|I spent the weekend in the city of Waco, TX and visited a few interesting places. First was the Dr. Pepper Museum
since the drink was invented here by a man like this
working in a place that looked much like this
Here is some of the equipment they used to produce and bottle it
and the artesian well where the water in it originally came from
Early on, it was distributed by a man like this
,probably in a truck like this
I never really cared for Dr. pepper but it was an interesting place to spend an hour and $8, including audio device.
Next I went to my campsite, Waco Lake. This pic is from Saturday since it started raining shortly after I check in on Friday and proceeded to do so all night long.
Look at the size of these lots
It is owned by the COE (Corps of Engineers) and is a great bargain as well. Saturday I visited to the Texas Ranger Museum
They were established in 1823 by Stephen Austin, President of the Republic of Texas.
Early on, their duties also included surveying much of this vast region
Of course, they are probably best know for fighting Indians( oops, Native Americans) from camps like these
What you may not know is that they were also enlisted in the war against alcohol, also know as Prohibition, and they found and destroyed stills like these.
They quickly became known as crime fighters and this is an early crime kit
Today they are on the cutting edge of technology in this field and have experts in all areas, including facial reconstruction.
They have jurisdiction throughout the entire state of TX and their crime labs are frequently used by smaller police and sheriff departments to help solve all kinds of crime. The list of qualifications was very long and impressive and they pride themselves on being innovative. One last interesting fact - the famous crime spree duo of Bonnie and Clyde killed a dozen people, including 9 law enforcement officers and committed a multitude of other crimes in several states but eluded officials for months. A former Texas Ranger was hired to track them down and found and killed both of them in 102 days after being hired!!
Sunday I drove down to Austin to meet a friend for lunch and sightseeing. We ate at an authentic Texas barbecue joint called the Salt Lick which has been owned by the same family since 1959. Their billboards claim "You can smell our pits for miles" and man, when you step out of the car, it makes the whole trip worth while.
They still smoke all their own meat at a pit right inside the building - check this out
After stuffing ourselves, we drove downtown to walk around and see the city. We picked up maps at the visitor center very cleverly hidden in a row of storefronts, bars, pool halls etc behind a large "duck" tour bus. The capitol building of the large state of Texas is, as you might imagine, the largest in the country in square feet.
It also has extensive grounds, well landscaped and studded with fountains (not working for our visit) and memorials like this one for Confederate soldiers.
Inside we marveled at the details like this
plaster work and the exquisite carving for the four stories of this dome
We joined a free tour and learned a few interesting facts about the Texas legislature. It only meets every two years, for 140 calendar days, from the second Monday of January til June 1. All bills must be passed during that time or they wait two more years. Maybe more legislators in other states and especially in Washington should adopt this practice! It's certainly much closer to what the founding fathers had in mind. Here is the Senate Chamber
These lights weigh over 3000 pounds each and actually spell out Texas, see if you can make it out.
When they needed more office space for the state workers and legislative staffs they built a huge addition, underneath the building. This floor is 25 feet below the surface and yes, that is natural sunlight.
They built these huge solarium things which look kind of like greenhouses from the surfaces so that they could have sunshine underground.
Next we walked 7 or 8 more blocks to the Bob Bullock (don't know who he is, google him if you're curious) Texas State History Museum. the building had these cool sculptured panels showing TX history from early settlers to space exploration.
We had hoped to see a show called Texas, the Big Picture, in the IMAX theater, but they were only showing Avatar in 3-D in it. Instead, we opted for a multi-media show called The Star of Destiny where we felt wind from the hurricane that wiped out Galveston in 1900, bugs in our hair from the plague of grasshoppers that wiped out crops of early settlers and had someting bite our rumps(or felt like it) whie they talked about the nests of rattlesnakes in the mountains out west. We also learned that it doesn't matter where you're born, we all have a little bit of Texan in us.
This mural was on the side of a building near where we had parked.
I headed back to Waco lake in time to enjoy this twilight scene.
while walking the dog.