Texas Hill Country Part IV: LBJ Library and Good Texas Barbeque
You can't go very far in the central part of Texas Hill Country without running into President and Lady Bird Johnson over and over again. In addition to the LBJ Ranch and boyhood home located a little north and west of where we were staying, the LBJ Presidential Library is also located in Austin to the east. We're not big LBJ fans, but we are interested in history. LBJ is part of the history that was made during the time when we were young adults and were too busy to pay much attention. So while we were in Hill Country, we thought we might as well visit the LBJ Library.
We also decided to stop at the Barton Creek Farmers Market located at the back of the Barton Creek Square Mall on the outskirts of Austin on our way to the library. The market is held on Saturdays.
We weren't sure what to expect with the farmers market. Some farmers' markets have a couple of vendors selling vegetables out of boxes. Other times, there are lots of vendors selling a wide variety of produce. Barton Creek Farmers Market was the latter. The photo below shows only one of the two rows of vendors.
Not only was the market large, but everything was fresh and home grown, and much of it was organic. There was lettuce, broccoli, squash, carrots, and more. One vendor had some very nice-looking orchids.
There were also some natural, prepared foods like salsa, pesto, tabouleh, and cheeses. Someone was also there selling wildflower honey. Since we needed honey, we bought some. We're anxious to try it.
Several bakers at the market had artisan breads. We bought a loaf of whole-grain bread with sweet red peppers and kalamata olives from the fellow in the photo below.
From the market, it was a short drive to the the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. It opened in 1971 and is located on the University of Texas campus in Austin.
The entrance to the library is on the 3rd floor. There are two floors below ground that aren't open to the public and apparently are used for things like storage and maintenance.
The first part of the library has displays showing a general history of national and world events that occurred during LBJs lifetime from 1908 to 1973. There is also some history of LBJ himself and his family that we learned previously at his ranch and his boyhood home.
On the remainder of the 3rd floor, there are displays of events more specific to LBJ's presidency like the War on Poverty, civil rights, the Great Society and the Vietnam War. There was a moving exhibit on the assassination of President Kennedy which started LBJ's presidency.
The 1968 limousine used by President Johnson is also on display.
The library contains 45 million pages of historical documents relating to the Johnson presidency. Although the floors of the library containing these documents are not open to the general public, the documents are available for qualified research. Some of the binders are visible behind a glass wall as you ascend the steps from the 3rd to the 4th floor.
On the 4th floor of the library are displays of gifts from various heads of state to President and Mrs. Johnson. Some of the gifts are priceless relics reflecting the history and culture of the country from which the gifts came.
The 4th floor also has an animatronic figure of LBJ that tells some of his humorous stories.
A seven-eighths scale replica of the Oval Office during Johnson's presidency is on the 10th floor.
Also on the 10th floor is also an exhibit of on Lady Bird's legacy as a humanitarian and champion of the environment. Also on display on the 10th floor is the office Mrs. Johnson used in the library. It is set up just the way it was 25 years ago.
By the time we finished with the LBJ Library, it was afternoon, and we were hungry. Salt Lick Barbecue was featured on the Travel Channel program Man v. Food and it wasn't very far out of our way back to the motor home.
As we rounded a bend in the road, through the trees we could see dozens and dozens of parked cars. Paul thought it might have been a farm auction or something like that to draw that many cars to the middle of nowhere. As we rounded the next bend, we were greeted by the sign for the restaurant, and we realized all those cars we just saw were parked at the Salt Lick Barbecue. We were surprised to see their lot was big enough to park 300 or 400 cars.
After we parked, we found the desk to sign up for restaurant seating. They said the wait was 45 minutes. We decided to wait, but if we hadn't wanted to, we could have gone to the take out window and sat at one of the picnic tables under the trees. The outdoor seating area even had live entertainment that was very good.
As we waited, we noticed people carrying coolers. At first, we thought they were there for take out and they were going to use the insulated cooler as a "warmer" to keep their meal hot until they got home. Then we found out the coolers were full of beer. The restaurant is located in a dry county, but they do allow BYOB.
In the 1950s, Thurman Roberts and his wife were trying to come up with ways for him to make money so he could stay at home and not have to travel all over the state with his construction job. After trying several other ideas, they decided to try to sell to the public the barbecue Thurman had become so famous for when he made it for family reunions.
Thurman and his sons built a huge pit, and Thurman would go to the pit and start cooking on Thursday nights. He would stay all weekend, sleeping on a cot, until all the meat was gone. They eventually screened in the pit and the restaurant grew from there. Thurman has passed away, and the restaurant is now operated by Scott, who is one of his sons.
There are three dining rooms, and our name was called in only about 25 minutes instead of 45. There are three indoor dining areas with a seating capacity of almost 300 people. The mansion that Thurman built near the restaurant is also available for weddings and special events. The main restaurant is shown in the next photo.
Briskets, racks of ribs and links of sausage are on the grill. Notice the bucket of sauce sitting by the grill.
We were seated in the banquet room which has three rows of long picnic tables. When its crowded like it was the Saturday we were there, you may end up sharing the table with another group. We both ordered a combination plate with barbecued pork ribs, beef brisket and smoked sausage. The sides were so-so, but the barbecue was excellent. Paul's favorite was the brisket, with the sausage a close second. The brisket and ribs were tender, everything had a nice smokey flavor, and the non-tomato-based sauce was rich, thick and a little tart.
After lunch, we headed back to the motor home. After all that barbecue, we weren't hungry for dinner, but we did get hungry again a little later in the evening. We started out intending to eat a few slices of the red pepper/kalamata olive bread we got that morning at the farmers market; but it was so good, we ended up eating the whole loaf.
We still have more we want to see in Texas Hill Country, so look for our next post.