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Written by Texas Highways

HornsNorth of the Hill Country, but south of the Panhandle; west of North Texas, but east of West Texas, is a region that can only be described as “Big Country.” It’s a land of rugged prairies and epic stories as legendary as Texas itself. I headed to the heart of this region to explore its biggest and most fabled city—Abilene.

Fran Stallings, Courtesy Paul Porter

March 12-15 at the Denton Civic Center, the Texas Storytelling Festival honors the ancient craft of storytelling with performances and workshops for children and adults. The event features about 35 “tellers” weaving tales about everything from ghosts to urban life to American Indians. “It’s very nurturing to have the opportunity to listen and imagine without a lot of visual stimulation, to just embrace the story and make the pictures in your own mind,” says Elizabeth Ellis, a featured storyteller and artistic director for the event. “It’s something humankind has done for hundreds and hundreds of years.” Call 940/380-9320.

Courtesy Tyler Convention & Visitors Bureau

Tyler celebrates the arrival of spring on weekends March 20-April 5 with its 56th Annual Azalea and Spring Flower Trail. Two driving and walking trails featuring azalea gardens are the main attraction, but the city rounds out the season with dozens of special events. Among the most popular are historic home tours, the Rose City Artisans & Flower Market, and the Beauty and the Beast Bicycle Tour.

Courtesy SALHA

Join the San Antonio Living History Association as it honors the anniversary of the March 6, 1836, Alamo battle with events at Alamo Plaza. The “Dawn at the Alamo” ceremony at 6 a.m. March 6 includes the lighting of 13 candles for the 13 days of the Alamo siege, a reconciliation peace prayer, and a salute to the fallen on each side. On March 7-8, the association will present reenactments of Santa Anna’s order to attack the Texian defenders, as well as a battle reenactment with muskets, cannons, and smoke.

Courtesy National Museum of the Pacific War

With machine guns, tanks, explosives, and a flamethrower, Fredericksburg’s National Museum of the Pacific War extends its portrayal of World War II to the battlefield with the Pacific Combat Living History Program. About 40 reenactors participate in the staged battle at the museum’s Pacific Combat Zone. The 90-minute presentation starts with a weapons demonstration and discussion of tactics, and culminates with American troops storming a Japanese stronghold. The program is at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. March 14-15, and repeats one weekend per month through November (except June). Call 830/997-8600.

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The Lone Star State has long celebrated its Wild West history—the gritty pioneers, the proud Native Americans, and the hardened lawmen who fought to establish frontier law and order. Perhaps the most iconic symbol of justice in the wilderness, especially as mythologized by Hollywood, is the U.S. Cavalry charging forward on horseback to save the day. Commemorating the history and heritage of the African Americans among the Cavalry is the primary mission of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston.

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Imagine yourself in Fort Stockton’s adobe Grey Mule Saloon, around 1894. Sidle up to the bar and order a shot of whiskey, but keep an eye out for trouble while you imbibe. Cowboys, sodbusters, and hot-headed gunslingers—drinking, smoking, cussing, gambling, and spoiling for a fight—pack this Wild West saloon.

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A busy work week behind us, my husband and I headed west from Fort Worth late on a Friday afternoon for a relaxing weekend of dining and
adventure in Brownwood. “You can eat chicken-fried steak here in Cowtown without driving 150 miles,” our confounded friends at home suggested.

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Although craft beer-making has flourished in Texas for decades now, the Big Bend region has been slow to benefit, only recently welcoming the arrival of a sustainable local brewery.

IMG 1561V2Most people think to visit Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in the spring, when Mother Nature rolls out her most outrageous show of color.

141109 1830If you’ve ever driven across the Sidney Sherman Bridge in East Houston, you’ve likely taken notice of the incredible sweeping views of the Houston Ship Channel. Located where Interstate 610 crosses the expanded Buffalo Bayou, the 135-foot-tall freeway overpass affords an urban panorama of one of the largest ports in the world.

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While the Texas Hill Country and the Panhandle have grown popular for wine touring, I’m here to make a case for a culinary-viticulture escape to the East Texas Piney Woods.

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