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Written by Lois Rodriguez

Cajun cuisineThe “Down the Bayou Cooking” banner strung above Zachary Taylor’s booth in an oak motte in the hills above Medina Lake draws me like a crawfish to a piece of dangling chicken neck.

You can take the movie star out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the movie star. Actress Margo Martindale still likes to hang out in her East Texas hometown of Jacksonville. “It is hard to stay away,” she says. “My very favorite place there is Lake Jacksonville. I grew up on that lake.”

Armando Hinojosa

Front and center on the grounds of the Texas Capitol in Austin, the Tejano Monument’s life-size granite figures include an explorer, a Tejano vaquero astride a horse, a pair of Longhorn cattle, a man and woman, boy and girl, a sheep, and a goat.

Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann holds many titles with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University in San Marcos, among them Chief Underwater Archaeologist and Diving Program Director. But his real passion is finding out what lies under Spring Lake, which is a state archeological landmark, critical habitat for endangered species, and the literal and physical heart of the Center.

Bill & Sally WittliffSeveral years after the death of Texas literary legend J. Frank Dobie in 1964, aspiring writer and photographer Bill Wittliff and his wife, Sally, purchased Dobie’s desk—and with it, 30 boxes of archives that would form the nucleus of today’s Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Working as a muralist in the late 1980s, Carolyn Boyd traveled to the cliffs and rock shelters flanking the Pecos River near Del Rio to see the area’s famous Native American paintings, which date back 4,000 years.

Harry Robinson Jr.

As president and CEO of the African American Museum in Dallas, Harry Robinson Jr. has turned his keen interest in history into a passion for preserving the story of African Americans in Texas.

Dorothy Huang

Don’t eat this,” says cookbook author, culinary tour guide, and teacher Dorothy Huang, laughing as she shows a dried red pepper to her cooking class in Austin. Several of the people gathered around the double cooktop, where at least four burners flame at once, nod knowingly as she drops several of the peppers into a hot wok.

Alan Bean

One of only 12 people who has ever walked on the moon, former astronaut and Apollo Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean now creates artwork reflecting that experience from his home studio in Houston.

The river rounded a bend and ahead of me, civilization dropped away. A heron soared overhead, Pterodactyl-like, and a few dragonflies hovered around the front of my boat.

It could be worth another look through that musty box of family records before packing it into the corner of the attic, or worse yet, sending it off to the shredder.

Olive OilApparently feral pigs like olives. I am walking through narrow rows of arbequina olive trees on the outskirts of Carrizo Springs with Jim Henry, the man who founded the Texas Olive Council and perhaps knows more about making Texas olive oil than anyone else in the state.

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