We made a couple trips up to Austin. The first time we took in the LBJ Presidential Library. We had been there once before in about 1985 and essentially had no memory of it. We like to visit presidential libraries. During our full timing travels we already had visited the Clinton and Kennedy libraries. Before we started full timing we saw the Nixon and Ford libraries and Gary had been to the Eisenhower one on a trip with his parents. These libraries tend to feature a lot of the culture of the era and we always marvel at the displays of gifts the presidents have received from visiting world leaders. The Johnson Library was no exception. We were surprised to see how frankly the Library dealt with the unpopularity of the Viet Nam war and what a toll it had taken on Johnson and his Presidency. The Clinton Library just quickly glossed over President Clinton’s failings but the Johnson Library took head on the tragedy and heartache of the war.
On our second trip, we did another LBJ thing. This time it was the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Our anticipation of this one got the best of us. Being the middle of March, we had visions of fields and fields of wildflowers and especially bluebonnets. This place was a huge disappointment for us. We saw one small bed with a few blooms and that was it for the bluebonnets. This facility is dedicated to the preservation of wildflower species and native Texas plants more than it is to the display of them. With all the work Lady Bird led on highway beautification and wildflower planting, we just expected so much more. After visiting the Duke Gardens in North Carolina and the US Botanic Gardens in Washington DC to name two, we were less than whelmed to say the least. This was one of the very few times where we wondered aloud if we should ask for our money back (but we didn’t).
Austin isn’t an easy city to get around. The traffic is horrendous even at off peak hours. And while we were there it was during the SXSW (South by South West) Music, Film and Interactive Conference which made it even harder to navigate the city. We wanted to go to the entertainment district and see the “City of Live Music” up close, but there were just too much traffic, too few places to park and too many people on the streets even to try.