Daily Archives: December 22, 2012

DAY 97 – 12/20/2012 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX

We are always inspired by people who dedicate their energies to preserving and protecting nature. President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, forever and affectionately known as “Lady Bird”, began conservation efforts very early in her life in Texas, culminating in the creation of the  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin in 1982.


She used her public platform as First Lady to “introduce people to the beauty and diversity of wildflowers and other native plants”.


The day we visited the Center was chilly but beautiful.


Because of the season, there were very few flowers in bloom for our visit.


Indian Blanket

But, thankfully for us, there is more to the Center than just flowers.



Lady Bird, and the Center, were into “Sustainable Landscapes” before sustainable landscapes was a catchword. The Center is a model for green roofs as well as water conservation, a must in arid Texas.

Pipeline leading from the water-collecting cistern

Pipeline leading to the water-collecting cistern

LB travelled all over the country during her husband’s term in office and until the end of her life in 2007. She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for her work in beautifying our nations highways with wildflowers.

Behind the Center, on 279 acres, is a showcase for her beloved Texas landscape. Gravel walks and numerous informational plaques explain how this place is kept in harmony with nature.


The Texas environment was shaped by frequent wildfires.  Now, those fires are suppressed, allowing forest to develop and overwhelm the native savannah. Livestock grazing and farming increase damage to the countryside. The Center showed us Texas as it used to be (in many places, it still is).


There are resources at the Center and online for those who want to create a more natural landscape in their own backyard.


We went away with some good ideas for when we get back home.

Ground glass mulch!

Ground glass mulch!

– Jane


DAY 96 -12/19/2012 A Scots Treat, still at Rocky Hill Ranch, Smithville, TX


The Rocky Hill Ranch bathhouse and registration center. Long previously a bar and grill, now the perfect place to finish a ride (Food available on weekends only).

After yesterday’s good ride and a Curry Chicken supper with J-P in our “kitchen” Jane and I settled in for a quiet night’s sleep up on the hill at Rocky Hill Ranch.  The tent sites looked nicer, had trees, were further from the road and were just plain nicer than the field where they put RV’s during busy race days. Tonight, there was no one but us in the campground.


We slept hard, Mt Biking hard!  Awoke and had a casual breakfast before preparing to leave for points West.  I decided to have one more shower at the bath-house despite the dark,  as the power was turned off.  Into the lot pulled a small car.  Out hopped a fit young man, surely ready to do a ride here, maybe awaiting a meeting with another or a group.

I greeted him and was blessed by his wonderful Scotch Brogue and one of the nicest guys you could meet.  He’s really straight here from offshore oil in Scotland, now in Houston with his family for work.  Inside I was wishing I was about to start a ride, but Jane and I had perused the map and had our loose plans in mind.  Another rider appeared, getting ready to mark a course for a qualifying race, who didn’t seem to have much time to explain the trails or lead Robbie the Scot around at all.

Jane selflessly chimed in, “You need to take another ride David”, “You need to ride with Robbie”…  I tried not to sound too overjoyed as I made sure Jane had a book and all she needed while I spent a few hours.  With a big smile and hug, she gave her blessing and off we went.  I showed Robbie some of the best trails Jean-Philippe had shown me the day before.

We two traded leads on those hardscrabble trails.  The smoother windy bits were a joy as well and we ended up riding back onto the North end of the property right off of the map.  As we guided our way back in, trails like Tris Cross and Longhorn wore us down.  Climbing the last few hills before finishing, I announced “right after we crest this hill or the next, we’ll see the parking lot”.  I’m always so relieved when I know the end is in reach.   After about three hours on a bike you need to be in a an energy conservation mode.  Concealing my fatigue, I was crawling out under my long-ride mantra and shared the thought with Robbie: “Never sprint-never brake”.


That is my favorite way to connect to a new friend.  Perhaps in a few years I’ll give a shout to Robbie while visiting Scotland.  I hear it’s nice there.

– David

Robbie is a great new friend! If you’re reading this now, Robbie, I hope I don’t embarrass you by saying that your accent is marvelous and I could listen to it all day!

Robbie has a beautiful family, with two adorable little girls. He shared their picture with us. I hope, someday, we might meet them, too.

– Jane