May 1, 2006

Field Trip Review: Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch

For my husband's birthday last week, we decided to study some history together as a family, so we took a beautiful drive up into the Hill Country to visit the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch. Although he was not a president of our values, necessarily, we thought it might be interesting to learn about him anyway, since he lived so close (about 1 1/2 hours for us).

As instructed on the website, we first stopped in Johnson City at the visitor's center (a very small sign on the main road - good thing we were searching for it!). They showed a couple movies, one about Lyndon B. Johnson's life and politics, and the other about his wife, LadyBird. We only had time for the one about the President. We were surprised to learn that what we thought we knew about him wasn't really the whole truth! The visitor's center is very nice, with some museum-like articles and a great bookstore. (Museums usually have the greatest bookstores, especially for homeschoolers! I have a hard time keeping my spending down there!) They told us a bus ranch tour was starting soon, so we headed 14 miles down the road to the main ranch.

The bus tour was $6 for adults and $3 for children (cash, please), money well spent! The tour lasted about 1 1/2 hours, with many stops. We did get out once for 20-30 minutes to visit his birthplace and burial place, located yards from each other. What an unusual story that was. We saw the Texas White House, the one-room schoolroom where President Johnson got his start in life. We waved to the Secret Service as they watched us from behind very dark windows, while guarding LadyBird, who still lives there. We saw several of his cars and and got out again to see his still working ranch. Our tour guide did an excellent job! The beauty of the whole place was well worth the trip alone!

What a fascinating personality Lyndon B. Johnson was! We would like to go back and learn more, and maybe have time to learn about his wife next time, too!

While there, we had a picnic under the gorgeous trees at one of several picnicking areas. After lunch, we went to the Sauer-Beckman Farm, which is a living history German farm set in 1918 that is still a working farm, on the Johnson property. They had chickens and roosters and turkeys running around under your feet, with brand new baby chicks! The sheep had just had a baby lamb 4 days ago. There were horses and cows and pigs as well as a large growing garden. We had a personal tour of the two houses that were used on that farm, about one hour of just the tour guide and our family. We learned so many details about life at that time, including seeing how they kept food, such as raw milk, fresh daily, from spoiling in the heat. They have a special living history day every year, usually on June 17, which we went to last year, and HIGHLY recommend it.

Exponential learning at its best!


Joshua said...

Thanks for taking us. We had a great time!

Jen said...

You're welcome, son. Anytime!

Mark Epstein said...

Thank you as well, hon. I had the best birthday in a long time! Great way to send me off to Guam. :-)