Part 1…..The Beautiful LBJ Ranch

 

THE HOME OF OUR 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES….LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON…..

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The next morning after we had visited Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Boy Hood Home, we got up early.  We were going to head 14 miles west of Johnson City to the LBJ State Park, the home of the LBJ Ranch also known as the Western White house while President Lyndon Johnson was in office, from 1963-1969.

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When we checked in the day before, the manager said we could see it in plenty of time in the morning and she would let us check out at 1pm instead of 12.  So we were up early so we could be their by 9 am.  We arrived and went to the Visitors Center and obtained a free park pass.  You can buy a CD Guided Tour tape, but we didn’t purchase it.  They had many very nice souvenirs of course.   So we headed to the Ranch.  We found out the Ranch House guided tours were on the hour.  Tickets are sold at the Airplane Hanger.

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We proceeded along the road.  We followed the road on the south side of the Pedernales River all the way to the edge of the property on the east side.  We crossed the little bridge on the river and made a left and entered the LBJ Ranch.

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We wanted to be at the hanger before 10 so we passed the School House, his Birthplace Home, the family Cemetery where LBJ and Lady Bird are buried and other family homes knowing we could see them on the way out.   We followed the Pedernales River now heading back west towards the Ranch that sat on the shore facing the beautiful river.

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The trees on the drive were so beautiful.  Big old oak trees.  Along the way we also passed many cattle.  They were roaming free.  The homes had fences around them so the cows wouldn’t go up to the houses.  lol.

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The LBJ Ranch is still a working ranch and these are descendents of his original herd.  This little baby just stood their and looked at us.

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Now this one found a way to itch his back.  He was moving back and forth rubbing on the tree branches with his eyes closed.  He must have been in heaven.  lol.  We made it almost to the house and the gate was closed.  We had to make a right turn and headed north.  Now what we didn’t realize was, that their was a airstrip on the ranch.  President Johnson would fly in on a jet.  So we had to go north around the far end of the runway to come back to the house.  It was full of pasture land, all fenced and kept in perfect shape.  after we looped around the end, we came upon the Cattle Show Barn.

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Their were several very nice buildings and many pens to separate the cattle.  We could have stopped but we had to keep going to make the 10 am House tour.  We followed beside the runway all the way to the ranch.   And their it was.  …..Amazing….. in front of us was the “Air Force One and a Half”, as President Johnson called it.

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This is a Lockheed JetStar VC-140.  It had a crew of 3, 2 pilots and 1 stewardess.  Its maximum speed as 605 mph, Cruising Speed, 520 mph, Range, 2,200 miles, with a service ceiling of 45,000 ft.  In 1953 Lyndon Johnson constructed a 3,000 ft. grass landing strip as he was spending a lot of time working in Washington.  By the time he became president a series of improvements had resulted in a 6,300 asphalt air strip.  But when he became president the airstrip wouldn’t support the weight of the Boeing 707, the “Air Force One”.  He would fly into San Antonio or Austin and use this plane to fly to the Ranch.  It made it much easier for him to take his work home.

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It looks so small inside but he really liked this plane.  This plane holds so many memories of so many dignitaries of the world.

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President Johnson looking out the window with his dog on one of his trips.

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We parked in the taxi way as it approached the hanger.  The original hanger is now the Museum/ticket office and the starting place for the tour.  This building held so many items of history.

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This is a favorite photo.  This was a large canvas of President and Lady Bird Johnson in the Museum.  They also had many recorded phone calls that you could listen to during his administration.  It was so interesting to listen to his speech, his choice of words, and Texan accent.  We purchased our tickets and our tour started.  Our Guide was a lady very well versed in the history of the Johnson Family.  She told the story with warmth and knowledge.  She took us out the back door and up the side of the house.  Through a gate and their we were.

 

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We were at the side of the Ranch House or Western White House.  This house has been built on many times during the years.  It was originally owned by his Aunt and Uncle.  He lived down the lane and later in town, but would come out and spend time on the ranch learning  and working the ranch.  In 1951, his Aunt and Uncle extended an offer to  him to buy the ranch.  Of Course he did.  He Loved this Ranch.  He had such wonderful memories as a child here and of the Perdenales River as it ran past the front of the ranch.  He spent many hours playing in the river.  Memories of his childhood were so near and dear to his heart.

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Our guide told us during his presidency, Johnson would hold many staff and other meetings here.  In nice weather they would sit in the grove of Oak trees down by the River.  After their work was done for the day, he would hold his famous barbeques.  If it was very large it would all be catered in and they would eat under the Oaks by the river.  Many famous politicians from the US and abroad would attend.  Most all of them arriving in his plane or by helicopter.  He spent 20 percent of his presidency here.  So as we went to the house, our guide told us we could not take pictures of the inside.  After Lady Bird died, the house was restored to the era of when he was president.  Lyndon Johnson died of a heart attack at age 64 on January 22, 1973.  Now Lady Bird didn’t pass until Jul 11, 2007 (age 94).   She live here as well as in Austin, and spent much of her time with her daughters.  She had saved all the furnishings and historical items so that the history could be preserved.  The house was then restored by the  National Park Service and opened for the Public.  The first room that we went in was the West addition that was were the Presidents Western White House office was.  The inside pictures I will display were taken from the internet.

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In this room was 4 desks.  This was  President Lyndon Baines Johnsons official desk.  Across from him was the desk of his Ranch Manager.  Their was also 2 other desks in their that were from his Washington crew.  One I believe was for his Press Secretary Pierre Salinger.  On the wall facing him was 3 tvs that were always tuned to the 3 major networks.  Now our guide said, “Just Imagine.  All 3 tvs going, 72 phone lines that came into the house ringing, and cigar smoke filtering through the air.  lol.”  Yes, never a dull moment in that house.

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Here is his recliner that has the Presidential Seal on the headrest.  His pillow reads “This is my ranch and I do as I dam please”……We went outside, the next part of the house we could not go in.  It was the original part that his Aunt and Uncle lived in.  We then walked around the front passing some huge Oaks and past the front of the house that was seen so many times during his presidency.

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I remember pictures of upstairs porch with that criss cross railing.  Here is President Johnson, Lady Bird and the 2 girls, Luci Baines and Lynda Bird.

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On the east side of the house, 2 bedrooms had been added on.  Presidents in the front and Lady Bird’s on the back side.  Also a Pool was added.  President Johnson could now just go out his bedroom door to the pool.  The pool is still being perfectly maintained today.

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We passed this piece of concrete that was on the approach to the front door.  It as added when LBJ bought the ranch in Aug 1952.  We then entered the side door and went down a long hallway passing all the room till we entered the living room.  Now all these inside pictures I have again taken from the internet.

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The Living Room had one of the stairways going upstairs.  We unfortunately couldn’t go up.  Lady Bird Johnson called this room “Grand Central Station”, as their were doors in all the walls leading to different parts of the house.  It was always hustle and bustle.

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Interiors of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Ranch also known as the Texas White House in Stonewall, Texas on Tuesday, January 31, 2012. (Austin American-Statesman/Rodolfo Gonzalez)

We were then taken into the kitchen.  It had an Industrial frig as well as industrial stove.  Many large meals were cooked here.  The guide said, that after Lyndon died, his girls remodeled the kitchen for their mother.  The yellow counter that you can see in the corner was replaced with modern counter.  After she died it was all restored to original yellow.  We never seen the Dinning Room, but we heard it was under construction.  We went back down the hall way seeing all the rooms we had passed on the way in.  We seen closets full of their clothes, bathrooms, and a sitting room.  The Sitting Room was once the Master Bedroom, but Lady Bird got tired of waking up in the middle of the night and finding by the Presidents side several members of his staff talking with the President.  So Therefore, that is why the 2 bedrooms were added on.  Lady Birds was very large.  She had a fireplace with a seating area, large windows to look outside at her flowers and a full wall enclosed curio cabinet for her special keepsakes.  A beautiful room of comfortable peace and serenity.

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Across the hall was the Presidents room.  He had a regular hospital light above the headboard.  Of course his 3 tvs were installed, and you can see his table for his Chiropractor treatments.  The guide said his Chiropractor was still living in Johnson City and she was always picking his brain for stories.  Every nite he would get an hour treatment.  He was suppose to be relaxing but he was always on the phone or talking with someone in the room.  After he left the presidency, they returned to the ranch to return to a normal life style if possible.  Lyndon Baines Johnson died at his ranch at 4:39 p.m. on January 22, 1973 at age 64, from a third myocardial infarction (heart attack).

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Johnson was napping in his ranch bedroom when he suffered his last massive coronary, called his beloved Secret Service agent Mike Howard and fell to the floor, almost instantly dead. It was exactly two days after the presidential term he would have served, had he run again in 1968, and almost the same moment that his successor, Richard Nixon, declared a peace in Vietnam that had eluded LBJ and would not last.
After Johnson’s first heart attack in 1955, doctors had told him that if he ever started smoking again, he would kill himself. But almost as soon as he left the presidency, he resumed fierce chain smoking, overeating, and, sometimes, overdrinking. Some of his aides privately muttered that the boss was committing slow motion suicide. But when one of his horrified daughters begged him to stop the cigarettes, Johnson shook his head and exclaimed, “No, I’ve raised you girls, I’ve been president, and now it’s my time!”   I also read that he was laying in bed and called his Agents that he was having massive chest pains.  The Agents found him in bed still with the phone in his hand.  But whether he was in bed or on the floor, he passed in his bedroom at his Beloved Ranch that he loved so much.  He had a life time of memories.  He was born on this land, his spent his childhood learning ranching, playing in the beautiful Perdenales River, later purchasing the property and making and developing it as his own.  He married Lady Bird and raised 2 daughters here.  Then becoming the 36th President of the United States and making this the Western White House So many important decisions were made during his presidency in this house and out under the Oak trees down by the river……..So Much to be Proud of……

Their is so much more that will be in Part 2.  Secret Service Command Post, Communications Center,  Their car collection, Birthplace home, School house and above all The Family Cemetery.  We left the house and seen so much more.  This has been such an inspiring tour so far,  learning so much about our president that I never knew.  We take so much for granted as a child.  We need to appreciate what we have as an adult and learn about our Beautiful Country we have and the Men who Have Made it Great.

……Stay Tuned for Part 2…..

But this is my Most Favorite Picture of the Day…..Rich on “Air force One” and a Half…..

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Boyhood Home of Lyndon B. Johnson, Johnson City Texas

Texas Hill Country is so beautiful.  After traveling mostly in eastern and southern Texas, this was such a gorgeous area.  Full of Beautiful scenery.

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It is the area where the desert meets the high plains and plateaus.  It can feel the harshness of the summer heat and drought, and also the winter storms, the cold and the snowstorms.  It is also the home of the beautiful wildflowers in season, most famous is the Bluebonnets.  This is the area our 36th president (1963-1969) Lyndon B. Johnson was born in and grew up in.  He loved and cherished it all his life.  We finally arrived in Johnson City (named after his ancestors) on Tue afternoon.  We found a reasonable campground right in town.  We had just enough time to find his Boyhood home.  The Lyndon B Johnson Historical Park is divided into 2 pieces.  His boyhood home and other exhibits in town and 14 miles west is the LBJ Ranch, the family home for over a century, his home and also the Western White House during his presidency.

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We decided to find his Boyhood home.  In town we could have seen many things such as history of Hill Country, restored structures of towns past, photos and movies of LBJ and Lady Bird, but it was so so hot, we decided to just see his Childhood Home.

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We was able to park right out front.  it is situated on a city block, comprised of 1 3/4 acres.  It is surrounded by a white picket fence.  Lyndon moved here in 1913 at the age of 5 and lived here for the next 24 years.  He moved from the farm as they called it then, west of town 14 miles, along with his parents and 2 sisters.  His dad, Sam Ealy Johnson Jr. paid $2,925 for the house.  It was called a Folk Victorian house built in 1903 by W. C. Russell, the Sheriff of Blanco Co.  

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As we approached the house the Park Ranger was swinging on the porch.   It turns out we were the only ones for a tour.  It was really causal and the Ranger did an excellent job.

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As we entered the house, this was the first room.  This was the office of Lyndon’s dadSam Ealy Johnson was a State Legislator for 12 years.  This house was originally very small.  It as constructed with a “dog run” or “dog trot”.  The main room is separated from the sleeping quarters by a breezeway that is covered.  It makes for more cool breezes.  It cools and circulates the air when the windows are open.  This room was the breezeway at one time until it was enclosed as a room.

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Off to the side was a bedroom.  This was the Girls Bedroom.  Eventually the Johnsons had 2 more children, a girl and a boy.  They raised 2 boys and 3 daughters in this house.

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We crossed back through the office to the Dinning room.  This was the center room for the house.  Now with time, a room was added on each side of the house off this dinning room.  Therefore, there’s  a door on each wall to a connecting room.  Also they added porches to each corner of the house.  It was surprising to feel how comfortable the temperature was inside the house.  Because of the porches shading the house and the open windows, their was a nice air flow even on 90 degree days.

floorThe back Sleeping porch and porch to the Tub room were screened in.  This also made 2 more doors in the Dining Room.

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This is the kitchen which was quite cheerful.  Because of its location, it didn’t heat up the house in the summer and had plenty of cross draft from the windows.

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One the other side of the Dinning Room was the Parents Bedroom.  Their bedroom was facing the front of the house and they also had a porch.  It was covered but not screened enclosed.

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This was the door to their porch.  They sure made beautiful wooden screen door back then.  Love the detail.  Notice the worn threshold?…..Years of the Johnson family walking and running out the door.

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The next room off the parents bedroom was…..of course the boys…..The parents had to keep a close watch over them…lol…also since this was the farthest room from the dinning room and the fireplace, they had a stove for the winter.  It is hard to see, but Rich spied a bucket under the bed.  …..Now we all know what that was used for….

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Off the boys room was a room they called ….The Tub Room….I believe this was pretty elegant and modern in that era.  Love the picture above the tub.

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This is the screened in porch between the Tub Room and the Dinning Room.   So beautiful isn’t it.  And this design allows the girls to use the Tub Room without going through the parents and boys rooms.  Really quite an amazing design.  Finally, back to the Dinning Room.

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To front of the house was 1 last room, The Parlor.  This was a rather formal room.  Lyndon’s mom was Rebekah Baines, one of the few college educated women in the area.  Education was her passion.  In this room she taught Elocution lessons (public speaking) and Debating techniques to the neighborhood children.  I asked the Ranger more about her.  He said, just remember, the Johnson men seemed to know how to marry women with money….lol….She came from money.  For her first years of marriage and during Lyndon’s first young years, they lived out at the farm, surrounded by other family members as it was owned by an Aunt and Uncle of Lyndon’s.  Life out their was much harder.  So that was when Sam moved the family in town to the more modern home.  She was so much happier to be able to live a more comfortable lifestyle, raise her family and be able to still teach.  I also asked about the authenticity of the furniture etc.  The ranger said it has been restored to 1920s era.  The only authentic pieces of the Johnsons are most of the things in the Parlor.  The furniture is original.   Most everything else in other rooms are replications.

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We walked out the back door to the beautiful yard.  It was full of beautiful Oak trees.  You can see the water system they had rigged up, and in the distance at the end of the path was a small barn for livestock.

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The windmill through the trees….It was a beautiful blue sky day.

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This picture was taken from near the barn looking to the back of the house.  You can see a small shed that I think was used for butchering and smoking meats.

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This is the back of the house.  The kitchen is in the middle, Sleeping porch in the right and the porch connecting the Tub Room on the left.   During the years after the Johnsons lived their, it had been altered and changed quite a bit.  It was given to the National Park Service and with the help of historians, architects, carpenters, stonemasons, and many local business people the restoration was completed.  It was opened in 1973 after 3 years of construction to restore its originality.

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This was an amazing tour to see where this little boy grow up to be the man he became…..

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…..The 36th President of the United States of America….

One can surely see where he received his roots.  His father was a State Legislator.  He helped his dad campaign for re-election and sat in on legislative sessions.  His mother was well educated and taught him public speaking and debating.  His life was formed as a child to succeed in life, to serve the people of the United States.   He was an Amazing Man.   

After we left their, we were hungry, so we scouted around town.  It is a town loaded with little antique shops and stores.  You can only imagine through the years since he was president, the amount of visitors they have had in this town.  All over the country and also the world.  I’m sure many world leaders or representatives and families have shopped in this town on the way to the Ranch.  We found a cute little restaurant that had its own winery inside.  Prices were a little steep, but we had the BEST CHICKEN FRIED STEAK ever.  It as awesome.  Finally back to the Motorhome.

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Tomorrow we would head out to the LBJ Ranch …14 miles west

…..IT WAS MAGNIFICENT….

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma State Capital Tour and Steak and Shake

We were making a small vacation of this delay in Oklahoma City, waiting for the Motor Home to go into the shop.  We had added taking a tour of the State Capital to our list.  Last year we toured the Iowa Capital in Des Moines and was so impressed.  It seems that all Capital buildings are open for either a guided tour or self guided.  We checked out GPS on the phone and found out it was near.  So off we went in search of the State Capital of Oklahoma.  Of course traffic these days around capitals seems to be one way with circular drives around the whole complex.  So if you miss your turnoff, around you go again.  So finally we parked right in front.  After asking questions we were told to park in the designated spots of the House and Senate.  Of course they were out of session.  That seems to be the norm.

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On the approach it also looked very stately with a Dome.  But it was not gold gilded like Iowa State Capital.  We found out later Oklahoma’s capitol was designed 95 years ago to have a dome, but the money ran out and the work was not resumed until 2001. So for all those years.  The building was just flat, looking very stately but no dome.

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On the top if you look close is an Indian. The Guardian,” his body facing east in an Indian tradition and his face looking south, is 17 feet high but the entire structure, including a spear thrust into the ground at his feet, is 22 feet tall.  “The Guardian” is supposed to reflect Oklahoma’s heritage as the former Indian Territory. Nearly 40 Indian tribes call Oklahoma home, more than any other state.    Upon walking up to the building we realized that we came at the time of a major restoration, inside and out.  Scaffolding was covering a big portion of a wing.  We had boarded walkway to guide us to the entrance which was in the lower level.  Upon entering, of course we went through security and then on to the Visitor Center.  Their was a bunch of high school age kids and their teacher waiting for a tour.  We entered the very nice gift shop and visited with the very nice lady.  We had the option to tour our self or go with the group.  We decided to go with the kids as we might learn more.  A few minutes later our guide came and off we went.  Down the hall and up the stairs, turn, more stairs…..lol….Around the corner and look what we found.

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This is a 9ft.  bronze replica of the statue on guard at the top of the Dome.  On we went with the kids.

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We came to a Beautiful Grand staircase.  We kept going until we came to the rotunda featuring the State Seal.

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It was situated right under the dome.  You could look up through the circular openings in the floors, all the way to the top of the dome.

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It was magnificent.  At the very top is the State Seal and if you look closely you can see different levels that have railings around them.

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We walked up another floor, and looked down at the State Seal.  So impressive with all the granite everywhere.

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Now as we were trailing the kids, the tour guide said, “Don’t you have any questions?…Did you bring your pens and notebooks?”……Of course,  No Response.  They were just their to do the tour and have a fun day out….Notice the railings in the rotunda are all beautiful marble swirled.

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The stair railings were also all marble and wrought iron.  On we went.  The one thing we were disappointed in, was all the paintings or anything decorative and art items had been removed for remodeling.  So the walls were very plain.  But they were remodeling, so that was to be expected.

Oklahoma capitalThis  is what the rotunda looks like with some of the art and paintings on display.  Next we went to the Hall of the Governors.

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This room holds the sculptures of all the Oklahoma State Govenors.

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This painting is my favorite.  It is called “Flight of Spirit”.  The artist is Mike Larsen, who is of Chickasaw decent.  It is just beautiful.

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Here is another painting, depicting the history of Oklahoma.  The colors are so beautiful and vibrant.  Above is a stain glass curved window that lets light in

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Next we went to the Supreme Court.  It doesn’t look quite at large as I thought it would be but it was interesting.  Our guide gave us some good facts that I already forgot….lol…Guess I should have brought my pen and paper.

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‘Then on to the Senate.  The kids all sat at desks of the Senators as the tour guide talked.  You notice the balcony area,  it is open to the public to watch proceedings.  Some of it is glassed of so the noises of the news reporters cameras clicking are not heard.

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Out in the hall we came across another beautiful mural depicting the history of the oil industry.

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Now we entered the House of Representatives.  This time we were at the back of the room.  As you can see the balcony areas wrap all around the room.  If you look close, on the wall are the old fashion black bladed fans that are original and still can be used today.  The ceilings in both houses are stained glass.  At one time, they had been closed and sealed up to  make A/C more economical.  In the last decade, they decided to restore them to original.  They are beautiful.  At this time, it was the end of the guided tour.  We left the group and wandered a little our selves.  We finally left after about an hour and a half.

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Located on more than 100 acres in NE Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma State Capitol is the only capitol in the world surrounded by working oil wells. One is even named Petunia #1, because it was drilled in the middle of a flower bed.   In researching, I found several interesting pictures from the past.

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This one shows the many oil rigs around the capital.  It also shows the capital before the dome was added.  71225-004-CE0ECD1FAnother picture with all the oil rigs.  The capitol building is directly atop the Oklahoma City Oil Field.

Finally we headed back home.  We had 2 more days to enjoy.  I had wanted to go to Oklahoma City Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge.  It would have been so much walking, so we passed on that.  It was really hot so we just enjoyed the a/c, and did caught up on laundry.  We did so some shopping and found a Steak and Shake.

 

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Steak and Shake design of today

 

Now for those of you who don’t know, Steak and Shake started in Normal Illinois in 1934.  I grew up not far from their.  I thought it was only a local or Illinois chain.  They have the best Steak burgers, Chili, Chili Mac, and Chili 3 ways and skinny fries.  They are also famous for their old fashioned shakes…..

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When I was a teenager, they were drive in restaurants.  They offered curb service with carhops or eat in.  We would go to Peoria and cruise Main St.  Drive in and around Steak and Shake and back out again down Main. 

 

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Steak and Shake of the 50’s and 60’s

 

That’s what everyone did with cool cars.  A place for the guys and the girls to met…lol….Now I have found out they are in over 31 states and International.  They are only offer eat-in or drive-through now.  When Peru Illinois first built theirs, Tina was just 16.  She applied and got her first job their.  She just received her license and drove to Normal to get her training.  She did that several weeks.  I was a little leery but she did well.  She worked their for quite awhile.  They are open 24 hours, so she put in some very late nights.  I can’t believe I let her work till 2 am sometimes.  I wonder if that is even legal today.  So long story short, we went in and had a wonderful dinner.  I had my regular, Frisco Melt with fries covered with cheese.  It is 2 Steak burgers with American and Swiss cheese on buttery Sourdough bread, grilled to perfection with their Sweet and Tangy sauce inside.  Rich had a Triple burger and fries.  Mmmmm Mmm…good food.

We had a nice relaxing time at the campground.  We noticed it was so windy their.  Every day it just blew.  Also right by the office was a huge concrete storm shelter.  Oklahoma has so many tornadoes, they have to be prepared.  I was also planning on going swimming in their indoor pool, but the nite before some little kid made a deposit in the pool…..lol….The manager had to clean and drain it.  So much for that.  Finally Monday morning, we were told to be at the Rush Truck Shop at 8 am.  We drove about a mile and entered the yard and got in line.   Well the 8 am appointment ended up 1 pm.  We finally got in and were out by 2:30.  All that waiting for an hour and a half of service.  Oh Well, finally on the road again and heading south.  Next stop Johnson City Texas.  We have always wanted to tour the LBJ Ranch.   For those of you who are young,  LBJ stands for Lyndon Baines Johnson, our 36th President of the United States.  I was surprised how many do not know that.  Even the kids and grandkids had no idea.  I guess that shows our age.  We lived that chapter of history when President John F Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn into office on Air Force One.  We crossed into Texas finally and spent the nite at a campground.  On Tue. we drove on to Johnson City and found another campground.  On the way we had entered Hill Country.  It is the most beautiful area of Texas.

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The trees and landscape were so green.  The road wound up and down and around hills.  Some place you seen what looked like small mountains in the distance.  Such a beautiful area.  After we checked in, we started our touring of LBJs life in Johnson City and the Ranch west of town.   Next Blog……LBJs Boyhood Home and LBJs Ranch on the Perdernales River. Also known as the Western White House during his Presidency