National Geographic : 2006 Aug
PHOTO JOURNAL VINCENT J. MUSI Brad Preston's place in Crawford is an old converted cotton gin. The President's Neighbors I first visited Crawford, Texas, while traveling with President George W. Bush on assignment as a photographer for Time magazine. Back in 1999, when he was simply "candidate Bush," the Texas governor purchased roughly 1,600 acres in Crawford and named it Prairie Chapel Ranch. Now people call it the western White House. There are more than 1,400 miles between it and the more famous one in Washington, D.C . Perhaps that's why the President is so fond of it. Heavily armed Secret Service agents and assertive press officials direct and control where photographers can go at the western White House-and when, and how. I'm known in those circles as "the guy who stepped on the grass." That's not a metaphor. Once, I accidentally put my foot down on a strip of the native buffalo grass at the Bush ranch and was severely scolded for doing so. A tiny piece of Crawford always seems to peek out from behind the shoulders of corre spondents as they report on the President's activities. But the town itself is rarely a focal point for coverage. On my visits there, when given the chance, I've strayed from the ranch's makeshift press room and set out to meet the people I call the President's neighbors. 12 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * AUGUST 2006 Photo Gallery View more of Musi's images at ngm.com/0106/feature4.