Written by Texas Highways
Now that In-N-Out Burger has opened dozens of locations in Texas, there have been raves—as well as scattered “mehs”—for the California chain. But as a frequent highway traveler, with both a non-chain mindset and a “make good time” mantra, I prefer the burgers served at independent joints near freeway exits. These are the stops you relish on the road, places like Willy Burger in Beaumont, off I-10, and Carpenter Hamburgers in Corsicana, less than a mile from I-45. You get your old-fashioned cheeseburger fix, and then you’re back on the freeway in three minutes or less.
Since my husband and I moved from Fort Worth to a ranch south of Glen Rose a decade ago, we’ve be-come impromptu tour guides to friends visiting the area for its hilly scenery along the Paluxy River, numerous bed-and-breakfasts, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and other nearby attractions. They inevitably ask us where they should eat, and we always recommend our go-to place, the Riverhouse Grill.
On an uncharacteristically cool and overcast August morning, rows and rows of Lenoir grapes grow fat on the vines at the Messina Hof vineyard in Bryan. At sunrise, visitors armed with grape hooks will descend upon them, eager for the experience of squishing the grapes between their toes during the winery’s annual grape harvest tradition.
Watching Texas’ prairies and hillsides light up with seasonal wildflowers is a delight for the senses—a farewell to our short-lived winters and a harbinger of the warmer days to come. This symphony of color has played an important role throughout the centuries, its blooms providing medicine, inspiration, and beauty to lift the spirits. Study wildflower folklore, and you’ll uncover the many mysteries behind their names, their virtues, and their uses. The more common the wildflower, the richer its history.
In the Hill Country northwest of Uvalde, rocky escarpments cut an irregular edge across the horizon. Texas 55 climbs north through shrub-covered canyons and across hills topped with juniper and oak trees, starkly silhouetted in the sun. The rising canyon floors and summits eventually merge as the highway tops out on the Edwards Plateau. As I drive into Rocksprings, I get the feeling of being “on top of the world.”
Donna Cummins steps out of the Chappell Hill fog and into my room at Southern Rose Ranch bearing a tray laden with rosemary cream-cheese scrambled eggs and pecan praline cobbler.
Tracy Pitcox still remembers the first record he ever bought. “It was a cassette of Ernest Tubb’s album Thanks A Lot,” he recalled. “I was 15 years old, and I paid $3.95 for it at Kmart in Brownwood.”
The town of Pearl, in Coryell County in Central Texas, has an estimated population of 125, but on the first Saturday of every month it attracts nearly twice that number—and often more—thanks to the Pearl Bluegrass Jam and Stage Show. This event, which takes place at the Pearl Community Center, draws performers and listeners alike from across the state and beyond.
While drinking coffee in my room in El Paso’s hip new Hotel El Indigo, I can feel the pull of Mexico. From my window, I witness how the orderly concrete grid of El Paso’s downtown gives way across the border to a warren of pastel, one-story houses framed in mountains still purple from the sunrise. I watch cars scuttle back and forth toward the international bridge, heading for El Norte or south into Juárez. This is la frontera, a metropolis of almost 3 million people on both sides of the Mexico-United States border, and the buzz is infectious.
Dionicio Rodriguez’s cement sculptures look so much like tree trunks and branches, they even fool wily woodpeckers. Woodpeckers have been spotted pecking the concrete “bark” hoping to find a tasty insect lurking within the rails of Rodriguez’s footbridge in Brackenridge Park or his bus-stop palapa at the corner of Broadway and Patterson.