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Written by Texas Highways

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.

TxFamilyEsteroAs soon as he sees the boardwalk, my four-year-old son Benjamin Byrd—“Byrdie” for short—takes off at a sprint, binoculars jiggling around his neck, while his sister Ana waddles behind him as fast as her two-year-old legs will carry her. “An ibis!” he shouts, already on the observation deck, having climbed a few fence rungs to take in the panoramic view of the pond.

(Photo © Vivadrome LLC/Chet Garner)

May the luck of the Irish fall upon you this St. Patrick's Day! To help, we take you on a daytrip through Dublin, share Shamrock's fun tradition, offer an irish blessing, introduce you to an Irish-Texan hero and give you the recipe for a scrumptious Irish stew.

travelmattersapril15When I was six years old I got lost.

WildflowerVu55Nothing says spring in Texas like bluebonnets, paintbrushes, and other familiar wildflowers. Some years these blooms merely whisper the season’s arrival, their voices muted by drought or unseasonal temperatures, but other times they trumpet the news with great swaths of vivid color as far as the eye can see.

Dallas BBQ Renaissance

Dallas is well known as the home of innovative chefs like Stephan Pyles and Dean Fearing, landmark restaurants like the Mansion, and a culinary climate of innovation that goes back to the days of the famed Helen Corbitt at Neiman Marcus’ Zodiac Room. In recent years, a proliferation of creative chefs has enhanced Dallas’ reputation as both proving ground and dining destination for everything from contemporary Italian cuisine to ramen and imaginative chocolates.

But Texas barbecue? Not as much.

KLEPPER-LLANO-RIVER-south-llano-river-sp-2

Shades of an urban beat have finally arrived in Llano, a Hill Country community along the Llano River and the default capital of the Llano Uplift, the ancient dome of characteristic pink granite poking out of the Edwards Plateau.

Paramount Theatre, Austin

In its 100 years, Austin’s Paramount Theatre has hosted everyone from Harry Houdini in 1916, to the world premiere of Batman in 1966, to President Barack Obama in 2014. The Paramount is celebrating its centennial throughout 2015, including a free April 1 screening of the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera, the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival April 22-25, a Centennial Gala featuring Lyle Lovett and Patty Griffin on May 9, and in October, the installation of a 47-foot-tall electric sign to replace the long-gone original.

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