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Written by Matt Joyce

20170814 Amarillo 1074When sitting in a stockyard café, surrounded by weathered cattlemen in sweat-stained Stetsons and busy waitresses balancing plates of chicken-fried steak and pots of hot coffee, it’s worth opening your ears to absorb a few local tales.

Dat Nguyen

Dat Nguyen holds the distinction of being the first and only Vietnamese-American to play in the National Football League. And he’s got a life story to match that accomplishment.

chandler ranch swimming pool 03We were just a minute or two from pulling into Chandler Ranch when a roadrunner popped out of the roadside scrub and ran alongside the car for a few seconds. I tapped the brakes, and the kids strained their necks from the backseat to watch as the spindly bird overtook us and darted across the dirt road before disappearing into a thicket of mesquite. It felt like a good omen.

Texas High Glenn Grieco617In a small workshop on the ground floor of Texas A&M University’s Anthropology Building, broad windows illuminate a faint dusting of sawdust covering tools, computers, and supply shelves. Three historical ship models rest on worktables in the center of the room: La Belle, a French sailing ship that sank in Matagorda Bay in 1686, and two versions of the Heroine, a steamboat that sank in the Red River in 1838. In various stages of completion, the models are so detailed they look like they could’ve sailed in from the past and docked right here in College Station.

nine rivers on rockThere’s something about the summer solstice that inspires adventure. As the official start of summer and the longest day of the year, the solstice illuminates a world of possibility with more than 14 hours of daylight. On June 21 this year, the sun will rise at 6:30 in the morning and shine until 8:36 at night. What better excuse to explore the outdoors?

CarrieRodriguez FinalArt 01

Austin musician Carrie Rodriguez bridges two worlds with her most recent album, Lola, which made both Rolling Stone’s list of best country albums and NPR’s list of best Latino albums in 2016. The diverse scope of the bilingual album is exactly what the songwriting fiddler had in mind.

Ty MurrayBull riding has been good to Ty Murray. But that doesn’t mean he wants to hop on the back of a 1,500-pound bucking bovine ever again.

river 1

“It’s not too often that you just don’t have anything to do,” our guide remarked as we lounged on the sandy shoreline of the Neches River in East Texas, cooling off in the water after a day of canoeing. Across the caramel-tinted river, a dense forest crowded the dirt bluff on the opposite bank. Behind us, our loaded canoes rested on the edge of a broad, empty sandbar, its semicircle beach mirroring the luminous half-moon overhead.


You never know what you’ll find at South by Southwest, Austin’s annual summit of creative industries and popular culture. President Obama showed up in 2016 to talk technology and tacos. In 2012, Doritos hosted a party with rapper Snoop Dogg performing on a stage built to look like a five-story snack vending machine. And in 2007, Twitter famously took flight during the conference.

BikeFest TRIOWhen out in Big Bend for the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest, I talked with multiple local riders to gather information for my story about mountain biking in the Big Bend region. I threw in an extra question for some of them: What’s your favorite ride? Here are their responses.

G Foreman TexasHighways

Maybe you know George Foreman the boxer. “Big George” notched a 76-5 record in his legendary career, including an Olympic Gold Medal in 1968, a world heavyweight title in 1973, and, following an improbable comeback at age 45, a second world heavyweight title in 1994.

BikeFest FRI 396Chances are I won’t be hitchhiking out West any time soon to hire on with a ranch or join a sheriff’s posse. My boyhood fancies of a cowboy life on the open range, fueled by Lone Ranger reruns and imaginative bicycle escapades around the neighborhood, lost steam over time. But I’ve still got a Lone Ranger poster, and I’ve still got a mountain bike. And exploring the Texas countryside by bicycle still kindles my childlike excitement for adventure, freedom, and fun.

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