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Written by Texas Highways

Illustration by Mike Lowery

In a few weeks, I’ll become a first-time grandmother when my daughter gives birth to a son, who will go by the name of Bowen. In 1833, his sixth-great-grandfather was born in Arkansas; but as they say, he got here as quickly as he could.

South Padre Island

In a family-vacation photo taken in the early 1900s, a family of seven poses at the edge of the surf at South Padre Island.

Photo © Hogaboom Road, Inc.

Lubbock earned its nickname as the “Hub City” by being the center of activity for generations of Texans living in and passing through the Panhandle. To this day, the city remains vibrant with life, art, and food, all of which I was ready to experience on my own trip to “LBK.” 

bouyancylab

We don’t want to accidentally launch anything, so don’t touch any buttons,” says David Cisco, a former spacecraft technician who worked on Project Apollo in the 1960s, as we stand before an array of control panels in NASA’s historic Mission Control. The fact that Cisco is joking—the dials and monitors no longer function—doesn’t diminish the awe that seizes my tour group as we study the rows of beige desks and banks of old-fashioned computer screens.

drinks

Visiting my Houston cousins a few years ago, I joined them for a late-afternoon trip downtown to sip wine at La Carafe, perhaps the oldest bar in the city.

gogoIt calls itself “the fancy place in Boyd,” but you wouldn’t know it to look at it, gritty as a Gulf oyster from the outside. If you pass by in the morning, a small sign declaring “Gogo Gumbo!” provides the only notice that foodieness is afoot in this town about a half-hour northwest of Fort Worth.

reduxAt 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, I'm sitting with a good friend next to the cozy patio fireplace at Kent & Co. Wines. While gazing out at the foot traffic moving along Fort Worth’s Magnolia Avenue, I’m savoring a glass of Frog’s Leap cabernet sauvignon, a rare treat because a full bottle rarely falls within my budget. But at Kent & Co., I can indulge in one glass of something like this from a list of about 200 fabulous wines available by the glass at retail prices. It’s a beautiful complement to a charcuterie board of cured meats.

Hico1For my husband and me, Hico has become a hideaway destination when we seek rest and relaxation. Time was when our trips through Hico—frequently to view wildflowers in springtime—meant stopping only to devour a piece of legendary meringue pie at the Koffee Kup.

EsthersChicago has the Second City. New York has Saturday Night Live. Los Angeles has the Hollywood Improv. Closer to home here in Texas, Austin’s got its own brand of comedy show: Esther’s Follies.

Conchopearls372

Francisco Vazquez de Coronado famously failed in his 16th-Century quest to find the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. But legend has it that his expedition across the American Southwest turned up a gemstone that’s still treasured by Texas jewelers today: Concho River pearls.

climbMy fingers were cramping but my legs weren’t shaking … yet. I had a solid foothold but a somewhat questionable grip on a quarter-inch ledge of limestone about 25 feet above the ground. I repeated the words “don’t look down” in my head, afraid of what a momentary lapse in focus might do to my already struggling strength.

masonAs I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin plant the American flag on the moon in the summer of 1969, I had no idea that Aldrin was also laying ceremonial claim to the mysterious orb on behalf of an enigmatic group of my fellow Texans.

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