Waco, Texas Part III

This is the continuation and final post of our stay in Waco, Texas, during March 2018.

George W. Bush Presidential Center

George W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library

An hour and a half drive from Waco brought us to the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. At the Southern Methodist University, the Center houses the 43rd president’s library and museum, the George W. Bush Policy Institute, and the G. W. Bush Foundation offices on a 23-acre site of the Southern Methodist University near Dallas.

Included in the 23 acres is a 15- acre park and gardens that are open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. The park consists of native prairie grasses, seasonal wildflowers, and native habitats for butterflies, birds, and other species. Had we not been anxious to beat the commuter rush, we would have spent time wandering around the park.

Quote from George W. Bush’s Inaugural Address

One of the first exhibits visitors encounter inside the building is the 360-degree, 20-foot-tall high definition video wall in Freedom Hall. The video blends art, history, and entertainment through a variety of scenes that morph from one to the other. Some people might get dizzy from looking up at the videos too long. Railings to hang on to are not available like they had at Disneyland’s America the Beautiful theater in Tomorrow Land.

While gazing up at the video I noticed this geometric wood paneled skylight.

Skylight inside George W. Bush Library and Museum

The first stop, once we entered the museum, was the introductory video in the theater that was already in process. We decided to go back later to view it and continued along the path. We walked around a corner and in the middle of a circular area two twisted steel beams—remnants from the twin towers—rose from the floor and held in place by cables attached to the ceiling. A half circle of monitors ran film clips of planes flying into the towers, explosions and fire, the collapse of the towers, people running through the debris that fell, news reporters trying to make sense of what was happening.

Remnants from the Twin Towers

All the emotions I felt the morning of September 11, 2001, while I watched the events unfold on my television came flooding back. For weeks after that date, nothing else mattered to me except being close to my family. Work became insignificant and had no meaning. Tears welled up anytime I saw a flag hanging from an overpass, posted to the sides of houses, or flying from the back of a fire truck. My heart still ached for the men, women, and children that died and for the family and friends left behind without their mothers, fathers, sisters, or brothers. I averted my eyes the best I could and headed for other exhibits.

Education Reform Exhibit

Displays on George Bush’s significant legislation turned out to be less threatening to my mental state. No Child Left Behind, the passage of Medicare Part D, Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act reminded me of all the good Bush did during his presidency. While Tax relief and the Iraq war made me long for the surplus Bill Clinton handed Bush before his inauguration and which blossomed out of control by the end of his two terms.

Economic Growth and Tax Relief Exhibit
Social Programs Exhibit
In Pursuit of Liberty and Hope for All Humanity
Importance of Volunteerism

After peeking in at the full-size replica of the oval office and the exhibit featuring Laura Bush, Jon and I returned to watch the video. What was the first image plastered on the screen? The horrible event of 9/11. With no escape, I let my emotions wash over me until the film switched to other topics.

One of the Exhibits in the Laura Bush Section of the Museum

We took a break and ate lunch at Café 43 (named for the 43rd President) where they offered a wide selection of soups and salads, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts. Then we visited the First Ladies: Style of Influence exhibit running from March 1 to October 1, 2018. Each of the country’s first ladies was featured with photos and biographies.

I zeroed in on the Lou Hoover display because of her connection to the Girl Scouts, a group I participated in for a number of years as a young girl. She helped Juliette Gordon Low establish the national organization and served in many capacities between 1917 and 1929. Her duties even included troop leader in both Washington D.C. and Palo Alto, California, the locations of both of her residences.

Lou Hoover Active in Girl Scouts Organization

Early scouts had more to do besides taking cookie orders and delivering them. They even had to bake them. I wonder if they earned a badge for demonstrating their baking and selling skills. Edith Wilson became the first first lady to serve as the honorary president of the Girl Scouts in 1917, and each first lady since has been invited to serve in that capacity.

How Many Boxes of Cookies Would You Like?

Waco, Texas Wrap Up

And now it’s time to conclude our time in Waco, Texas. We kept busy while there and look forward to returning someday. It will be fun to see what new renovations the city will undergo in this down-home western town that treasures its history, where people are friendly, and restaurants are plentiful.

Speaking of restaurants, we had the pleasure of visiting three while in Waco. At Buzzard Billy’s, I enjoyed the red beans and rice while Jon dug into his andouille sausage. The food was tasty, but the best part was the view of the Brazos River and suspension bridge from our table.

We also ate Bon Mi sandwiches at The Clay Pot, a Vietnamese restaurant on Franklin Avenue in downtown and Taqueria El Mexicano Grill served up good Mexican food for lunch.

In case I didn’t include enough photos, here are a few of the buildings in downtown that are representative of the architecture in the historic district.

McClennan County Courthouse Listed on National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Built in 1901 in the Neoclassic Style.
A Bank of America Branch once Occupied 514 Austin Avenue Located within the Waco Downtown Historic District
Magnolia is not the Only Design Firm in Town
The Poles and Wires Ruin the View of the Beautiful First Baptist Church of Waco at 500 Webster
Love the Architectural Detail of the First Baptist Church of Waco
It Seemed as Though all the Windows Contained Stained Glass

Next up we start our trek back to California making stops along the way in Texas and New Mexico.

Safe Travels

Waco, Texas – Part II

Dr Pepper Museum

We are always ready to take a behind the scenes tour and the Dr Pepper Museum did not disappoint.

View of the Silos and Roof of First Baptist Church of Waco (above Dr Pepper sign) From Dr Pepper Building

Dr Pepper, created, manufactured, and sold in Waco, Texas, beginning in 1885, is considered the oldest soft drink of all America major brands. The soda flavor originated at Morrison’s Old Corner Drugstore.

Mockup of Old Corner Drug Store

Unfortunately, the name Dr Pepper is lost to history, although the museum does have a collection of over a dozen different origin stories. Demand for the drink grew until in 1891 the Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Company was formed in Waco. The company later became the Dr Pepper Company and moved to Dallas in 1923.

Jon Checking out the Bottling Equipment
Artesian Well Once Used in Bottling Dr Pepper

The museum includes collections of the soft drink industry as well as Dr Pepper memorabilia, giving visitors a more complete history of the industry.

Larger Scale Bottling Equipment

We stopped in the theater expecting an informational movie. Instead, we found a montage of historic television ads running on a loop. It was still fun to recall the various campaigns and slogans through the years. Remember, “I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?” Sorry, for the earworm. I couldn’t resist.


I don’t drink much soda now, but visiting the museum brought back memories of drinking hot Dr Pepper and eating popcorn while watching scary movies on late night television. The cold war may have been looming outdoors, but I was warm and safe in my house.

Dr Pepper Delivery Truck

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 for adults, $8.00 for seniors and military personnel, $6.00 for students and children over 5 years.

Homestead Heritage

Homestead Heritage, an agrarian- and craft-based intentional Christian community, was located a short distance from the RV park where we stayed in Waco.

Water Tower with Homestead Heritage Logo

Visitors won’t want to miss the Craft Village where gifts and handcrafted items are available to purchase along with heirloom furniture; organic grains, flour and baking mixes; groceries, meat and produce; and gardening and homesteading supplies.

Homestead Organic Market and General Store

Take a self-guided tour through the various buildings and watch a basket maker or potter at work, a loom in operation, the gristmill grinding, and feel the heat from the forge. The smell of fresh sawdust in the woodworking building reminded me of my grandfather’s carpentry workshop.

Homestead Gristmill at the Craft Village
Inside the Working Gristmill
Water Wheel that Runs the Gristmill

Walk through the gardens, rest in the shade, and get up close to the sheep grazing in the pasture.

Windmill and Sheep
Tri-colored Sheep
The Basket Store
The Forge

Interested in learning the skills to create traditional crafts? Visit The Ploughshare website for hands-on workshops, classes, and DVD courses. There are also free video courses.

Red Bud in Bloom

It was a good thing the storage in our fifth wheel is limited. Otherwise, I would have broken our budget by buying up pottery, baskets, and a few scarves. We did buy a package of Cowboy Cookie Mix from the Gristmill and they were delicious.

Magnolia Market at the Silos

Fans of the Fixer Upper show on HGTV flock to Magnolia Market at the Silos on foot and by trolley, bike, and vehicle. We parked the truck near a trolley stop and hopped aboard. The trolley takes passengers on a 15-minute route through downtown Waco picking up and dropping off passengers along the way. Our driver pointed out popular restaurants, historical sites, and of course places to shop.

Magnolia Silos Courtyard

We got off at Magnolia Market just because we had to see what all the fuss was about. A line wrapped around the corner bakery with hopeful guests dreaming of the fresh pastries, breads, and sweets that waited inside for them to buy.

Long Waits for Pastries at the Bakery

We didn’t stand in line to see if it was worth the wait. Instead, we headed into the market, squeezing past customers gawking at the products for sale. Many of the items looked like props used to decorate the homes renovated on the Fixer Upper television show. Don’t expect antique, reclaimed, or locally handcrafted items. Made in India or China tags reveal an item’s origin.

Magnolia Market Building

The store was filled with decorator items such as greenery and flowers for arrangements in vases and pots, table items including centerpieces, placemats, table runners, chargers, flatware, and dishware. Clocks and other wall hangings decorate the walls. Chip’s Corner includes T-shirts, baseball caps, hammers, and other tools and books. Prices appeared reasonable when compared to other home décor stores.

One Section of the Building

Outside visitors will find a large sitting and play area complete with lawn games to play on the artificial grass, picnic tables under shade structures, planters, and food trucks in case the munchies attack.

The Silos Play Area. No Dogs Allowed on the Artificial Grass.
Snag a Beanbag and Rest Awhile
Play a Game of Cornhole
Grab Lunch and a Drink at the Food Trucks

In a back corner is the Magnolia Seed & Supply with raised gardens filled with herbs and leafy greens. I wish our garden looked like this. Of course, that would mean we would have to stay home and tend to it. Maybe when we’re done traveling.

Magnolia Seed & Supply


Leafy Greens Grown in Raised Beds


Magnolia Market at the Silos is a great place for couples or families looking for a place to relax, grab a bite to eat, play a few rounds of cornhole, or watch the people walk by. Oh, and don’t forget the shopping. Storage constraints saved my pocketbook again. I could have easily spent a hundred dollars or more.

It looks like the Dr Pepper Museum, traditional handicrafts, and home décor is all I can fit into this post. Next week I’ll finish up our time in Waco by featuring a couple of restaurants we tried in town and our visit to the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas.

Safe Travels

Waco, Texas – Part I

Waco, Texas, Home of Baylor University, had more to see than what we thought at first. Tourists can gawk at a preserved mammoth dig, learn about the Texas Rangers, watch artisans at work, shop for decorative household items, grab a soda at the Dr. Pepper Museum, and enjoy one of the restaurants in town.

Waco Suspension Bridge Originally Built in 1870

We kept busy during our five-night stay at Post Oak RV Park and Cabins in Waco, Texas. We even managed to fit in a drive to Dallas to see the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

American-Amicable Life Insurance Company (ALICO) 22-story Steel and Concrete Building Completed in 1911 – Waco Landmark

All of these locations are too much for one post, so this week we’ll take a look at the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum and the Waco Mammoth National Park and leave the rest for next week.

Baylor University McLane Stadium Seen From Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is located across the parking lot from the Waco Visitor Center where tourists will find friendly helpful staff who possess a wealth of information and are eager to assist travelers.

Texas Ranger Statue in Front of Hall of Fame and Museum

Although the Texas Rangers weren’t officially recognized in legislation until 1874, several iterations of rangers date back to 1823 when Stephen F. Austin formed a militia to protect settlements against Indian raids. Early rangers were required to supply their own horses and equipment and often worked as volunteers because the government did not always pay them for their services.

We started our tour of the museum by watching the movie that told of the ranger history. The movie didn’t shy away from dishing out stories about the bad rangers along with the stories of the men who are regarded as heroes.

The museum is filled with displays of guns, hats, and boots. What impressed me the most about the museum was the workmanship that went into engraving the barrels and handgrips on the weapons. Unfortunately, the lighting was not ideal for taking photos.

As I walked around reading the various bios of the rangers, one of them caught my attention when I noticed a connection to the San Francisco Bay Area and Apache Pass. The San Francisco Bay Area is where we call home and we had recently hiked at Apache Pass to get to the Fort Bowie National Park in Arizona. I had to learn more.

John Coffee Hays began work as an assistant to a land surveyor at the age of 15 after his parents died. Drawn to Texas in 1836 after the territory declared independence from Mexico, he joined the Texas Rangers and continued working as a surveyor for the next 13 years. During that time, Texas became a state (December 29, 1845), war with Mexico broke out (April 25, 1846 – February 2, 1848), and John Hays was elected as the county surveyor and promoted to the rank of major. He encountered many skirmishes with Mexicans and Native Americans alike while conducting surveys or working with the Rangers.

John Coffee Hays*

Like many men throughout the United States during 1849, gold fever attracted Mr. Hays to California. Appointed as US Indian Agent for the Gila River country in New Mexico and Arizona, he led a wagon train of forty-niners to California from Texas, blazing a shortcut between Tucson and Mesilla by traveling through Apache Pass. When he arrived in San Francisco, his reputation had preceded him and residents drafted Hays to run for the newly authorized sheriff position. He won the election handily, but his term as sheriff was not without difficulty. He had to contend with a group of vigilantes and hold prisoners in a makeshift jail. He resigned shortly after his second term began and, with his deputy, purchased real estate across the bay, eventually becoming one of the founders of the City of Oakland.

Some of the stories of Ranger Hays’s exploits read more like a dime novel than a fact-based portrayal. Was it possible for 12 rangers to fight off an attack by 200 Mexican guerillas with no loss of life? Or, was the report of the incident riddled with hyperbole? Either way, John Coffee Hays impressed me with all he accomplished during his life. It seems he earned and deserved all the respect people had for him.

Visit the museum any day from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Entrance fee is $8.00 for adults with a $1.00 discount for seniors 60 or over and military with an ID. The fee for children 6 – 12 is $4.00.

Waco Mammoth National Monument

Now let’s travel back in time 65,000 to 100,000 years ago to the Ice Age when Columbian mammoths roamed North America as far south as Costa Rica. The beasts, standing 13 feet (4 m) at the shoulders and weighing 22,000 pounds (10 tonnes), would barely fit under a typical freeway overpass of today, which stands at 17 feet.

Trail from Visitor Center to Mammoth Dig Site

It is hard to imagine that a flash flood could be responsible for the demise of a group of female and juvenile mammoths, but that is what archaeologists believe could have caused their deaths. Did the water rush in undercutting the soil where the mammoths stood and then they sank? Was the water more powerful than the 22,000-pound Columbian mammoths? I wonder if it felt like when I stand at the edge of the beach and let the sand give way under my feet when waves rush in and out.

Inside the Climate-Controlled Shelter

Back to modern times, imagine stomping around the banks of the Bosque River and stumbling over a mammoth bone. That’s what happened when two men searching for arrowheads and fossils discovered a large bone at the location in 1978.

Tusks and Bones Lay  in Place Where Unearthed by Archeologists

From 1978 to 1990 the Strecker Museum at Baylor University discovered 16 mammoths (a nursery herd that died together in a single event). Between 1990 and 1997 where a large male, two female, two juveniles and a camel were located.

Female Mammoth Remains

The site was opened to the public in 2009 when a climate-controlled shelter was erected to protect the bones and allow the general public to view the site.

Ancient Camel Found Near the Mammoths

When President Obama designated the site as a National Monument in 2015, the city deeded the 5-acre dig site to the federal government but retained 100 acres around it for future park-related development.

A depiction of a Columbia Mammoth Noted by its Top Knot

The City of Waco, Baylor University, and the National Park Service operate the site in partnership, which is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except major federal holidays. The guided tour fee ranges from free to $5.00 depending on grade level, age, or use of available discounts.

That concludes the first installment of Waco, Texas. We’ll be back next week with more sights to see.

Safe Travels

*Permission for photo use granted by Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum Source: http://www.texasranger.org/texas-ranger-museum/hall-of-fame/john-coffee-jack-hays/