Thursday, March 31, 2016
After waking up at 3:30am, we were all in the car by 4:00 and at the Austin airport at 4:30. Eva, Mary Kay, and Jacque flew back to Colorado to cold and snow, and Maxine and Pat spent all day driving to Pensacola. It was fun driving on Interstates and seeing signs for so many of the towns we walked through, and we also saw a bus going to the Couchatta Casino where we spent a night. It was interesting to cross the Sabine River on Interstate 10 between Texas and Louisiana and see all the areas that were flooded when we were trying to walk through there. There is still a considerable amount of standing water but hard to imagine that the interstate was shut down for a week.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Alice plays the piano for the Junior League of Austin's Playhouse Singers, so we all went with her to the weekly Wednesday morning concert. It was really nice, and we enjoyed meeting her friends and telling them about our adventure. After picking Pat up at the airport, we had a great lunch at the Magnolia Cafe, and went to the movies in the afternoon to see The Lady in the Van starring Maggie Smith. This is what we do on rainy days, and we all thought the film was very good. Tonight we went for a fabulous farewell dinner at La Fonda San Marcos. I think any weight we lost on the walk was regained here in Austin. We again want to thank Alice and Tony for their wonderful hospitality. We had a great time in Austin and loved being members of Alice's tour group.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Alice, our guide extraordinaire, took us on an 11 hour tour of Austin!! First we walked on the hike and bike path, then we drove out to Lake Travis and had lunch at The Oasis overlooking the lake. Even though it was a cloudy day, we enjoyed the great views of the lake. After lunch we drove back to town and around the University of Texas campus where we saw the tower from which Clarles Whitman shot students and then had a great tour of the Capitol Building, learning about Texas history and government. The legislature meets only every other year! Next was a short visit to South Austin where we went into a few eclectic shops before going to a Tex-Mex restaurant for an early dinner. Our day was capped off with a boat ride on the lake to see the Mexican Freetail Bats emerge from under the Congress St Bridge at dusk. It was incredible. There are 750,000 pregnant females who arrive in March and live in the numerous cracks in the bridge. Every evening they leave in a black swarm to hunt for food, and people line the bridge and take boat tours to watch them. In August the babies will be born, and the number will double!! On our way back to the car we were on the hiking trail and came across a girl who had tripped and either fractured or badly sprained her ankle. She did not have her cell phone and did not know her boyfriend's phone number, so we helped get her to the hotel where we parked and then drove her home. Another opportunity for a good deed.
Monday, March 28, 2016
We did not set our alarm for 7am, woke up at 8 and had a leisurely breakfast before packing up. We didn't make sandwiches for lunch or take anything from the breakfast buffet for snacks. After driving for 45 minutes we arrived at the Wimberly Glass Works between San Marcos and Wimberly. Unfortunately, they do not have glass blowing exhibitions on Mondays, but we did visit their showroom and enjoyed their beautiful glass display. Then we were off to Austin to see the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The first thing we did was actually sit down and have lunch in their cafe - quite different from eating in the car or while walking along the road. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking all around the gardens (can't go cold turkey), and we really enjoyed a beautiful day among the wildflowers, trees, trails and exhibits. Lady Bird was quite the environmentalist and did so much for the beautification not only of Texas but also for other national parks in the country. She founded the Wildflower Center with Helen Hayes when she was 70. Bet she would have loved to do the walk with us. After a stop at Starbucks we drove to Maxine's friends, Alice and Tony, where we will stay until Thurs. Many thanks to them for hosting us in their fabulous Austin house. We look forward to touring around with Alice tomorrow.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
We walked halfway across the country!!!!
Our westernmost point was about 40 miles west of Fredericksburg, TX where 290 meets Interstate 10 and at about the same longitude as Abilene. We can't believe we finished as quickly as we did and are very excited with our accomplishment. Now we get to be tourists for a couple of days. After walking today, we toured LBJ's Ranch in Stonewall. We drove and walked around to see his birthplace, the cemetery where he and his family are buried, some guest houses, a church, a video of his life, the hanger and runway that were built after he became president, and we especially liked the tour of the Texas White House where LBJ and Lady Bird lived and from which he ran the country. Now we understand why he was so enthralled with his life at the ranch and why he spent 496 days of his presidency there. It is a beautiful and special place.
We then drove back to Johnson City and toured LBJ's boyhood home. His parents moved to the city when he was 5 and raised their family in the house. We definitely learned a lot about the man and his many accomplishments as well as the numerous laws that were passed when he was president.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Today we drove to the westernmost point of our trip and walked back to our hotel in town. While taking our selfie, a sheriff stopped to see if we needed help. The first 20 miles we were in the middle of nowhere with rolling hills and some ranches. We even passed an emu ranch. During the second 20 we had our most poignant moment of the trip. Maxine walked by Linda and Skip who were clearing some debris from their yard at the edge of the road. They are not accustomed to having people walk by, so of course they wanted to know what we were doing, etc. Linda said that their son, Ben, had been killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and would we mind carrying one of his pins with us as a way to symbolically take Ben on our trip. She gave us 4, so we will each take one with us tomorrow and on the second half of our walk. Linda and Skip have 7 children between them (second marriages for both), and several of them are in the service or law enforcement. They were so friendly and appreciative. After checking in to our hotel, we walked to Dairy Queen and then all through town. There were lots of people walking around with cups of beer and wine, several blocks of stores, wine tasting places and restaurants. There are many wineries in this area, and we liked the Fat Ass Winery store. This town is also the birthplace of Admiral Chester Nimitz, and we walked by the house in which he was born.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Today we went over 1100 miles and celebrated at an ice cream store on the road. It was 45 this morning but sunny, and it warmed up nicely for another day of rolling hills, wild flowers, ranches, and a couple of small towns. There were some interesting sights along the way.