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Written by Texas Highways

Vintage Austin Postcard

Postcards are gloriously enticing—intended to generate fond memories with beauty, grandeur, and humor. The Texas State Library and Archives in Austin explores the topic in Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Texas State Archives. Open April 4-September 16, 2016, the exhibit features about 55 postcards (40 on display at a time) from 20th-Century Texas. The cards bear historical drawings and photos of attractions like the Hotel Galvez and Galveston Seawall and the Beaumont oilfields at night, as well as accompanying photos and documents, including a 1927 menu from the still-popular Camino Real Hotel in El Paso.

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Western Swing musicians and fans will flock to Turkey on the last weekend of April for the 45th annual Bob Wills Day. The tribute to the “Father of Western Swing,” who honed his chops in the area, features dances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights (April 28-30, 2016) and afternoon shows at the Bob Wills Museum. On Saturday, the event culminates with a parade, barbecue cook-off, fiddlers contest, and free outdoor concert. The acts on stage—among them Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Mata, Jason Roberts, and Jody Nix—all specialize in Wills’ innovative blend of jazz, blues, and hillbilly music.

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Race announcers may belabor the phrase “hold onto your hats,” but the exhortation rings true at the 1836 Chuck Wagon Race at the Diamond B Ranch near Palestine. The races (April 22-24, 2016) pit chuck-wagon teams pulled by horses and mules, hurtling perilously through an open-field course, kicking up dirt and careening around barrels. The event, which runs April 15-25, 2016, commemorates Texas Independence and also includes camping, live music, trail rides, mounted shooting, horse clinics, horse auctions, and other events.

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In the remote reaches of West Texas lies one of the most pristine rivers in the Southwest United States. Surrounded by cacti and rocks, the Devils River snakes through the Chihuahuan Desert like a ribbon of turquoise blue, eventually flowing into Lake Amistad. And for experienced paddlers looking for an off-the-grid adventure, this trip is absolutely heavenly.

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Arguably the most monumental date in the history of recorded music in Texas was November 23, 1936, when Robert Johnson created the template for electric blues, which became rock-and-roll, in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio.

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As a road-trip enthusiast with more than a few miles on my trusty Honda, one of my favorite things about traversing this expansive state is discovering new roadside stops, particularly of the edible persuasion.

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Founded in the 1850s, the town of Dripping Springs—just west of the booming city of Austin—hosts so many weddings that the Texas Legislature last year designated it as the “official Wedding Capital of Texas.” But many people these days know the Dripping Springs area for its surprising concentration of distilleries, breweries, and other drinks-related businesses that allow visitors to taste beer, cider, and spirits right from the source.

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Sure, it’s fun to hand-feed giraffes through the sunroof, but there are other important reasons why Texas drive-through wildlife parks matter.

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Okay, I admit it. I still like to play Cowboys and Indians. I’m fascinated by vintage images of frontier days and the Old West. The modern world with all its geegaws and gadgets is stimulating and fun, but my imagination really sings when it wanders into the territory that cowboy balladeer Don Edwards has described as “west of yesterday.”

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For Clint Orms, belt buckles are more than just accessories. The silversmith sees them as a vestige of Western tradition—tools to be used and enjoyed, and then passed along as family heirlooms.

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"Clayton, look at this moth” shouts the poet Sharon Olds, calling to me across the green lawn in front of the concert hall at Round Top’s Festival Institute. Despite having just met her, I am not surprised to have one of the world’s most renowned contemporary poets call out to me about a moth on a car.

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The cotton boll in my hand feels light and delicate, and I easily see how it could translate into the soft, comfy shirt I’m wearing. But, then—ouch!—a sharp burr pricks my hand.

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