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Written by Texas Highways


A small bell tinkles as I push open the door and enter the store, worn wooden floorboards creaking beneath my feet. A tall ceiling soars overhead, and dust motes dance in the light streaming through large windows as I walk between stacks of rugs. I flip through the variety of patterns and muted shades, then run my fingers across several thick, colorful saddle blankets draped across a rack. On a shelf nearby, a pile of brightly striped placemats ($15-$30) catches my eye, and I know I’ve found my Paint Rock souvenir.

Photo by Michael Amador

Sara Beesley, director of the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in San Antonio, thought she might have fallen prey to some strange trick when she first started working at the center two years ago and didn’t see any American white pelicans for a few weeks. “After all,” she explains, “the pelican is our signature bird, and Mitchell Lake is one of the few places in North America where you can see them year-round.”

Courtesy Laning Photography

Kevin Fowler goes for a good love song as much as the next red-blooded country music singer-songwriter, but you need only look at his song titles to understand the brand of country he likes best: “Beer, Bait and Ammo,” “Loose, Loud and Crazy,” “Girl in a Truck.” Fowler has made his name in the contemporary sub-genre known as Texas Country with catchy, good-timin’ anthems that celebrate huntin’ and fishin’, country girls, and cold beer.

Courtesy The Estate of Mark Rothko.

Artist Mark Rothko’s name is widely known in Houston because of Rothko Chapel, a meditative sanctuary built by local philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil in 1971 to showcase 14 paintings by the “abstract expressionist.” Now, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is delving deeper into the artist’s work with Mark Rothko: A Retrospective. Running September 20-January 24, 2016, the exhibition includes more than 50 paintings by the Russian-born Rothko (1903–1970), tracing his career and stylistic milestones, from figure studies to his signature tiered rectangles.

Nita Dyslin/courtesy Charles Goodnight Historical Center

Cattleman Charles Goodnight entertained many a visitor in the home he built in 1887 on the High Plains east of Amarillo. The Armstrong County Museum in Claude, which operates the house as the Goodnight Historical Center, will revive its legacy of frontier hospitality September 5, 2015 with “Goodnight Under the Stars,” a $100-per-person museum fundraiser. The event features a steak dinner, local wine, Western Swing music by Jody Nix, and artists Jack Sorenson and Jeff Gottfried, who will create and sell their work in the historic house.

 Courtesy Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce

September 16–20, celebrate the heritage of the Piney Woods forest industry at the Texas State Forest Festival. The event, which draws about 30,000 people each year, includes the Southern Hushpuppy Championship on September 19, featuring 35 contestants vying to cook the most delicious cornbread balls. Another highlight is the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, which stages multiple presentations per day of feats like axe throwing, log rolling, and tree climbing. A carnival, petting zoo, cheerleading competition, an “East Texas Got Talent” show, and other events round out the festivities.

Courtesy Abilene CVB

Designated the “Storybook Capital of Texas” by the Texas Legislature, Abilene is home to a robust literary culture and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. September 21–26, the West Texas Book Festival fetes local and regional writers with author luncheons and presentations, a publishing workshop, a fundraising gala, and book signings at the Abilene Public Library and Abilene Civic Center. On September 26, the Boots and Books Luncheon honors Bill O’Neal, a Western historian from Carthage, as this year’s recipient of the A.C. Greene Award for lifetime achievement.

 DW 0098Texas may be known as the land of wide-open skies and endless horizons, but not to those who travel east. Here, towering trees overtake sprawling prairies, and visitors spend much more time looking up rather than out. I set my own gaze upon the East Texas town of Lufkin and set out for a day trip behind the “Pine Curtain.”

This year’s lineup of Extraordinary Texans possesses the brio and gratitude of Texans who love what they do.


When Bryan-based Messina Hof Winery decided to open a North Texas tasting room, there wasn’t much debate about which city it would call home.

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Not even 10 years old when my parents treated me to my first meal at Gaido’s, the famous restaurant on Galveston’s Seawall, I figured that the giant crab perched on the roof meant this was a very special place.

Get out of the office. Flee that marathon meeting. Park your car. Exit the laundry room. Now: Find a bench under a tall, green tree, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet. Ahhh. Feel better?

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