Winter wonderlands are hardly cliché in Texas.
That's why drivers freak out when the flurries start to fall. We don't know how to drive (or walk!) in icy or snowy conditions. Northerners like to laugh when us southerners become incapacitated by the weather, but that's like a teen laughing at a baby for not walking more gracefully. They get a LOT more practice with it than we do, so for us, it's still new.
But despite all that taunting, we have something they don't when it comes to snow: a child-like awe when even the slightest flake falls. It's still magical to us. Or at least more magical.
This week, friends across the state had the chance to experience the snow. Texas Department of Transportation's Travel Services Section has 12 travel information centers at various entry points across the state. Our friends at the Texarkana, Waskom and Denison travel information centers shared some of their snow photos and stories, so I thought I'd share.
Waskom travel counselors made use of the ice melt they had on hand and made their own shovels (not like snow shovels are easy to find in Texas!).
"Most travelers enjoyed the snow and someone made a snowman on our grounds," says Waskom travel counselor Donna Watson.
Even in our glee, we understand that snow comes with some inconveniences, too.
Waskom Travel Information Center Supervisor Melissa Wilson says, "Some of my employees didn't have electricity at their homes. They had to fix their 'Texas hair' at the center."
Wilson added, "We've had several Winter Texans say they left their homes, up north, to come to Texas, so they could get away from the snow." One Winter Texan said, "It must have followed them from Pennsylvania."
For that, we're (sort of) grateful.
By the way, if you have not visited a Texas Travel Information Center, please make a point to stop by. They are informational havens with sophisticated, and locally-inspired architectural designs that serve the traveling public. The travel information centers also just happen to be staffed by some of Texas' best ambassadors.
You can find a list of Texas Travel Information Centers here.
The cold front blew through and some of our Texas friends found themselves with snow ... a pleasure or a curse, depending on Waskom travel counselors made use of their ice melt supplies and made their own shovel (not like snow shovels are easy to find in Texas!).
Most travelers enjoyed the snow and someone made a snowman on our grounds," says Donna Watson.
A few weeks ago, while visiting friends at their lake house in Kingsland, I finally went to see the American bald eagle nest off Texas 29, between Burnet and Llano, that has been in the news in recent years. (My friend Alice Liles supplied the photo, which she took of the nest last year.)
For my son's seventh birthday, we forewent Chuck E Cheese, and packed up the car for a San Antonio daytrip. Our main destination, the San Antonio Zoo, which we had only half-explored when he was three. I visited the zoo many times as a child on summer stays with my grandmother, who, in the interest of preserving my good time, gracefully masked her sadness over the pacing cats and other creatures in tight enclosures.
A few months ago, I joined a group of my girlfriends at the Blanton Museum of Art for one of the museum's monthly "Third Thursday" programs. We enjoyed the opening of a new exhibit, a stroll through the museum's permanent collection, and live music in the foyer, but the main draw for us was the opportunity to take a yoga class in one of the galleries, surrounded by beautiful paintings. The refined ambiance lent a whole new energy to our poses, and we were able to view the works from a new perspective. I mean this quite literally, as we were standing on our heads at least once during the class.
Looking to put an little extra love in that card? Consider sending your sweetheart a valentine postmarked and stamped from Valentine (Texas, that is). More than a dozen post offices across the United States - including Valentine, Texas - offer special postmarks for the lovely occasion, to help impress your loved ones. This special touch is easy as pie to achieve, and the effort could yield priceless benefits.
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?
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.
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).
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.