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Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper travel show on PBS; (Photo courtesy The Daytripper with Chet Garner)

Officially, Llano is known as the “Deer Capital of Texas.” But what is a daytripper to do in this Hill Country hideaway when it isn’t deer-hunting season? I set out for the day determined to find out.

Published in Daytripper

Reflections of past and future grandeur: The Baker Hotel, which has been closed since the early 1970s, awaits restoration in Mineral Wells. (Photos by Kevin Stillman)

A simple postcard inspired me to embark on an unexpected journey. In the early 1980s, I chanced upon a colorful postcard of A Mineral Wells’ Crazy Water Hotel, depicted in its 1930s heyday. Curious about the town’s history, I did some research. It wasn’t long before I had developed a healthy obsession with Texas’ once-booming spa towns, where celebrities and common folks alike gathered to “take the waters.” The ritual of quaffing and immersing one’s mortal vessel in heavily-mineralized water was regarded up to the 1940s and ’50s as nature’s remedy for conditions ranging from sluggishness to insanity. The Palo Pinto County town of Mineral Wells, in particular, became known as the happy spot “Where America Drinks Its Way to Health,” due to the high mineral content of its water, some zesty promotional campaigns, a picturesque setting in a valley of small hills, and several elegant resort hotels.

Published in TRAVEL
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