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Written by Texas Highways

chandor

Painter Douglas Chandor was as charming as he was creative. I’m standing in the foyer of the prestigious artist’s historic Weatherford home, a 5,600-square-foot dwelling adorned with his sketches, prints, and original works. Staff docent Martha Lott tells me that Chandor, whose paintings of Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill hang in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, was at a dinner party in New York City in the early 1930s when a striking Texan with red hair and a provocative dress caught his eye.

refuge

From a limestone precipice at the crest of the Rimrock Trail, I catch my breath and gaze across an unspoiled vestige of the Texas Hill Country. The only sliver of civilization in sight is the ranch road that delivered me to this peaceful refuge. Verdant hills stair-step like balconies above a grassy, oak-dotted valley. When Spanish explorers saw hills like these in the 1750s, they described the terraced terrain as “los balcones,” a region we now call Balcones Canyonlands.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Larry Ditto x0z7226

 Texas is tailor-made for bucket lists. Covering some 268,000 square miles, the Lone Star State brims with interesting, exciting, historical, relaxing, and fun things to do and see. And considering Texas' environmental and cultural diversity, the state lends itself to customized personal inventories of sights to see, thrills to experience and challenges to conquer.

wichitafalls3Calling all brave fitness enthusiasts – the 35th annual Hotter’N Hell Hundred, one of the longest single-day bicycle rides in the world, returns to Wichita Falls on Saturday, Aug. 27. For those not inclined to participate in the 100-mile ride under Texas' summer heat conditions, there are still plenty of ways to take in the city.

Oak FinishThere are things you expect to discover when you travel: new restaurants, unfamiliar expressions, off road attractions. I like to search out people’s stories. Some are small, quiet. Others are ripsnorters. The best are passionate tales of personal bests, quests, discoveries. Outside the city limits of Graham, Texas, I found one worthy of conversion into an epic poem.

DTSite granbury150702 004

As summer nears its end, you may be searching for one last adventure, which is what I set out to find in the North Texas Hill Country. With mysteries, charm, historic characters, and a whole lot of lake fun, Granbury makes for a day trip of legendary proportions.

Magnolia Market

In planning my maiden voyage to the Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, I have the good sense to enlist my friend Sherry to ride shotgun for the 90-minute trip from our homes in Fort Worth. A professional designer with exquisite taste, Sherry provides both insight and guidance as we explore one of the biggest retailing success stories in the state of Texas.

Felix Harris TOTEM

The neighborhood kids called Felix Harris “the Voodoo Man” because his front yard was full of eerie poles he brought to life using broken and discarded objects. He created more than 120 of the totems, from 5- to 18-feet tall. Sometimes the wind would make parts spin and hum, and the kids would run away screaming. Nobody on Ledet Road, especially not Harris, had any idea that these quirky creations would one day help give Beaumont a reputation as the folk art capital of Texas.

Jellystone Park

When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, my family vacations were mainly of the s’mores-and-sleeping-bags variety.

Spring Lake Night Kayaking

Beneath fading early evening light, I slip across glassy water over the reflections of large cypress and pecan trees along the bank. Swallows swoop fearlessly overhead and a fish splashes nearby. The calls of birds gradually yield to a chorus of frogs. A great blue heron flaps across the lake, its neck a graceful fold. The sky turns dark, and at last, an ethereal, creamy light filters through the trees.

Pieous

Regulars who make the drive out to Pieous, a pizzeria and bakery on the western outskirts of Austin, know to expect a line; it’s part of the experience, really. The inscriptions scrawled on the chalkboard walls serve as a reminder that pizza this good is meant to be anticipated with patient reverence. “Food is our religion” is artfully inscribed at the entrance, while another wall invites diners to “come worship at the altar of Pieous.” Here, dough is the deity, and the tabernacle of a hearth glows bright as pizza makers skillfully twirl each round into pie perfection.

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