Uphill In The Lone Star State

Roundtable discussion on the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) on the bi-partisan opposition to the abortion mandate on the House health care bill.
Most people have an image of Texas as flat, desolate, and in the summer - brutally hot. Well in the Southwest, you can't do much about the heat, but there is a very cool area to visit that will take your mind off the temperature and perhaps change those preconceptions about the Lone Star State.

For the last installment of The Early Show's 13-part series, Best of America, National Correspondent Thalia Assuras took the high road, traveling in the Hill Country.

Texas has more highways than any other state, but the secret is to take the back roads and take it slow. One of the prettiest drives around is in the Texas Hill Country, an area that stretches just west of Austin and north of San Antonio.

A lot of folks who visit San Antonio rush to the Alamo, the Riverwalk, or bring their kids to the Six Flags amusement park. If you want big crowds, that's where you'll find them. If you want to avoid the crowds, and see the true Texas, venture out to the Hill Country. It's a feast for the senses.

Assuras introducesa us to authentic Texas barbecue, soothing Texas music, and incredible scenery. The Hill Country gave birth to President Lyndon B. Johnson, whose LBJ Ranch is open to the public. The former president is buried there, and former first lady Lady Bird Johnson still lives at what once was known as the Texas White House.

Places to visit:

  • Pedernales Falls State Park, about 30 miles west of Austin. It's a place of immense beauty and natural scenery.
  • Llano, Texas, about 70 miles northwest of Austin. It's the home to Cooper's BBQ, a local favorite.
  • Johnson City, about 45 miles west of Austin. The town was named for LBJ's grandfather. It's where LBJ was born, returned to every chance he could, and where he died 31 years ago. It's an impressive place, and many in town still have vivid memories of the former president.
  • Luckenbach, Texas. This town was made famous by a country music song. Luckenbach is about 20 miles west of Johnson City, and it's well worth a visit for its music and its characters. Every Wednesday night, guitarists and fiddlers from all over the Hill Country perform for free. The town has only three permanent residents.

You will rarely climb more than a 1,000 feet into the hills of Texas that make up the Hill Country, but it's like another world, with ancient rocks, magnificent trees, and a wealth of culture.