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Eastland sits next to Interstate 20, about 1.5 hours west of Fort Worth (and about the same distance east of Abilene). The town square -- anchored by the Eastland County Courthouse -- lies one mile from the Interstate, and just off the square, on Lamar Street, is where you'll find the Majestic Theater. The city owns the theater and it shows current films four nights a week -- Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Even if you don't make time for a movie at the Majestic, take a few minutes to drive to the square and see the theater. Walk around the corner to visit the restored Connellee Hotel (now the civic center) or stop in at the historic Eastland Hotel (next door to the Majestic). Note that you can see the Majestic's multi-story marquee in the September Texas Highways cover photo. email this Share on Facebook Like this at Facebook! twitter Add this anywhere

Even though travel destinations are the focus of Texas Highways magazine, almost every traveler relies on some kind of travel service as well. I was reminded of this fact yesterday, when I received a note from Linda Lane, the owner of Almost Home Pet Retreat in Conroe. She described her operation in which the dogs roam freely in a no-cage setting and asked if Texas Highways published articles on such topics. The short answer is "No, we cover destinations only." But then, I certainly rest easier knowing our nutty little Australian cattle dog, Sara, is in the care of the friendly folks at Taurus Training while Helen and I are away from home. Should Texas Highways include coverage of travel services? 

I'm a fan of Patagonia outfitters not only because the company designs and manufactures amazing gear but also because the folks at Patagonia have set a high standard for accountability and a commitment to causes they believe in. When you visit the web site ( click on the Environmentalism button to learn more about the company's projects. And if you're near a Patagonia store (in Texas, that means downtown Austin at 316 Congress Ave) enter the contest to win a birding trip to the Rio Grande Valley, a Big Bend rafting trip outfitted by Far Flung Adventures, or a fat gift certificate.
Back in August of 2008, my Up Front column included a photograph of the abandoned and derelict Mosheim school, an Alamo-like building located about eight miles west of Valley Mills at the intersection of FM 217 and FM 215. TH reader Elliot Herndon sent us the photograph, and Phil Murphy of the TxDOT Waco Maintenance Office identified it at the request of photo librarian Anne Cook. Now it turns out the building is scheduled for demolition. The April 9, 2009 edition of the Valley Mills Progress (mailed to me anonymously) presents a front page photo of the school building with a story about the proposed demolition, explaining that the owner can't afford to repair or protect the structure.
Everyone who visits the long-shuttered Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells hopes for a revival of this voluptuous landmark that dates back to the Roaring 20s. All lament the empty swimming pool, the broken windows, and the generally forlorn visage of the once-lavish destination for "taking the waters" and generally living the high life. Now there's a glimmer of hope. At last week's Texas Travel Counselors Conference in San Angelo, I spoke with Ninfa Holly of Mineral Wells who shared the news that an investor group has taken an interest in the hotel and has plans to refurbish up to 120 rooms for stage one of a building renovation. Cross your fingers that this project will work. If you'd like more details, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 940 / 325 - 2557.

Over coffee at Sweetish Hill on West 6th St in Austin, Architect Hal Box shared his thoughts on the new book he's writing about plazas in Mexico. He and coauthor Logan Wagner (Texas A&M University School of Architecture) have measured 90 plazas and have an extensive collection of drawings and photographs to accompany the drawings.

We're excited about the February issue of Texas Highways (which is in the mail). This issue includes feature articles about Marfa, Fort Davis and the Big Bend Ranch State Park.

The wide release of Danny Boyle's film, Slumdog Millionaire, as well as the attention the film attracts, takes me back to the Austin Film Festival ( in October, which honored Boyle this year and screened Slumdog Millionaire.

If you haven't seen the Texas pageant in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, it offers an unexpected opportunity to relax. Not to take anything away from the pageant itself, because the performances are entertaining and memorable, but I  have to admit, the action on stage took a back seat to my enjoyment of the dramatic setting (pun definitely intended). I had the chance to make a presentation to the Midwest Travel Writers Association, and host Eric Miller ferried the group on the 30-minute drive to enjoy the performance. We enjoyed a clear evening enhanced by a cool breeze coursing through the open-air amphitheater, so the heat of the summer day was forgotten. In fact, it was cool enough that a cup of coffee was a perfect warm-up. And even a jolt of caffeine couldn't nudge me out of my serene mood. As the warm colors of the canyon walls cooled with the fading daylight faded, the sky transformed itself into a starry black blanket. I don't know if anyone else saw the shooting star (I half expected a gasp from the audience) but it seemed like it completed its bright arc right on cue.

Experience now tells me that no building can contain the legendary persona of Willie Nelson. I say this in spite of the fact that, when photographer Griff Smith and I idled backstage of the new Night Life Theater in Carl's Corner on I35E just north of Hillsboro, the space seemed big enough to handle most any event.

No one enjoys working like Tony Bennett does. The American music icon drew an amazingly diverse crowd to San Antonio's Municipal Auditorium not long ago — all ages seem mesmerized by his beaming, exuberant, stage presence that radiates the pleasure he takes in the crowd and in performing.

Sunday morning. 8 am. The topic is "Food as Art." And the venue is the self-service "gallery" in the Whole Foods flagship Austin store between 5th and 6th at Lamar. Warning: the exhibit is only good for about 20 minutes, so you have to be quick.

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