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Written by Texas Highways

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Larry Ditto MG 0882

My son Byrdie had been anticipating our planned visit to the Alamo Inn B&B for weeks. The two of us have been birding ever since Byrdie, then two years old, pulled down an unused field guide from the bookshelf and asked me to read it to him as a bedtime story. He’s six now, and thanks to him I’ve caught the birding bug, too. Still, for all our countless trips to birding destinations near and far, we’d never stayed at a place designed by and for birders. Adding to Byrdie's excitement, he had recently decided he wanted to be a travel writer—he’s also wanted to be an ornithologist, a veterinarian, and an astronaut—and he was looking forward to serving as my apprentice.

punoff2Lend us an ear and we’ll give you more corn!” That’s how the emcee greeted the jovial crowd at the very first O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. And now, 40 years later, the annual Pun-Off is still going strong. Shucks, how could you not be a-maized by that?

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A customer walks into Catalena Hatters looking for a special hat to match the one his friend never takes off his head, presenting a photo from his cell phone as a challenge to the hatmaker.

Galveston 0370 2Head east down Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, past the lights and activity of Historic Pleasure Pier, beyond the elegant Hotel Galvez and Stewart Beach Park’s broad expanse of sand dotted with blue umbrellas and beach toys, through tangles of grasses and mangroves on either side and, just past a tranquil lagoon before the pavement dead ends at water, turn right onto Boddeker Drive.

Bowling Museum MAA 180Depending on what decade you grew up in, bowling can conjure some basic stereotypes – a group of men, who might resemble Al Bundy or Homer Simpson, congregating with like-minded souls who enjoy bowling while drinking beer and possibly smoking cigars.

WVO 5571Now 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.

RH Grill MAA 228Since 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.

2017 02 04 Messina Hof 060On 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.

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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.

THM Rocksprings 3 finalIn 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.”

washington 0127Donna 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.

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