits, are staged throughout the year at The Pacific Combat Zone, a re-creation of a Pacific island battlefield. We watched behind a fence for a few minutes as reenactors trained for their upcoming presentation for spectators who watch from the safety of the stands under the curved metal roof.

 

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Combat Zone Complex
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Combat Zone Complex

 

So why is the Pacific War Museum located in Fredericksburg? Local residents established the Admiral Nimitz Foundation to honor Fredericksburg’s native son, commander-in-chief of Allied Forces in the Pacific Ocean area. When approached, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz insisted that the organization honor all the men and women who served, not just him. The foundation heeded his request and developed an excellent museum and research center to honor all those affected by the war.

It is a good thing that tickets provide admission for two days because there is so much to see. One day is not enough to soak up all the history at the museum.

Saturday, our last full day, seemed like a good time to enjoy nature and a hike at the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. We got up early, packed a lunch, and set out intent on beating the rush and snag a parking spot. The warning light near town flashed that the park had already closed. Oh, well, maybe we’ll get lucky. As we approached the entrance to the park, several cars waited to enter on the opposite side of the road. Maybe the line isn’t too long. We drove on passing cars, vans, SUVs, and trucks for a quarter mile, half a mile, a mile, on and on for at least two miles or more. Vehicles crowded close to the shoulder to avoid blocking the road when they could, and others crossed the double yellow line and headed toward us in our lane when the road narrowed. We made a U-turn and headed back to town, settling on a little urban hiking instead. We’ll schedule our visit to Enchanted Rock during a weekday if we travel through here again. I managed to capture this photo as we drove by.

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We would have rather eaten our lunch at the Enchanted Rock, but a shaded picnic table at the visitors’ center turned out to be a great place to people watch as they jockeyed for parking spots. At the visitors’ center, we watched a movie about the history of Fredericksburg. Then we walked up and down the historic district of W. Main Street, stopped in at The Christmas Store to buy an ornament to remember our trip, and toured the Pioneer Museum.

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InSight Gallery Located in a Restored 12,000 sq. ft. 1907 Building
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More Historic Buildings
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Pioneer Memorial Library
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Gillespie County Court House

 

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Eagle Tree Carving

Blooms and buds gave signs that spring would soon arrive.

 

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Flowering Shrub

 

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Budding Tree

 

Pioneer Museum and Historical Site

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Sunday Houses Plaque

 

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Weber Sunday House

 

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Fredericksburg Volunteer Fire Memorial

 

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Little Squirt

 

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White Oak School House
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Fassel – Roeder House and Windmill Water Pumps
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Kammlaha House
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Windmill Water Pumps

There is much more to explore in Fredericksburg, and I’m sure we’ll be back this way again to stay longer. For now, we had to move on.

Safe Travels

Austin TX

Traveling in an RV with no reservations gives us the freedom to leave a place early if we aren’t enamored with our surroundings, or extend our stay if we have more to see. In some locations, no reservations can mean no place to stay. Such was the case around Austin TX. After several phone calls, we lucked out procuring a concrete slab spot at Longhorn RV Resort in Niederwald TX, a tiny town south of Austin, for a few nights starting Sunday, February 12, 2017.

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Sunset Across the Pond at Longhorn RV Resort

The advertised Wi-Fi access at most campgrounds rarely provides enough juice to download our email. Longhorn’s good-for-email-only Wi-Fi could not even deliver that. Tengointernet to the rescue. My photos backed up quicker than I could process them on the laptop with high-speed access to the internet that matched our home service. I’ll gladly pay an extra fee for service that is that fast.

Apparently, breakfast tacos and burritos are a big deal in Texas. I often make tacos for lunch out of our dinner leftovers, but I had never thought to stuff a tortilla with eggs and such. On Monday, a good review from the resort staff, lead us to H & Aleyn’s for their two breakfast tacos for $2 special. While we waited for our order, I grew skeptical when the waitress brought out our decaf coffee. The scant contents of the Folgers jar she set on the table next to the two mugs of steaming water had clumped together at the bottom. Jon had to do the shake, shake, shake it dance to break up the crystals of freeze-dried coffee. After my first sip of the instant brew, my skepticism disappeared. It wasn’t as good as our freshly ground beans coffee, but it wasn’t bad. And the breakfast tacos? The house made tortillas wrapped around a mixture of fluffy eggs, potatoes, chorizo, onions, and bell pepper were the perfect start for a long day of sightseeing.

Our destination for the day was the LBJ National and State Parks to see LBJ’s birth home, where he grew up with his family, and the ranch where he and Lady Bird made their life together. The parks are located in two different areas. The Lyndon Johnson boyhood home is located in Johnson City TX, about 14 miles east of the ranch, also known as the Texas White House, near Stonewall TX.

We started out with a tour of the boyhood home in Johnson City, a town founded by his uncle, James Polk Johnson. Lyndon moved here with his family at age five. The left side of the house includes a porch where Lyndon’s mother, Rebekah Baines Johnson, taught her five children the finer points of debate, oratory, and public service.

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Front Entrance to Johnson Boyhood Home

One might say this was a house divided. Rebekah not only taught her children on the porch on the left side of the house, she also entertained her friends there and in the parlor. The bedroom for the three girls also occupied that side of the house. The men took over the right side of the house where Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., Lyndon’s father, a state representative for 12 years, met with his constituents and fellow businessmen. The house is quite small for a family of seven by today’s standards.

Lyndon Johnson’s birth home located on the ranch property.

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Lyndon Johnson’s Birth Home

The tour of the ranch was the highlight. The house appeared small as we walked up to the gate where the tour began. Lyndon’s office, added to the original structure in 1958, is the single story portion on the left side of the photo. The contents displayed in the office are items that Johnson used throughout his lifetime and includes his desk and chair, three televisions, phones, typewriter, teletype, and other artifacts. Lyndon Johnson’s attitude is summed up on an embroidered pillow with the saying, “This is my ranch and I do as I damn please.” The pillow sits on a leather chair with the presidential seal on the headrest.

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LBJ Ranch House. Office at the Left.

The park service does not allow photography inside the house. The furnishings are of the 1960s and nothing fancy, but homey and comfortable. What we found of interest were the three television sets in LBJ’s office, living room, dining room, and bedroom and also numerous phones throughout the house. The bedroom also included bright lighting to allow him to read late at night.

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Expansive View of House
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Ranch Road
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Sweeping Lawn and Pedernales River View from House
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Firetruck
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Airforce 1/2
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Greetings, My Fellow Americans
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Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson Headstones
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Johnson’s Aquacar Used to Scare Guests
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Lyndon Crossed the Pedernales River with Guests in His Aquacar

By the time we finished the tour, our breakfast tacos had worn off and our stomachs needed filling. We decided the 15-mile drive into Fredericksburg wasn’t too far to travel for an early dinner. Otto’s German Bistro, a quaint restaurant with a menu that changes each week, turned out to be a perfect pick for a meal. We gazed out from our window seats at the National Museum of the Pacific War and wondered why in the world there was a museum about the Pacific War in Fredericksburg TX. Too bad it had closed by the time we finished our dinner. As we drove through town to get a flavor of the place, I wished we could stay awhile and explore this historic town in the hill country. Maybe some day.

Loop drives always seem like a good idea to me because we get to see more. Our GPS pointed out a route that seemed more straightforward than having to retrace the one that brought us to Fredericksburg. What an adventure we had as we raced the sunset to return home on farm-to-market roads through the hills. As dusk turned to dark, our confidence in the route guided by the GPS waned as it directed us to turn right here. Turn left there, and continue along this road as if in a circle. Obviously, we made it even though thoughts of driving all night on farm roads whirled in my head.

We rounded out our stay near Austin TX with a visit to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and a quick tour of the Texas State Capitol. We had never visited a presidential library before. After visiting this one, we are adding them to our list of places to see on future trips.

I was still attending grade school when Johnson took office after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and never understood the impact he had on America through his vision of a Great Society. We have Johnson to thank—or curse depending on your political bent—for Medicare, PBS, college financial aid, the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, and even seat belts in our cars.

The archives are a historian’s treasure trove of documents, photographs, recordings, and moving image records.

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Great Hall with View of Glass Encased Walls Containing Archived Items
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Oval Office Display
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Oval Office Display
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Oval Office Display
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A Phone Available At All Times
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Lady Bird Johnson Portrait
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Lady Bird Johnson Office
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Lady Bird Johnson Desk Items
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On the Left, the Washington Monument is Reflected in the Vietnam Wall

We caught one of the last docent-led tours of the day at The Texas State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark. The docent provided information on the history of the building and pointed out tidbits about the paintings, symbols, and renovations. Originally built in 1888, the Italian Renaissance Revival style building underwent a major restoration and expansion beginning in 1990.

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Texas State Capitol
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Original Hinges Used in Renovation
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House Chambers
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Desk in Senate Chambers
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Texas One and Indivisible
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Texas State Capitol Dome From Open Air Rotunda

Austin has to go back on our future travel list. After 5 days, we barely dipped our toes in all that Austin has to offer visitors. Time to move on to our new location. The National Museum of the Pacific War called out for us to solve the mystery regarding its placement in Texas. Fredericksburg, here we come.

Safe Travels