Written by Texas Highways
The actor and playwright Jaston Williams grew up in the small towns of Olton and Crosbyton in the Texas Panhandle, but he is best known for his portrayals of a different small town—the fictional hamlet of Tuna. The award-winning play Greater Tuna, which he wrote with his co-star Joe Sears and director Ed Howard, has been gracing stages across the state and beyond since its premiere at a theater space on Sixth Street in Austin in 1981.
On the far southwest side of Houston is a city on the Brazos River that’s much smaller than its big-city neighbor but predates it by more than a decade. Originally settled in the 1820s by members of Stephen F. Austin’s Old 300 and initially dubbed Fort Bend, the city of Richmond was incorporated in May of 1837. With-standing the test of time, the small town abounds with history, eateries, and adventure.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco has just opened for the day, and already nearly 100 fourth-graders pore over exhibits and artifacts chronicling one of the world’s most storied law enforcement organizations.
This trail is as old as the bison routes, I’m told, from back when the shaggy beasts once blackened the plains along the northern Llano Estacado. Over centuries of migrations in search of grass and water, massive bison herds carved nomadic highways in the Panhandle sandstone.
In the Big Bend feeder town of Marathon, a lone, multicolored mirage appears on the horizon. Luckily, the fanciful sight gives way to a very real, if unlikely, organic bed-and-breakfast made almost entirely of recycled paper, Styrofoam, and sand.
A saltwater-scented breeze tugs at the end of a roll of paper towels planted in the middle of our wooden picnic table. Warm rays of sunshine dodge between triangles of awning over the restaurant patio. The sound of gentle surf carries from the beach just across the street, where brown pelicans glide in a V above the surface of the waves.
The craft beer scene continues to Thrive in Texas, and Dallas is no exception. Twenty-seven of Texas’ 189 breweries and brew pubs call the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex home, according to The Brewer’s Association, a national organization dedicated to promoting independent American brewers.
Texas has a score of rock-climbing gyms, but only one boasts an eatery that has earned kudos for its food on a national level. The 5.ATE Café, tucked inside InSPIRE Rock Indoor Climbing and Team Building Center in Spring, just north of Houston, opened in December of 2013. Initially, InSPIRE attracted attention for the height and scale of its climbing walls, which stretch as tall as 43 feet and span about 17,000 square feet. But it soon gained recognition for its café as well, named for a climbing-route difficulty rating of 5.8 (a beginner-level ascent). Whereas most other gyms offer packaged snacks or smoothies, InSPIRE’s 5.ATE Café features a full menu for a proper sit-down meal. Plus, its open eating area, in view of the action on the climbing walls, provides a dining experience like none other in the state. Determined to find out what all the fuss was about, I drove out to Spring to see if the café lived up to its reputation—and to try my skills at rock-climbing.
My son Byrdie had been anticipating our planned visit to the Alamo Inn B&B for weeks. The two of us have been birding ever since Byrdie, then two years old, pulled down an unused field guide from the bookshelf and asked me to read it to him as a bedtime story. He’s six now, and thanks to him I’ve caught the birding bug, too. Still, for all our countless trips to birding destinations near and far, we’d never stayed at a place designed by and for birders. Adding to Byrdie's excitement, he had recently decided he wanted to be a travel writer—he’s also wanted to be an ornithologist, a veterinarian, and an astronaut—and he was looking forward to serving as my apprentice.
Lend us an ear and we’ll give you more corn!” That’s how the emcee greeted the jovial crowd at the very first O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. And now, 40 years later, the annual Pun-Off is still going strong. Shucks, how could you not be a-maized by that?
A customer walks into Catalena Hatters looking for a special hat to match the one his friend never takes off his head, presenting a photo from his cell phone as a challenge to the hatmaker.
Head east down Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, past the lights and activity of Historic Pleasure Pier, beyond the elegant Hotel Galvez and Stewart Beach Park’s broad expanse of sand dotted with blue umbrellas and beach toys, through tangles of grasses and mangroves on either side and, just past a tranquil lagoon before the pavement dead ends at water, turn right onto Boddeker Drive.