Written by Texas Highways
Calling all brave fitness enthusiasts – the 35th annual Hotter’N Hell Hundred, one of the longest single-day bicycle rides in the world, returns to Wichita Falls on Saturday, Aug. 27. For those not inclined to participate in the 100-mile ride under Texas' summer heat conditions, there are still plenty of ways to take in the city.
There are things you expect to discover when you travel: new restaurants, unfamiliar expressions, off road attractions. I like to search out people’s stories. Some are small, quiet. Others are ripsnorters. The best are passionate tales of personal bests, quests, discoveries. Outside the city limits of Graham, Texas, I found one worthy of conversion into an epic poem.
As summer nears its end, you may be searching for one last adventure, which is what I set out to find in the North Texas Hill Country. With mysteries, charm, historic characters, and a whole lot of lake fun, Granbury makes for a day trip of legendary proportions.
In planning my maiden voyage to the Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, I have the good sense to enlist my friend Sherry to ride shotgun for the 90-minute trip from our homes in Fort Worth. A professional designer with exquisite taste, Sherry provides both insight and guidance as we explore one of the biggest retailing success stories in the state of Texas.
The neighborhood kids called Felix Harris “the Voodoo Man” because his front yard was full of eerie poles he brought to life using broken and discarded objects. He created more than 120 of the totems, from 5- to 18-feet tall. Sometimes the wind would make parts spin and hum, and the kids would run away screaming. Nobody on Ledet Road, especially not Harris, had any idea that these quirky creations would one day help give Beaumont a reputation as the folk art capital of Texas.
When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, my family vacations were mainly of the s’mores-and-sleeping-bags variety.
Beneath fading early evening light, I slip across glassy water over the reflections of large cypress and pecan trees along the bank. Swallows swoop fearlessly overhead and a fish splashes nearby. The calls of birds gradually yield to a chorus of frogs. A great blue heron flaps across the lake, its neck a graceful fold. The sky turns dark, and at last, an ethereal, creamy light filters through the trees.
Regulars who make the drive out to Pieous, a pizzeria and bakery on the western outskirts of Austin, know to expect a line; it’s part of the experience, really. The inscriptions scrawled on the chalkboard walls serve as a reminder that pizza this good is meant to be anticipated with patient reverence. “Food is our religion” is artfully inscribed at the entrance, while another wall invites diners to “come worship at the altar of Pieous.” Here, dough is the deity, and the tabernacle of a hearth glows bright as pizza makers skillfully twirl each round into pie perfection.
It’s a Sunday afternoon, and the rows of picnic tables are quickly filling up outside at Houston’s West Alabama Ice House. Inside, regulars settle into prized spots on cushioned swiveling stools while a bartender in a red Houston Texans T-shirt pops open beer bottles and juggles conversations with ease and a sunny smile.
I’m raising a petite chocoholic. If I allowed it, my five-year-old would feast on chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve tried to encourage a broader palate by taking her to farms, showing her how to plant seeds, and letting her help in the kitchen—all to little avail. “I don’t like garden food,” she pronounces.
Making plans to see a friend’s art gallery show in downtown Abilene, I pounced on the opportunity to make it a weekend trip. That way, I could revel in some of the stylish new digs that make Abilene such a great over-night escape these days.
Just after sunset under a wide-open Texas sky, a colossal outdoor movie screen towers over a sea of cars. In the fading light, the glow of colored bulbs and neon tubes lights the way to the obligatory snack bar, and a light breeze carries the irresistible aroma of fresh popcorn and deep-fried delights like corn dogs and funnel cake. It’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else. Welcome to the drive-in.