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Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ ENTRANCE
A driving permit is required, but free at the Vistor Center.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ birthplace

If you find yourself along Highway 290 between Fredericksburg and Johnson City (TX), make sure to stop at the LBJ National Historical Park’s LBJ Ranch.

Entrance to the park is free and just requires a stop at the State Park Visitor Center to obtain a driving permit and audio CD for the driving tour. Some sites to see include the old schoolhouse, LBJ’s birthplace (turned guest house), LBJ and Lady Bird’s burial site, the working cattle ranch, the hangar and the “Texas White House”. Oh… did I mention all the pecan trees, Texas Longhorns, bison and white-tailed deer?

A 25-30 minute tour of the Texas White House is only $2. If you have the time, I highly recommend the tour. You will be surprised to see how things were left exactly the way they were. From embroidery pillows to clothing in the closet to family photos on the dresser. No photos are allowed inside the house.

Before leaving the area, make sure to stop at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farmstead, just east of the visitor center. A tour of the early 1918 farmstead is free and you will literally step into living history – just watch out for cow and sheep patties! The folks dressed up as settlers actually grow and can the foods you see on display. Around lunchtime they actually prepare foods as they would during the period.  And all the food comes from the farmstead (including the meat).

There are actually two parks, the national and the state historic park. Part of the state park is located in Johnson City, so if you may want to venture the 14 or so miles to see that after touring the LBJ Ranch.

There is plenty of parking for Big Rigs at the visitor center, however, you probably wouldn’t want to drive around the whole loop of LBJ Ranch. When you obtain your driving permit, ask what they recommend. There is parking at the Sauer-Beckmann farm, yet is is reserved for smaller vehicles. Yet the farmstead is only a brief walk from the visitor center.

For additional information on these, please visit their websites:

http://www.nps.gov/lyjo/index.htm

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lyndon_b_johnson/

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©Lady Bird and LBJ’s resting place

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©LBJ Plane
Air Force “One and Half” as called by LBJ

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©TEXAS WHITE HOUSE
The “Texas White House” – well worth a tour!

Okay, so maybe not the best time to go for a swim!

Normally, when it appears a thunderstorm is headed your way… you wouldn’t think of trekking to the beach… but then again, we’re tourists and…it’s the beach!

Our trip to Perdido Key State Park was rather short (and wet!), but it is a beautiful park with plenty of white sand, dunes and sea oats to make even the grumpiest Snowbird grin. 😉

If you find yourself on a beautiful sunny (or even not-so-sunny) day in this region of Florida, don’t hesitate to drive out to Perdido Key. Entrance to the park is only $3 per vehicle and the park is open 8 AM until sunset.

For more information:  http://floridastateparks.org/perdidokey

Shelter from the storm... well, until the wind started up!

If you ever find yourself near Penn Valley, California… and you’re just itching to try your hand at panning for gold… make sure you spend a few hours at the South Yuba River State Park.

The highlight of the park is the covered bridge. Amazing photos and information about its history can be found in the visitor’s center.

During the summer, the park hosts gold panning demonstrations. You can purchase inexpensive equipment in the visitor’s center and pan for gold right under the bridge. Don’t be shocked when you look into the water and see gold glitter! Although it’s not the “big stuff”, it is fun to see a pan full of gold water. 😉

If you do pan, you should take water-proof boots as the water is very cold after a few minutes. And if you take a picnic lunch,  keep it in your vehicle until you are ready for it. We found the squirrels were hoping to “pan-out” with our picnic while we were panning! 😉

There is some old equipment and buildings in the park which add to the history of the area. Within walking distance is an old cemetery. There are several hiking trails, one is even wheel-chair accessible.

There are different parking areas, but the main area down by the bridge is paved and has adequate room for tows and smaller RVs.

For more information: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=496

We recently enjoyed a lovely day at Eden Gardens State Park. Located between Destin and Panama City Beach, the park is a charming retreat to “real” Florida.

Eden Gardens is an old historic homestead that includes a 1897 mansion, reflection pool, gardens and plenty of moss-draped oaks to transport you back in time.

There are also nature trails (although remember it is Florida and you should wear proper shoes and take some bottled water if you plan to hike) and a great view of Tucker Bayou.

Admission to the park is just $4 per vehicle and for an additional fee you can tour the mansion. If you plan to tour the mansion, check their website for current tour dates and hours.

http://www.floridastateparks.org/edengardens/

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park in Vantage, Washington is just over 7,000 acres. The visitor center overlooks the Columbia River. When petrified wood was discovered in the area the park was created as a national historic preserve. The Forest  is a registered national “natural” landmark. Although we didn’t camp there (just stopped for the day), they do have camping year-round. It is an amazing drive along the Columbia River and you’ll find rock shops nearby to stop and buy souvenirs.

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