I learnt at the Bullock Texas State History Museum that Texas was once part of Mexico, then its own country, and eventually joined the United States in 1845.
It’s also difficult to imagine the US without Silicon Valley. California was also part of Mexico. And whilst I knew that the US had purchased Alaska from Russia (1867, $7.2m), I didn’t know that the US had also purchased Louisiana from France (1803, $15m).
Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art was smaller than it appeared from the outside. Walking between adjacent buildings, I was rained upon for the first time in the five weeks I had thus far been in the US.
Whilst finishing off at the History Museum, I was approached by a Texan woman with a walking stick came to talk to me with her daughter. It was a curious conversation that started with the woman confessing that her ancestors probably owned slaves. Perhaps the confession was cathartic because it was to someone of a darker hue. More interestingly, she went on to give me a potted history of Texas, her family and the merits of Austin. In particular, she recommended very heartily and repeatedly a restaurant that did a great barbecue where the particular meat was the best in the world. I told her that I would add it to my list. This conversation looked like it was never going to end. When she got tired of standing, she beckoned me to sit down. At which point, her daughter started telling me about some of the places in Austin that had ghosts.
As engaging as all this was, I eventually had to excuse myself because (and this was true), I had bought a joint History Museum and IMAX ticket and had to visit the Museum of Art before returning to watch the latest Spider-Man movie in 3D.
Earlier in the day, I had visited the Texas Senate Capitol, which is the capitol building and seat of the Texas government. It’s a grand building with fine grounds. You can do a free tour of the building. One curiosity we were told was that one of the rooms (senate or congress) had the seats adjusted so that no one appeared taller than anyone else whilst sitting down.
Whilst I sat outside enjoying the grounds, two young men came up to me. One of them asked whether I had pain in any part of my body. It was a fascinating opening line. “No”, I replied after wondering what significance my answer would have. They were disappointed but recovered by telling me that Jesus loved me and that he was praying for me. I thanked them for conveying this message on behalf of Jesus and wished them a good day.
Whilst walking around the grounds, I saw a photogenic police-like person in uniform. Almost immediately, uncharacteristically, I asked if I could take his photo. He said that would not be possible for security reasons. Undeterred, I proceeded to do what I should have done before asking if I could take his photo: befriend him. I asked him about the different types of police officers I’d seen so far. He explained the difference between state police, sheriffs, local police, etc. The list went on. In finishing, he added that if, whilst he was walking away from me, I were to take a photo of his back, there was nothing he could do. He smiled with a twinkle in his eye as he walked off. When I went to take a photo of him with the Senate Capitol in the background, he turned around and smiled! You can see the result below.