In the one and a half years that I have lived in Paris I have made one French friend. She lives in the top floor of my apartment, and her name is Claire. You may remember her from our Neighbor Party. Claire has just spent ten days with us in Texas, and a long weekend with Mlle. Cordon Bleu in Seattle. We did our best to show off the Lone Star State, and despite the blistering temperatures, I think Claire liked what she saw.
After acclimatizing in Houston for a day, we loaded up the car and drove to Austin for four days. We covered a lot of ground and saw lots of wonderful things. Like this:
First stop was the Bob Bullock Museum, a gorgeous collection of Texas history. Don’t miss it if you are ever in Austin.
Warren was a most enthusiastic greeter as we entered the building. He loved having is picture taken with a real Parisian.
The ground floor is a stunning mosaic depicting different periods in the history of Texas around a campfire, as if seen from above.
Of course the museum is full of historically significant collections, but I took pictures of old signs. Because I love them.
While there, we watched a wonderful IMAX movie about Texas. At its conclusion, Claire commented that Texas seems to be a bit “over the top” with its Texas pride. Not sure what she meant by that. She also asked if she could try the weird food on a stick that she saw in the film. Corndogs. Paris ain’t got none of those.
Next was lunch at a place Mark and I used to frequent in our law school days. “The Fork In The Road”, aka Hyde Park Bar and Grill.
After filling up on their amazing fries, we headed for the state capitol, where we took a 45 minute guided tour.
Next we were next door at the Capitol Visitor’s Center.
Burning up and not yet ready to go home, we introduced Claire to Sno Beach, another favorite Austin spot.
That night we showed Claire the Mexican Free-tailed bats that depart each night from underneath the Congress Avenue bridge. They are quite the spectacle, and people gather to wait for their nightly appearance. I wasn’t able to capture the bats, because it was too dark, but here is the bridge.
We watched from a blanket on the banks of the Four Seasons Hotel.
The hotel has gorgeous planters on its grounds.
The next day we headed west to show Claire her first real Texas ranch.
Mark and I had never been to the LBJ ranch, where President Johnson spent 25% of his time while he was president, and we were blown away with how great it was. My favorite part was touring the family home, which has been put back the way it looked while LBJ was in office. Sadly, no pictures were allowed, but it was just like stepping back into time.
On the drive back to Austin we stopped to share some of Texas’ finest cuisine.
We drove straight to one of our favorite places in Texas, Barton Springs. Barton Springs is a natural spring-fed pool in Austin, where the water is a constant and chilly 68 degrees, and the best place to combat the Texas summer heat.
On Saturday we found some water in Lake Travis and swam in it, and then went to a concert at the Austin City Limits studio.
Back to Houston on Sunday, to repack the car for Galveston Island. We spent two nights there, topping it off with a tour of NASA on the way home. That night we went to watch the Houston Astros play the St. Louis Cardinals. Claire had never seen a baseball game, but got so into it she had to go buy a big foam finger to wave for the Astros! We found a hot dog in the stadium, but sadly, no corn dogs.
And that concludes our tour of Texas for my French amie. She was an enthusiastic guest, and seemed to be charmed by all she saw and tasted, with the exception of root beer.
I will question her about her impressions of the Lone Star State and share them with you soon. In the meantime, remember the immortal words of my hero, Lyle Lovett:
That’s right you’re not from Texas;
that’s right you’re not from Texas;
that’s right you’re not from Texas,
but Texas wants you anyway.