This morning my fellow Cen-Tex members began arriving in Johnson City for our regular campout. Several of our members are still in Colorado; there were only twelve of us at this rally.
This morning we visited the Science Mill. Upon entering the museum we were given an avatar passport. We held it up to a tablet and answered a few questions; then we selected the characteristics that we wanted for our avatars. We could then hold the passport up to a tablet at each exhibit to see our avatars in 3D.
The Science Mill is a museum housed in a refurbished mill offering interactive science exhibits and events. They are geared toward students but they are interesting for adults, too. The installations blend art, kinetic technology, augmented reality and computer gaming. The current 3D theater showing was “Flying Monsters” by National Geographic. I took that with a large grain of salt!
My favorite exhibit was the Silo of McKays. It is a multidimensional art installation, created by local artist McKay Otto, blending art and science. Seven abstract paintings hang above seven Tibetan singing bowls in the 40-foot silo. The space is carefully lit to enhance the paintings, which reflect the presence of Eastern medicine’s chakra energy centers when the lights are turned off. They were more beautiful in the darkness than in the light. We all had a chance to stand in the center of the floor and to say something so we could hear our voices as totally different than they normally are.
The feed mill which was built in 1880 as a steam grist mill and cotton gin featured unique mechanical innovations that were used to process, sort and distribute grain to the rural community. The original steam mill was converted to a flour mill in 1901 and later was converted to electrical power and evolved into a feed mill in the 1930’s. The mill ceased operation in the 1980’s and was converted into a restaurant and entertainment complex. Most of the site and the mill have been dormant for the past 20 years.
After our tour we had lunch in the Lady Bird Lane Café, a small farm-to-table restaurant dedicated to offering lunches using local and regional ingredients. They focus on organic and all-natural products. Their menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, flat breads, small bites and desserts. All are made from scratch.
Tonight we drove to Marble Falls to have dinner and listen to music at Doc’s Fish Shack. The food and service were good, as was the music.
This morning Ruth Stehling cooked breakfast for us – and what a bountiful feast it was!
After breakfast we went to the Johnson Settlement for a walking tour. In the late 1850s, Samuel Ealy Johnson, Sr., President Johnson’s grandfather, settled with his brother Tom in a one-room log cabin on 320 acres. It later became headquarters for the largest cattle-driving operation in seven counties. Soon after President Johnson retired from office, the National Park Service, with funds donated by LBJ, purchased the Johnson Settlement area. Four of the original buildings are still standing: the log cabin, a barn built by German immigrant John Bruckner and a cooler house built by James Polk Johnson, Samuel Ealy Johnson’s nephew and namesake of Johnson City.
Our last stop was at President Johnson’s boyhood home in Johnson City. It has been restored to the way it was in the 1920s. It was one of the nicest houses in Johnson City at that time. Our very knowledgeable ranger was a young lady from North Carolina.