Last weekend, Sunday to be precise, I spent 14 hours touring all over Central Texas a group of high-tech visitors from Russia. These computer experts, several with Ph.Ds, were guests of one of Austin’s sterling test and measurement companies. Nine folks filled my ‘Burb and a trailing car driven by one of the Russians. Helpfully, the one woman in the bunch served as interpreter for the rest–she knows much more English than I do the Ruski language.

It all began with an early-morning pick up at a downtown hotel. This eager troupe got to behold the marvels of Onion Creek to Singleton Pass and the Blanco River valley. In Wimberley, we browsed Pioneer Village, ate brunch at the Square Café, did some shopping, then took a cooling swim in Blue Hole. There I met Jan Fulkerson, chair of the Parks Advisory Board, who told me how the city saved that precious resource from privatized development.

On south through San Marcos along the Balcones Fault to San Antonio. We stashed our vehicles in a favorite parking lot and ankled our way towards the pivotal place in Texas history. Many people are initially disappointed when they see the wee chapel of the Alamo. What’s so special? I answer that question by showing the bronze monument in front that details the 1836 fortress’s courtyard and walls. The two-plus acres were much too large for the 200 or so men inside to effectively defend.

Removing our hats, we strode inside the Shrine of Texas Liberty. Alas, the docent couldn’t supply a pamphlet in my companions’ native tongue, so I gave them a summary of the Texas Revolution, its build-up and aftermath. Exhibits in the Long Barrack and gift shop helped illustrate why we Texans hold the Alamo so dearly.

We headed to the Riverwalk next, via a stunning path along a series of waterfalls. After more shopping, we quelled our hunger at the County Line, probably the best barbecue on the river. The huge portions of ribs and brisket surprised these Russians, and the restaurant’s decor spoke volumes about the Lone Star State’s legendary status.

North again on IH35, we encountered a blinding rainstorm around New Braunfels. Thankfully, we got through safely with only a little delay. Again in downtown Austin, we collected the group’s luggage and made a bee line to Lake Travis, the largest in the Highland Chain. It was just about dusk when many cameras clicked at massive Mansfield Dam, and twinkling lights far off across the water illustrated the reservoir’s big extent. Bidding a reluctant good-bye at a northwest lodge, my new friends and I promised to stay in touch.

-HR

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