Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Walk Around Waco - Thurs., Sept. 27, 2018

The Chisholm Trail, a suspension bridge, sculptures, murals, the Dr Pepper Museum, and Baylor University were all parts of the 10k walk I did in Waco, Texas, today. Bob is in classes for two days in Temple, Texas, and I traveled north with him. 

We left San Antonio at 6:00 a.m. Just before Buda, I-35 came to a halt. We got off at the next off ramp and made it through the backup in about 20 minutes. There was a wreck blocking two of the three lanes on I-35.

Bob's classes started at 10:00 a.m. We arrived early, parked in the Hilton Garden Inn parking lot, and both took a nap. Bob slept about 15 minutes, and I slept 1-1/2 hours. 

When I woke up, I drove to Waco, Texas, ate lunch, and started my walk at the Hilton downtown. Right across the street from the Hilton are a number of sculptures depicting cowboys driving cattle on The Texas Chisholm Trail.

"Trail Boss & Longhorn,"
by Robert Summers, sculptor
"Vaquero & Longhorn,"
by Robert Summers, sculptor
A long trail of longhorns along the street.

From the park with the sculptures, the walk went downstairs to the Brazos River. I had great views of the Waco Suspension Bridge.

In 1866, The Waco Bridge Company was granted a 25-year charter to build a toll bridge here. The charter guaranteed that no other bridge or ferry could be built within five miles. Construction was finished in 1870. It was the first bridge across the Brazos River and, at that time, the longest (475 ft.) single-span suspension bridge in the world. Users of the bridge included wagons, cattle herds, and pedestrians. In 1889, the bridge was bought by McLennan County and made a free public thoroughfare. It is a Texas Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Waco Suspension Bridge over the Brazos River.
Waco Suspension Bridge
Wildlife viewing by the river:
Duck parade
Muscovy duck (established feral)
From the river, the walk made its way into downtown. I passed by St. Francis Church on the Brazos.

St. Francis Church on the Brazos

The beautiful interior of the church.
More of the church's interior.
A nice thank you for visiting the church.
I continued walking into downtown. A building as beautiful as some of the state capitols we've seen came into sight. It is the McLennan County Courthouse (their fourth). 
McLennan County Courthouse
McLennan County Courthouse
Entry to the courthouse.
The first courthouse, a two-story log building, was outgrown in five years. In 1856, a second courthouse was built out of brick. However, due to problems with the structure, including two fatalities due to faulty second-floor doors, a new structure was needed. By the mid-1870s, a new courthouse and jail were constructed. By 1900, it again became too small and a bigger courthouse was designed by James Riely Gordon. This courthouse was built during the peak of central Texas cotton wealth. It is a magnificent Renaissance Revival design crowned with statues of eagles as well as Themis, Justitia, and Liberty. Materials used in construction were steel, limestone, concrete, and marble, with Texas red granite in the rusticated base.

Downtown had unique-to-Waco design elements, such as:

Cute mural.
District maps on utility boxes.
An awesome gate.

All things Dr Pepper (at the museum).
First Baptist Church (gorgeous design!).
Waco's version of "The Thinker."
There was so much to see on this walk, I had to decide what to do, and how much time to spend doing it. For example, I love Dr Pepper and I dedicated an hour to the Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute which not only had all things Dr Pepper, but also had many popular soft drinks represented. (If you're wondering why I am not putting a period after the Dr. in Dr Pepper, it is because the board decided to drop the period. I know, it drives me crazy, too!)

Dr Pepper Museum photos:

1950s Chevrolet delivery truck.

Geoffrey Holder

Display of root beers.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG) products.
Old advertising.
Free Enterprise Institute
Meyer Dumore Junior Bottle Washer
Beautiful old seltzer bottles, circa 1930s.
Definitely make time to visit this museum if you're in Waco. This is the home of the nation's oldest major soft drink. You will learn some surprising things. There is a 1950s soda fountain there. I had an amazing Dr Pepper float. The Liquid Laboratory has live shows throughout the day. I made it to the last show of the day at 1:30 p.m. An intern talked about the history of soda, different flavors that were in favor throughout history, and flavor experiments. How does cranberry-jalapeno soda sound? You could sample seltzer water, carbonated water, and one of their concoctions that sounded, shall we say, interesting.
The walk also took us past Magnolia Market. No, I did not see Chip and JoAnna Gaines. Instructions on the walk sheet said: "There is a bakery that usually has a long line that may block the area. The wait to get into the market itself is a different line and usually not very long if you'd like to stop in and look around." I decided not to do this today because my time was limited.

The Silos at Magnolia Market
Magnolia Market
The walk then went back down to the Brazos River for a short distance to the Texas Ranger Museum. This museum is also on my bucket list. Bob and I will come back to check this out another time. There are some nice sculptures in front of the museum
Major George B. Erath -
Father of Waco, Champion of Texas

"Texas Ranger," by Don Hunt, sculptor
Another museum on the route that Bob would probably enjoy was the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Next destination: Baylor University. The walk went through a good portion of the school. The walk directions need to be updated, though. It said to continue to a Giant Chess Board, look at the board and then continue. However, the Giant Chess Board is no longer there. Here are some pictures of Baylor University.

Waco Creek
Sailboat on Waco Creek.
View of campus from University Parks Drive.
Mayborn Museum Complex
The Mayborn Museum Complex features a natural science and cultural history museum focusing on Central Texas with walk-in dioramas including one on the Waco Mammoth Site, and exploration stations for geology, paleontology, archaeology, and natural history.

I walked around the Mayborn Museum and headed across the Brazos River on a new pedestrian bridge to beautiful McLane Stadium. 

Sheila and Walter Umphrey Bridge to McLane Stadium
Looks like a game may be coming up...lots of
tents set up around the stadium
Heisman Trophy winner
Robert Griffin III
Quote from Robert Griffin III.
Paddleboarders on the Brazos River.
McLane Stadium, Baylor University.
The walk finished along the Brazos River. 

Finally, some shade!

Waco Suspension Bridge
More of the cattle drive sculpture.
I was hot, tired, hungry, sweaty, and ready to be done with this walk. Don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful Volksmarch, but I started walking too late on a hot, muggy day. Next time I do this walk, I'll make it a point to start at 7:00 a.m., not noon.

Bob's class was supposed to let out at 5:00 p.m. I still had a little time left and one more place in Waco I wanted to visit: Waco Mammoth National Monument. It was five miles from where I was downtown. I zipped over there. When I got there, I found out my Senior National Park Pass was only good for parking and the Visitor Center. If I wanted to see the mammoth dig site, it would be $5 for a tour. Okay, I did want to see it, so I forked over five bucks. The next tour left in ten minutes.
A 250-year-old live oak.
The dig site.
The mammoths at this location are not woolly mammoths, they are Columbian mammoths. What's very interesting is that the team here unearthed a nursery pit filled with female and baby mammoths. A total of 24 mammoths have been found so far and they expect to find more. Studying the mammoths, it looks like they may have been gathering at a watering hole when a flash flood trapped them in deep mud. The pit is inside an air-conditioned building which helps protect the fragile bones, keeps poachers out, and makes for a good work environment for the archeologists.

The wall painting is not as big as an actual
Columbian mammoth.
Columbian mammoths are the biggest.

The inside of the building and the pit.

I had to leave before the Park Ranger stopped talking so I could pick up Bob after his class. 

With Bob in the car, we went back to check into our hotel in Waco, and then we went out to dinner at Buzzard Billy's, overlooking the Brazos River.

Bob outside Buzzard Billy's.

Buzzard Billy's has indoor and outdoor seating.
Beautifully lit bridges next to the restaurant.
After dinner, we walked over to McLane Stadium (about a mile round-trip).

It looks pretty at night.
Robert Griffin III
Sheila and Walter Umphrey Bridge
Then it was time to go back to the motel and lights out.