So itís 11 AM, and Iíve only gone 1 mile. But that mile has taken me to the right place. Iím at the San Jose Mission, part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The park contains four sites, each with an 18th century Spanish mission, stretching along the San Antonio River. There is Concepciůn (where I stopped yesterday), San Juan, Espada, and of course San Jose. I would tell you more about the missions and the people who built them, but I canít. The park brochure is only available in Spanish, as theyíve run out of the English variety. I stroll around the grounds and get the stamp. Mission accomplished. Get It? Mission. Accomplished.
Okay, moving right along. I could head straight up to Austin, but Iíve got two goals in mind. One is another stamp, at the Lyndon B, Johnson National Historic Park. And the other is the famed hill country of Texas. Many of you might think that Texas is flat and a boring ride for motorcyclists. And in vast parts of the state youíd be right. But Texas is also home to some of the best riding roads in America. I discovered that a couple of days ago when I rode that roller coaster called El Camino del Rio between Presidio and Terlinqua on route 170. Another mecca of Texas riding centers around Fredericksburg and the Hill Country. When I reach Johnson City, I'm just on the eastern edge of it, but it's a good taste. For more information of the great riding roads of Texas, check out "Ride Texas: Motorcycling Ride Guide for the Roads of Texas" by Miquel and Val Asensio.
Lyndon B. Johnson called this part of Texas home. The town where he was born, grew up, retired, and later died in seems today like it hasn't changed much in the past 100 years. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park celebrates the life and legacy of the 36th President of The United States. The visitor center in town has a nice display and a good film on Johnsonís presidency. There is a film about Lady Bird Johnson as well. I don't stay too long, as I'm anxious to get to Austin, the Texas Capital.
Waiting for me in Austin in a luxurious room at The Driskill, the newly restored hotel which also happens to be a national historic landmark. I asked my friend Heather Murrell, a Texas native, to recommend a real nice place to stay for my two nights in Austin. Heather didn't disappoint. The Driskill is, without a doubt, the nicest hotel I've stayed at on this trip. It is also the most expensive, but I deserve it. The hotel was originally built in 1886, and my room is in the historic wing. Everything has been redone, but the antiques and spectacular architectural features remain. I also love the phone in the bathroom. And they don't just put a mint on your bed at night, they rest a yellow rose on your pillow. The only potential problem for a traveling motorcyclist is that the hotel has no self parking, only a valet. But this is Texas, the friendly state, and they take care of it, letting me park my bike in a secured lot overnight.
I head down to 4th Street for dinner, and suddenly I discover I'm in a real city again. There are lots of bars and trendy restaurants. I feel out of place after being on the road for so long. I'm more comfortable walking along the streets. So after a quick bite at the Bitter End Bistro and Brewery (311 Colorado Street), I take a stroll back up Congress Street for some late night sightseeing. The Capital building glows in spotlights. I wander around the shadows of the glorious building, reading the inscriptions on statues, written to heroes long since gone.
And I was just like them only a few short months ago. And maybe I'll return to that life once more when I get back home. But now, alone on this journey, I feel disconnected from that young urban professional life. And at the same time I feel healthier, and happier, and more alive than I've ever felt before. And that desire to "Make It Big" was left somewhere back on the road, many miles away from here. Other things are more important now.
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