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You ARE Texas

Written by | Published February 3, 2010

Everything's big in Texas, in fact, Texas is so big, it's gone global. ;) Or so it's been pointed out in a Facebook thread that started with "Good morning, Texas!"

New Mexico and Australia chimed in - "What about us?!" To which we replied with the simple truth: "If you love Texas, you ARE Texas. That good morning goes a long way. That's how Texas rolls. :)

So now, I'm curious where, in the world, are you if you're not living in Texas now? Did you use to live here? Just wish you could live here? What is it you love so much about it?

Share, please.

Groundhog Day Report

Written by | Published February 2, 2010

Having just made my annual end-of-January trip to southeast Texas, I can report that despite any prognostications from Punxsutawney Phil, the signs of spring's approach are visible in at least parts of the Lone Star State. I didn't see any wildflowers except for dandelions and henbit, but peach trees are beginning to bud and lettuce is harvest-ready in backyard gardens. Best of all, bluebonnet seedlings are popping up in pastures and along roadsides.

I know, we've got at least a month of winter left and probably some nasty weather ahead, but I love the anticipation of February. It doesn't hurt that we're now working on our annual wildflower story in the April issue, 22 pages that spotlight four wildflower drives in different parts of Texas. My prediction: If you don't already have wildflower fever, you will by the time that issue arrives, in early March. Anticipate it, and be ready to take a drive.

Dinner is Served, Trailerside

Written by | Published February 2, 2010

The trailer-café craze that has consumed Austin tends to be a mostly daytime affair, with many if not most in my neighborhood rolling up their windows by sunset. I was delighted to discover that Odd Duck Farm to Trailer at 1219 S. Lamar begins serving at 5 p.m., perfect for "cook's night out" (the "cook" in this case being me).

Pack light, go green

Written by | Published January 28, 2010

We're starting to put together the April issue, and one story about sustainable travel especially holds my interest. The author makes the point that people in general are growing more aware of lessening their impact on the environment when they travel, and she provides suggestions on restaurants that source their food locally, hotels that make an effort to be energy-efficient, and destinations that focus on conservation. It's a topic I suspect we'll revisit from time to time, especially since most places don't expect us to relinquish any of our creature comforts. In most cases, after all, conservation is about efficiency.

All A-Twitter About Birds

Written by | Published January 27, 2010
Winter in Texas is a very good time to chase birds. And, if expanding your bird life list is your goal or you just like seeing unusual birds, this winter is shaping up to be an interesting season, particularly in south Texas. So far there have been great opportunities to see birds like the Bare-throated Tiger Heron has been lurking in Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, a Northern Jacana has been making itself at home in Choke Canyon State Park, a Northern Wheatear is lingering at a private property near Beeville, and now an Amazon Kingfisher has been discovered in the Laredo area. Besides the great-sounding names, these birds have wandered way out of their normal range into our neck of the woods. Birders are flocking to these locations to get a look--sometimes just a glimpse--at these rare visitors to the lower 48 states. To keep up with rare bird sightings across Texas, check out the Texas Rare Bird Alert link or try subscribing to the Texbirds listserv.

A Day in Fayette County

Written by | Published January 25, 2010

Sunday I decided to bird around La Grange. The Travis Audubon Society is offering a series of monthly field trips called the Outer Limits Bird Survey. It's a chance to explore some of the less-well-traveled counties around Austin.

Winery Passport Toasts to Success

Written by | Published January 25, 2010

I just received word that the Texas Department of Agriculture's wine-marketing folks are celebrating the 1st anniversary of its popular "Winery Passport" promotion with additional incentives for wine travelers.

Playcations

Written by | Published January 22, 2010

A few years ago, when economy woes hit the headlines and everybody reined in their vacation spending, travel-biz folks started talking up the concept of the "Staycation" (whooping it up close to home) and its related concept, the "Daycation." But I just now received the strangest email, from a company promoting what it calls a "Haycation” aimed at city dwellers who want to explore the country, assuming, I guess, that all country adventures include a hayride. 

Architecture at A&M

Written by | Published January 21, 2010

I just received word that Texas A&M University recently dedicated its first two architect-designed buildings, physics buildings named for university benefactors George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell. Both structures were designed by architect Michael Graves and boast numerous "green" features, including heating & AC systems that use natural convection currents and a rainfall collection cistern.

Taco Tour

Written by | Published January 21, 2010

When my son and daughter-in-law returned to Austin for the holidays recently, they had their priorities straight: They planned to eat as many different tacos at as many different places as possible during their 10-day visit. Their Tex-Mex cravings began soon after they moved to Columbus, Ohio, last July. And their obsession only intensified when they ordered fajitas at a local restaurant and the meat was served with pita bread!

Rock On

Written by | Published January 20, 2010

Check out Dale Weisman's feature on rock hunting in the February issue. A lifelong rockhound, Dale logged hundreds of miles researching this piece, scouring rock-hunting ranches, rivers, roadcuts, and rock shops across the state. He offers the following suggestions for further reading: Gem Trails of Texas, by Brad Cross; The Rockhound's Guide to Texas, by Melinda Crow; and Roadside Geology of Texas, by Darwin Spearing.

I concur with Dale on the wonders of Woodward Ranch. Two tips if you go: Ask Trey Woodward to show you the gemstone-studded mantel in his home, and pick up a hand lens (around $16) in his rock shop for spectacular crystalline close-ups.

Let us know about your cool rock and fossil finds. Happy hunting!

Urban daddy comes to Texas

Written by | Published January 19, 2010
A few years ago, a colleague turned me on to an online newsletter called "Urban Daddy"--an irreverent,  intelligently written e-mailed newsblast about art and culture (both high and low) in New York and Los Angeles. The items had (and still have) a sense of humor and a rather Esquire-like sensibility to them (read: male p.o.v.). I always enjoy trying to understand the other side. So I'm pleased to learn that the Urban Daddy vagabonds have discovered Dallas. I don't see much content coming from Big D yet, but I'm optimistic. You can subscribe at Urbandaddy.com. In the meantime, if you know of something in Dallas you think we ought to know about, please drop US a line.
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