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Written by Texas Highways


The legendary “marble falls” may have been submerged in 1951 when Lake Marble Falls was formed, but the namesake town still flows with history, adrenaline-pumping adventure, and pie as high as the Texas sky. All of this and more awaited me on a recent trip to this Hill Country hideaway.


Right around dusk, it happens all across Texas. A couple of flickers. A buzz. And then the illumination of vibrant colors clicks on, emanating a hum as electrified gases dance within their glass conduits.


In a darkened room, veterans wearing World War II caps embroidered with command insignia peer down at a tabletop video screen. A map of the Philippine Islands flashes on.

IMG 3639Pecans permeate the shady town of San Saba, emerging in pies, jams, and candies; infusing local coffee, beer, and steaks; forming a canopy over three lush parks; and providing a 1,200-trunk challenge to golfers plying the fairways of the San Saba River Golf Course.


In the closing decades of the 19th Century—and especially after the arrival of the railroad in 1877—many travelers were drawn to San Antonio by the allure of the fabled young women known as Chili Queens, who served chili con carne, tamales, enchiladas, and other fiery fare at makeshift restaurants on the centuries-old city plazas.

OprySomething about the boxy shape of the building first catches the eye. It’s broader and taller than the 1960s-era Texarkana shopping center that surrounds it. A modest sign over the entrance reads: Oaklawn Opry, Country Music Theater. It looks like something past its time, an old civic auditorium, maybe, where Elvis once gyrated. But this is no relic. There will be a show tonight.


We love the night illuminated, whether by the strobe of fireflies or the dazzle of Ferris wheels, and we are drawn to light’s embrace whenever it glimmers in the darkness like an invitation to dance. We may not be much good at the moves, but it beats standing alone in a dark corner tapping our feet.


I am not sure when I first fell in love with rambling through historic cemeteries. I know it was one of my mother’s favorite diversions on any road trip or vacation. Sighting even the tiniest plot, she’d insist Dad pull over—sometimes more quickly than he’d have liked. Following mom’s lead, we’d pile out to discover whatever glimpse into the past the tottering headstones allowed.

John Singer Sargent/Courtesy National Galleries of Scotland

Find air-conditioned inspiration this August in the Fort Worth Cultural District, home of six world-class museums. Among the highlights, the Kimbell Art Museum presents Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland, on display through September 20, 2015. The exhibition spans 400 years of art history with 55 masterwork paintings from Scotland’s best museums. It’s a breathtaking journey across a variety of artists, periods, and styles, from the Renaissance to the modern age.

Texas Ranch Roundup

In Wichita Falls, the Texas Ranch Roundup pits real-life ranches against one another in contests that test the day-to-day skills of working on a cattle operation. Ten ranches from across the state compete in the showdown, which is in its 35th year and takes place August 14-15, 2015 at the Multi-Purpose Event Center. The rodeo events include ranch bronc riding, calf doctoring, team branding, and wild cow milking. There’s also a chuck-wagon cooking contest, horsemanship competitions, and a trade show featuring bits, spurs, and Western collectibles.

Frank Reaugh

Often referred to as “the dean of (early) Texas artists,” Frank Reaugh (1860-1945) devoted his career to painting and drawing the southwestern frontier’s landscapes, wild Longhorns, and trail drives. The Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin explores the work and influence of Reaugh with more than 100 pieces—mostly pastel drawings and watercolor paintings—in the exhibition Frank Reaugh: Landscapes of Texas and the American West. Based in Oak Cliff, Reaugh made regular trips west, and in the process developed artistic tools such as a folding lap easel and compact carrying case for pastels. August 4-November 29, 2015.

Plaza Theatre

Celebrate the magic and nostalgia of cinema at El Paso’s Plaza Classic Film Festival, which screens an array of films in the beautifully restored 1930 Plaza Theatre. Taking place August 5-16, 2015, the festival will showcase 90 feature films, about 60 percent of them from before 1970, including hits like Gone With the Wind and Midnight Cowboy. Put on by the El Paso Community Foundation, the festival will also screen short films by local moviemakers in the Foundation Room, as well as screenings of contemporary documentaries, children’s films, and foreign films. There will be outdoor movies downtown and a screening of The Natural at Southwest University Park, home of the El Paso Chihuahuas.

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