Travel and friends add up to more next times

When Dr. Jan Meyer occupied the briefing room podium, there was no audience when she wanted to make a speech

While visiting the George W Bush Presidential Center, Dr. Jan Meyer practiced giving and receiving good presidential news!
By : 
Dr. Jan Meyer
Biker's Diary

Last week we went to Texas, a trip made special because we visited friends. Texas is known for doing things up right — and big — and the airport fulfills that expectation, even though exiting, and later entering, the car rental facility did not! But then we were off for adventure!

The first stop was to visit Dennie and Rocky who are wintering in a small town out in the country. It is surrounded by beautiful farms, or maybe called ranches down there, many surrounded by fields with stunning white fences. The wild bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush were starting to bloom, giving a beautiful hint of the coming profusion of wildflowers.

Every really small town — and there were a lot of them close by — seemed to have about three restaurants. By the end of our visit, I felt as if we had eaten heartily at every one of them. Most of these locales were in some stage of preparation for an upcoming antique show, with tents popping up everywhere. One town, Round Top, is the origin and center of the activities and known worldwide for this show, attracting antique vendors and buyers from all over the world.

It has been so successful over the many years of its existence that it has spread around the area. I was curious as to where all of those visitors were going to eat. Yes, there seemed to be a lot of restaurants overall, but hardly enough to accommodate that many visitors. We missed the show by about ten days, which was a good thing or we would have been standing in line to get into a restaurant, any restaurant.

One day we went to visit the Painted Churches of Texas. In total there are about 20 of them in this “deep heart of Texas,” and all are on the National Register of Historic Places. Their origin was with the German and Czech immigrants of the early 1860s who missed the colors and designs of the churches they’d left behind. They worked to resolve that loss by recreating the churches in Texas.

One interesting note is that on the outside, the buildings are pretty unassuming and pretty plain. But, each is another world inside. Each seems to be known for something distinctive, such as its stained glass windows, or its magnificent paintings, or its incredible statues, or the primary color used inside. One is the “Queen of the Painted Churches,” and is also called the pink one. We visited three of the five in that area, all of which were feasts for the eyes. We left some to visit next time.

Of course we had to visit the unique shops in some of these towns. I have a small poster framed on a closet wall that says “Jewelry makes a moment — one piece for every place you’ve been!” So my souvenir for the trip was some jewelry I found in, where else, an antique shop.

We also had the good fortune to visit Winedale, which is also a fascinating place. It was conceived and financed by “Houston philanthropist Miss Ima Hogg as a laboratory for university students to explore a variety of disciplines….” It is a collection of furniture and buildings dedicated to collecting, preserving and exploring, and to help “make it possible to keep the stories we tell each other — about our identities, culture and origins — rooted in fact.” It also deserved more time than we devoted, but being early in the season, not all of the buildings were open to visitors. It got added to the “next time” list, along with the Texas Cotton Gin Museum.

On the drive back to Dallas, we made a stop at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which was a fascinating place and also worth more time than we spent there. We toured, and toured, and took the walk to the burial site of both Bush41 and Barbara, along with their daughter, Robin. Visiting presidential libraries is a great way to learn about and better understand both the office and the person.

In the “Big D” area, we visited Marge and Hyatt King. There we also ate well and too much, both at home and out at restaurants with their daughter, Heather, who lives in a close suburb. When we were there the last time — about ten years ago — we toured the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium, which was phenomenal.

This time we toured the new Cowboys’ practice facility, and it was fascinating. The tour guide was very good and extremely knowledgeable about all things Cowboys. The facility is used by the local school districts and not just for football. There are both indoor and outdoor fields, plus everything imaginable to support the game. Because my strong interest is on the human factors side, I found it fascinating to consider the values, such as respect and integrity, that are the off-field expectations for its individuals. Then, on another wall, were listed expectations for the game, “fight” being a representative one. I thought that it must be a challenge for leaders to balance the two!

We had another great opportunity, this one to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library. It was very interactive and high tech. One highlight was the room in which participants were given the information about a situation from his presidency, then asked what our decision would be. Visitors can select which of four areas of presidential responsibility they would like to experience. It too provided a wealth of insight into both the office and the person, and also gets a spot on the Next Time List.

For the whole trip it seemed we were busy every minute. I didn’t get any more jewelry souvenirs, but maybe that too goes on the list for Next Time.