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Written by Lois Rodriguez

65 FigureThe desert canyonlands formed by the Rio Grande, Devil’s, and Pecos rivers may appear inhospitable to travelers driving west of Del Rio on US 90. Rugged limestone canyons cut through sun-drenched desert plains of thorny brush vegetation like sotol, lechuguilla, yucca, and prickly pear. But to hunter-gatherers some 4,000 years ago, this uninviting territory was a veritable garden.

BeesOn a steamy Saturday morning, I park my car alongside a rural road in Denton County. At a roadside check-in table, I’m handed a white zippered jumpsuit, elbow-length gloves, and a netted hat; not the smallest patch of skin will be left exposed.

22-23 DogTagsDuring the Civil War, soldiers were known to pin their names and addresses onto jackets or knapsacks in order to provide their identity should they perish in battle.

19-pumphouseWith the toll booths of the Hidalgo-McAllen-Reynosa International Bridge straight ahead, I veer left to the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum & World Birding Center.

15 FaceCar

On a sunny day last May, the bustle of traffic along Houston’s Allen Parkway momentarily slowed to a crawl comprised of fancifully decorated cars, costumed unicyclists, and lawn mower-driving artists.

33 ReubenSan Antonio has so many historic places it could take an out-of-towner a lifetime of visits to see them all. I made dozens of Alamo pilgrimages over a half-century before I discovered one of the city’s tastiest—and most historic—locales: Schilo’s Delicatessen, on Commerce Street just west of the famous Commerce Street bridge and within bugle range of the Alamo itself.

30 SausageSpoetzl Brewery, founded in 1909 and now the fourth-largest craft brewery in the United States, has made quite a name for the Central Texas town of Shiner.

28 PieCoPie captured my heart decades ago, when it was a menu staple of the small-town cafeteria where my extended family frequently gathered.

60-61 Hippo

Sunburst glitters across a creature-filled pool on a bright afternoon, piercing the ripples and illuminating the aqua depths.

52-53 Tower

Dawn has just broken above the new Davis Mountains State Park wildlife-viewing station, an L-shaped timber and stucco structure with peek-a-boo portals overlooking a water feature, and birds are everywhere.

No20Separated by 24 miles on Texas 118, the towns of Alpine and Fort Davis provide the perfect launch pad for Big Bend excursions, but you don’t have to wander far to find some fun.

40D-cowboys2

No2140B HogLocated in Van Zandt County between Tyler and Dallas, the hamlet of Ben Wheeler has come to life in the past six years as a quaint cluster of artists, craftsmen, and two eateries that also host live music.

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