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Written by Texas Highways

hummerbirdCoinciding with the ruby-throated hummingbirds’ fall migration, Rockport-Fulton’s 28th annual event features birding tours, speakers, vendors, and artists.

DTSite blanco150627 012The Texas Hill Country is full of small towns that motorists can either zoom through in five minutes or choose to explore all day.  Those who slow down to see the sights will be amazed at all there is to discover.  I recently tripped through Blanco (pronounced “Blank-O”) and discovered that this town is anything but blank.

fairpark2tLet’s say you’re among the millions of people who visit Fair Park in Dallas for the State Fair of Texas each year. Maybe you’ve admired the prize livestock and indulged in the over-the-top culinary concoctions (fried Oreos, anyone?). Maybe you’ve taken in a bird’s-eye view of the festivities from the 212-foot-tall Texas Star Ferris wheel, or strolled through the automobile building dreaming of a new ride.

ghahremani TRINITY 600ppiFrom my seat on the shaded patio at Woodshed Smokehouse, the view takes in a wall of leafy green trees and rippling water that glimmers in the sun. This restaurant overlooks the Clear Fork of the Trinity River and Fort Worth’s Trinity Trails, about 70 miles of paved and crushed-limestone routes suitable for hikers, bikers, runners, and equestrians. The trails connect many of the city’s parks and attractions, setting the stage for my weekend of outdoor recreation, dining, and relaxation—all without a car.

What does it take to be extraordinary? The Texans in these pages have each made their marks in vastly varied fields—from winemaking and writing to inventing a new way to watch movies—and they share characteristics essential to any true trailblazer: the bravery to try something different and the perseverance to carry their visions through. And for that, we salute this year’s Extraordinary Texans.

sweeshopSome meat-lovers claim that bacon pairs well with almost every other food. I consider this point of view as I pop tiny bits of a confection called “Sizzling Bacon Candy” in my mouth. This candy’s “sizzle” involves bursts of bacon-tinged carbon dioxide, which tickle my tongue with the taste of fizzy smoked meat. “Sizzling Bacon Candy” is only one of the many curious bacon items available at Blooms Candy & Soda Pop Shop in Carrollton. The shop also stocks bacon cotton candy, bacon lip balm, and bacon air freshener.

lockhartCookLike most Texans, my main experiences with Lockhart have always revolved around barbecue, whether that meant a birthday brisket throwdown at Kreuz Market or a pit stop for Smitty’s Market sausage on the way back from the beach. So naturally, when planning a day exploring the quickly developing town 30 miles south of Austin, I took my husband’s barbecue order before hitting the road.

Old Car Exhibit MG 1185The first words out of my son Byrdie’s mouth when I pick him up from school are usually, “Did you know that… ?”, followed in turn by the latest astonishing facts he’s discovered in kindergarten that day. Lately, he’s been interested in history—especially dinosaurs and ancient civilizations—and so my wife Laura and I decided it would be a good time to take him and his sister Ana to the Museum of South Texas History, which chronicles the heritage of the Rio Grande Valley from the Cretaceous Period to the present day.

tandy

Ensconced at his Ranch in British Columbia, Canada, legendary leather wizard Al Stohlman was focused on his leather craft. Really focused.

chandorPainter Douglas Chandor was as charming as he was creative. I’m standing in the foyer of the prestigious artist’s historic Weatherford home, a 5,600-square-foot dwelling adorned with his sketches, prints, and original works. Staff docent Martha Lott tells me that Chandor, whose paintings of Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill hang in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, was at a dinner party in New York City in the early 1930s when a striking Texan with red hair and a provocative dress caught his eye.

refugeFrom a limestone precipice at the crest of the Rimrock Trail, I catch my breath and gaze across an unspoiled vestige of the Texas Hill Country. The only sliver of civilization in sight is the ranch road that delivered me to this peaceful refuge. Verdant hills stair-step like balconies above a grassy, oak-dotted valley. When Spanish explorers saw hills like these in the 1750s, they described the terraced terrain as “los balcones,” a region we now call Balcones Canyonlands.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Larry Ditto x0z7226

 Texas is tailor-made for bucket lists. Covering some 268,000 square miles, the Lone Star State brims with interesting, exciting, historical, relaxing, and fun things to do and see. And considering Texas' environmental and cultural diversity, the state lends itself to customized personal inventories of sights to see, thrills to experience and challenges to conquer.

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