Waco, Texas Monday April 3
Our driving through Texas has begun. Obviously our observations are not an accurate picture of Texas but simply a snapshot of what we have seen and how we interpret them. For instance, Texas is showing us roadside flowers, unlike Louisiana. In Louisiana, we observed state crews mowing the median and sides of roadways. I had thought states had stopped roadside mowing in order to allow for habitat for birds and butterflies, particularly nesting birds. I guess I was at least partially wrong. Louisiana’s roadsides looked sharper since they had just been mowed, but Texas roadsides were more attractive with the additional color. I was told this evening that azaleas in the Waco area have come and gone. Early spring and heavy rains have ended their season. I have hopes for other parts of Texas.
On the road north from Houston to College Station, it appeared that every property was a ranch with detailed and fancy gates and driveways. I did not have Chris take any pictures, thinking the gates would continue in areas further along where the traffic might be lighter. So far, wrong. The gates ended at College Statin and did not re-appear on our way to Waco.
Of course, my favorite criticism is drivers. In Florida we had truly reckless and extremely speedy drivers. In Louisiana it seemed the law must require drivers to never use a turn signal. In Texas it is speed, but in an unusual way. When the speed limit is 75, speeding is minimal. When the speed limit is 55 or 65, no matter what the legal or safety reason might be for the lower limit, everyone still drives at 75 mph. It is as if a lower limit is an affront to the moral right to drive at 75.
Sunday was our day to visit with relatives, our daughter-in-law Sarah’s maternal grandparents. They invited us over for a delightful brunch. We also visited with Sarah’s mother, sister, nephew and cousin. We did not do any other tourist or outdoor activities. The weather was stormy but the rain held off surprisingly.
Today our major stop was at the George (H.W.) Bush Presidential library in College Station. College Station is home to Texas A & M University. Bush is not an Aggie, he went to Yale. George and Barbara Bush moved to Texas in the early 50’s and they became dedicated Texans. President Bush stated that he was always impressed with the Aggie spirit and mission; locating his library here was a means to recognize that.
Chris and I have come to truly enjoy and appreciate presidential libraries and homes. (We will see two more on this trip.) The early ones like the homes of Taft and Garfield are less impressive but it is re-connecting with the spirit of the person who became President of the United States that is so meaningful. It is helpful for us to have space between the time when a man was President and when we view the library to have a fresh perspective; to not have our thoughts impacted by current angst over a particular decision or occurrence. We also frequently have “Ah ha” moments; remembering old tidbits of history or learning brand new ones.
The Bush Library struck us as a reflection on the life and family of George and Barbara Bush. The Clinton Library, in contrast, was overwhelming in facts, data, events. Here there was a more nuanced reflection on life background, moments and activities that shaped the couple. There was a broader recounting of George Bush’s military service history, political history (Ambassador to U.N and China, CIA Director, Vice President, U.S. Congressman) and dedication to a life of service, including before and after his term in office.
The exhibit does discuss the challenge of being President when both houses of Congress are in the hands of the opposition party; the passage of the Clean Air Act and Americans with Disabilities Act; the invasions of Iraq and Panama; and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Our second stop was at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. What can be more Texan than that? The museum has a history of the Rangers from inception under Stephen Austin (10 Rangers) at the beginning of the Texas colony under Mexico. There were times of less than stellar activities but primarily it is a well-earned positive image. Today the Rangers are a small (150) portion of the Texas Department of Public Safety, serving all over the state primarily in criminal investigation functions.
At one early stage in its history, the Rangers also served as surveyors. Their focus shifts as the state changes. Defense of white settlers from Indian raids was an early task, the suppression of outlaws during the wild and wooly days after the Civil War is well-known. Border protection has been a constant; the desire by criminals to commit crimes across national borders seems to be never-ending.
In Waco we are staying with an Evergreen host. We will be with Evergreeners for ten nights during this stretch in central Texas. Dinner was dutch treat with our host at a local restaurant.
Ed and Chris. April 4