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Raoul Pascual: Austin Texas
Deep in the Heart of AustinTexas

Story and Illustration by Raoul Pascual. Photos by Jackie Pascual. Alternative gags by Terry Cassel

t's a typical sunny day in Austin, Texas. Coming from the Los Angeles, California area, the first thing that struck me was the relative lack of traffic congestion. It's the 14th most populous city in the U.S. so that makes me wonder how empty the emptiest city will be. Scary thought.

I'm so glad America purchased Texas from the Mexicans otherwise, I wouldn't understand a word he's saying.


Our hotel was located at the downtown area. I had not done any research so I was clueless to what this metropolis had to offer so the first thing I asked the Info Desk was what people did here for fun. It took the people several seconds to process an intelligent remark. "That doesn't sound very encouraging" I thought. Surprisingly, all 3 people told me to head several miles away to the "nature tripping" areas. I wanted to get back on the plane and go somewhere else. Then I realized these guys must be bored with this place so their suggestions were places THEY would peronally go to. I figured I had to discover Austin myself.
I don't get it.
How did you figure I was a tourist?

At the heart of downtown Austin, is the typical urban landscape of modern high-rise mixed with early 20th century commercial architecture. In my book, there are two reasons why one would go to this capital of the Lone Star State: to absorb the history during the daytime and to enjoy the music at night. You can schedule it all in a day if you really want to.

I had ambitions of becoming a Short Story writer but I thought life was too short and my stories were too long.

I suggest you start your history lesson in the Texas Capitol Visitors Center where they provide free maps and boast of some colorful trivia itself. It used to be the old Texas General Land Office which, as the name suggests, kept land title documents. Now it's a small museum. One very interesting exhibit is a room dedicated to the Short Story writing genius, William Sydney Porter, better known as O Henry. I believe he actually worked in this building.

The Republic of Texas was a formed from the factions within the Mexican government in the early 1800s. At that time, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming were part of this evolving territory. Houston used to be the capital of the baby Republic until 1837 when Mirabeau B. Lamar moved it to Waterloo which was later renamed Austin after Stephen F. Austin, who is recognized as the Father of Texas. Sounds like an after shoot of political wrangling if you ask me.

At the center of the Texas legislature is the Capitol building. Living up to its reputation that everything is bigger and better in Texas, they say its dome is taller than that of the one in Washington, D.C. and they also say it covers more land area than any other state capital. On the west wing sits the House of Representatives Chamber and the Senate Chamber (divided by the rotunda and dome) is at the opposite wing. The way these politicians spend their time arguing, it's understandable why they had to divide these politicians. Our guide said that Senators and Representatives only earn $7,200 a year --- averaging $100+ per day for working a little over 2 months a year. It's understandable that most of them have "real jobs" in order to feed their families. Reminds me of Superman who needs a Day Job because he doesn't get paid for saving the world.


Hello, security? Can you send a search party over here right away? I'm somewhere between the Senate photos of 1955 and 1957.

Gee! I wish my office was more historical than hysterical.
After a fire which started in the Liuetenant Governor's apartment in February 6, 1983 they renovated and built a multi-million dollar underground extension of the capitol building that is a spectacular 4 floors deep. You could easily get lost in the maze of the hallways. I know I did.

I've been living a lie!!! Daniel Boone never existed!


A tour guide starts his duties as early as 9 in the morning (except Sunday which begins at noon) and this recurs every 30 minutes. He shares stories of wilderness-man-turned-politician, David Crocket. I was corrected when I mistakenly called him by his "screen" name "Davy Crocket." Our guide said he never referred to himself as "Davy." He and his fellow Texan Jim Bowie met their heroic end in the skirmish at the Alamo in San Antonio, a few miles South of Austin. Our guide spinned yarns of battles between Mexico and the growing population of immigrants who were to be known as Texans.
Wake me up when he starts to talk about the Cowboys and Injuns!

Starting from the arrival of Spanish settlers in the 16th century, Mexico owned most of the West and South West of the land we recognize now as the United States. Somewhere in the mid-19th century, the lines between what belonged to Texas and what was Mexico were blurred (keep in mind that Texas was not yet part of the United States). Meanwhile, the native Americans (predominantly Comanche Indians) were slowly eased out of their ancestral lands. The Texans started a campaign to draw more of its immigrants to the region. It was during a decisive battle between Santa Ana and Houston that Mexico was coerced to sell their land to Texas through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. I'm no historian but this is the history of Texas in a nutshell.


So where exactly did the buffaloes roam and the deer and the antelopes play?
Okay, they say you represent the people. My question is which people? The little people or the big people?

So if the Americans bought Texas from the Mexicans, did the Mexicans buy the land from the Indians?


Hmmm ... I'm slowly developing a theory with these portraits of Texas Governors. I betcha the angrier they look, the less fun it was to be governor.

For $9 you can enjoy the Texas State History Museum which boasts of artifacts from the pre-colonial times to the dawn of slavery and agricultural trade; from the discovery of crude oil until the launch of Apollo. There is also a special wing dedicated to the music of its local celebrities. If you are into iMax and 3-D movies, there are different shows which charge a separate fee. One tip: if you are claustrophobic and do not enjoy crowds, Friday is the busiest day because that's when the local schools schedule their field trips. When I was there, hundreds of energetic kids were scampering around pen and paper in hand jotting down answers for a Treasure Hunt questionnaire provided by their teachers. I actually enjoyed observing what they thought was interesting.

I just figured out why they call it a gusher!

Ah! ah! ahhh! ...
I seriously think lighting a match is a bad baaaad idea!!

Several blocks away is the University of Texas at Austin which has 2 museums. The Blanton Museum of Art entrance fee is $9. I didn't go in because I wasn't in the mood for paintings and sculptures. What I was more interested in was the showcase at the Harry Ransom Center which is home of the very first photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who experimented alongside his fellow Frenchman Louis Daguerre. I strained intently to see the scenery which took 8 hours of exposure time to register on that experimental emulsion. There was also a seasonal exhibit on the history of the King James Bible and its impact to the world. They say you shouldn't mix politics and religion. But I say, if you want to leave a legacy for mankind, this is your ticket to fame and glory.


with a weird name like that, it's no wonder he needed to develop a new way of printing.

Sixth street, formerly known as Pecan Street, is famous for the bands that come to life at nightfall. Many musical celebrities got their start from playing in one of the pubs. Starting Thursday afternoon, beer trucks start delivering the goods to be consumed for the weekend. Weekdays, 6th Street is practically empty.

Most of the structures along 6th street are vintage 1900's and the walls are adorned with black and white photos of the rock stars of the hippie era. They may look a bit run-down during the daytime but at night they are perfect for the music crowd. Each pub boasts of their own celebrity band of the season and the drumbeats echo throughout the evening. I could hear the festivities in my 6th floor hotel room 5 blocks away.

Psssst! Can you play Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.2 in Bb Major?


I know
who the Conquistadors were,
who the Senators are,
what the Matadors were
but who the heck were
the Commodores?

Each Friday, the college crowd come out from their scholastic hibernation. The beer flows and the sports channels play in the background of flirtatious conversations. There are special events at different times of the year like a Mardi Gras and Halloween. For the collectors, Souvenir shops invite you to drop a few bucks on $5 T-shirts and other obligatory little gifts to remind your loved ones who are suffering back home you thought of them. A few blocks south are the more expensive restaurants. There the crowd is dressed to the nines and wine replaces beer consumption. If you're into history and a little bit of fun, do consider Austin.

What do you call a short message from a former Texan?
Give up?

Why it's an Ex-Tex Text! Get it?

No, you didn't get it or you didn't like it?


Name: Required
E-mail: Required
City: Required

For Austin Deep in the Heart of Austin Texas-

From JRP, Iligan City, Philippines - Hi Raoul! When I was in Austin in 1957 it was a small town. I was even interviewed by a local newspaper & remember telling him our family is in the fishpond business. A Mexican brick layer in the lime plant I observed for a week took me to his houseboat in a lake near Austin & we had steak & beer while we fish. I thought the guy's lifestyle is better than the millionaire I stayed with in Salt Lake city.

For Italian Profiling -

From Pia Hugo, La Crescenta, CA - Hi Raoul! I came here to make reservations for our Sta. Barbara trip and decided to read the Italian jokes because. I have a few from my church. Very funny! Give Mike my thanks! And the illustrations are, as always, very creative! Thanks for the laughs :)

From Dette of Iligan City, Philippines - Always a treat and lift of the spirits whenever I see your cartoons. More power!

From Dette of Iligan City, Philippines - First of all, that cartoon of the lady reindeer and Sta Claus had me laughing loud. You really have imagination, lots. Original too. Congrats. But I really have to thank you for that X'mas story. It touches the heart. May I use the story for my own column in "Mindanao Scoop"? With your name and the "Traveling Boy" properly acknowledged of course. It says below "All Rights Reserved". Does this mean I can't reprint your article even if I acknowledge authorship? Merry Christmas!

From Nina of Quezon City, Philippines - Your Big Bear adventure sure looks cool. Most of my friends in San Diego only go there during winter probably because that's the best place to experience snow in Southern California but I didn't know that summer in Big Bear is a good treat as well.

From Hannah of Monrovia, CA - We've been to Big Bear for several anniversary week-ends and enjoyed kayaking on the lake. But we didn't know the history of the place and we didn't know the owners of the fabulous homes on the lake. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. You make us want to jump in the car and go this weekend.

From J.B. of Virginia - Nice [Big Bear Lake article] ... isn't [the pleasure of taking a vacation] why we are fighting wars, sacrificing, staying up long hours, suffering?.Isn't it for our freedom of self determination ... for our right to live our lives the way we want to and for the ones we care about?

From Tom of Pasadena, CA - Great Big Bear story Raoul. You definitely caught the essence of the place and remind me when my Mom and Dad and 5 brothers and sisters went there to camp in a 14 foot trailer and fish from a 10 foot boat with a 5 horse power Johnson Motor on it.One Summer I caught a 6 pound trout and got my picture in the paper. I was stoked as an 11 year old kid.Many happy memories came flooding back into my cranium regarding the great times enjoyed at Big Bear Lake.Thanks for your sharing them with me.

* * *

So glad you enjoyed the article Tom. Your childhood must have been fun. A 6 pound trout? Wow!! That must have been delicious. --- Raoul

* * *

It was delicious but the fame of catching it was tough to take with all the paparazzi hanging around. Ha! You have a real gift for writing, I thought I was right there with you in that article. --- Tom

From Mike & Trish Marzell of Lucky Bear Fishing Charters, Big Bear Lake, CA - Hi Raoul, You wrote such a wonderful article on summer in Big Bear! Nice website. Thank you for coming out fishing with us - we had so much fun with Josh, you and Dan. We're thinking up good legends and "UFO" is priceless! Please tell us whenever you come up the mountain; we would love to take you and your family out again. You are a great writer (kept us interested). We are going to read your other articles. Thank you again.

Some responses from my Lake Tahoe Adventure

From RV of Covina, CA - I enjoyed reading your Lake Tahoe blog. It brings back memories when I brought my mom & dad to Tahoe in 1999. My dad loved the place so much that when my brother arrived two weeks later, we drove up to Tahoe again. I'm sure you had a wonderful time with Danny, Edwin and their families. Those are golden moments, including the snow chain malfunction, which you won't get tired of re-telling over and over again.

From Hannah of Monrovia, CA - Thanks for your story about the blizzard. It made our day to see how God protected you guys. Otto remembered your bear story--same result; exciting adventure and no one got hurt; but now you have another marvelous God adventure to share!

From Kathleen of Massachusetts- Just read your mini-blog and let me tell you, you guys are very blessed. I won't say, lucky, I'll say blessed. Those slippery ice/snow scenarios are really dangerous. Glad God sent you the snow plow!

We don't get that much snow where we live, but in blizzards, we don't go out. It's too scary. One time we were retrieving our daughter Mercy from Providence, a 25 minute trip in regular weather. It took us 3 hours to get home, driving on the highway in blinding snow. Blinding. We couldn't see a foot in front of us, and if we pulled over there was a chance of getting plowed in to. Never again.

That stuff is pretty, but it's deadly on the highway and for hikers.

From Cindi of Connecticut - A great story and your family has an everlasting memory. There is nothing like home, especially when home is in So CA!

From Terry os Santa Monica, CA - Wow, what a compelling story about snowy Lake Tahoe and the tire chains!

I remember driving my van up to Mammoth to go skiing in my much younger days and having similar episodes with chains. One time a rear chain came loose and wrapped itself completely around the axle. It took two of us, on our backs in the icy slush, in the dark, without wire cutters, hours to untangle that dang chain. It still seems like yesterday. So I empathize with your plight, and glory in your release.

Welcome home.

From Ding of Vancouver, BC- Wow, brave souls, glad you got home safely ;-) Thanks for the TGIF, as always!

From Maria of San Antonio, CA (the email that my article was based on) - Only nuts and daredevils went to Lake Tahoe last weekend. The lat time we went up to the mountains in spite of the blizzard warning, we got snowed in. We just stayed home and watched our own leaks.

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