All photos above from the Royalty Pecan Farms' Facebook page.
Photo credits: MarkScottAustinTX via Flickr
...And we would all go down together,
Galveston is a beautiful city situated on an island on the upper coast of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. With its warm waters and long stretches of soft sand, it's one of the state’s most popular destinations. But the fun, beachy vacation atmosphere of the city masks a dark history and chilling reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.
Galveston's past holds some incredible stories, with death, destruction and horror all part of the landscape. Tales of pirates, Captains of industry (Galveston’s location and climate attracted many of the formidable "old money" families of the Northeast) and Civil War soldiers haunting the area abound. The greatest legend revolves around one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike the United States: the Hurricane of 1900. Most of the city was completely destroyed, with a death toll between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals. With so many dead, it was impossible to bury them all. Legend has it that many of the drowned victims still restlessly wander the streets, especially in the area known as The Strand where many of the buildings are original to the city and date back to the late 1800s. This historical district of downtown Galveston is known for its architecture, museums, shops, art galleries, restaurants and…its disembodied spirits! Visitors to the area report images of ghostly children playing in the local shops, a frantic nun slamming doors up and down the hall of the Galvez Hotel searching for a lost child, wandering soldiers, pirates. Others don't see haunted visions but describe feelings of heaviness in the air, a blanket of sadness that overcomes you.
While many visitors to Galveston Island come for the sun and sand, many others come in search of spirits. That’s where the "Ghostman of Galveston" comes in! Dash "Ghostman" Beardsley, a paranormal investigator, runs a company called Ghost Tours of Galveston. Always interested in the mysterious, Dash investigated Galveston’s rich history and discovered many fascinating facts from his research and interviews with local residents. His "Original Ghost Tour on the Strand" is the most popular of the tours, although there are other excursions including a Restless Spirits Tour, and a Cemetery tour. Each one provides the chance to visit many fascinating locations in The Strand, while hearing haunting stories from the past and learning about the historical events that have shaped this interesting city.
Even if the only ghosts you see are trick-or-treaters, a visit to Galveston is never disappointing. Besides the lovely town, you'll be surrounded by beaches and marshes, a wide variety of birds (the Island is one of the country's largest bird migratory flyways) and a part of Texas you definitely won’t want to miss!
There's never a shortage of fun things to do in Texas during October. Kids are pumpkin picking, carving jack-o'lanterns and making those all-important decisions about what costume to wear. It's a fun time, if not a bit predictable.
Want to break the mold, even just a little bit? Consider trying one or more of these activities to put a little spin on the season this year.
1. Get to Know the REAL Dracula
(Houston) In case a museum dedicated to death and funerals isn't already macabre enough, the National Museum of Funeral History amps up the creep factor with a few special events in October - November. The Dracula Cemetery Exhibit details the life and death of the real Count Dracula, infamous for his insatiable cruelty and blood-drinking. Visitors can put on a cape and fangs and have their photo taken in a coffin. Other events include a Haunted House, Halloween Car Show and Day of the Dead Celebration.
National Museum of Funeral History website
2. Stumble and Groan and Search for Brains
(San Antonio) What's trending in the world of horror these days? Zombies! The walking undead are all around us in movies, TV shows and....in San Antonio during the city's annual Zombie Walk. On October 27, the city will be host to hundreds of shuffling zombie-wannabes, in tattered, bloodied clothing, in search of brains and other good eats. Why is this fun? It just is! Think of a flash mob, but with a lot less rehearsal. How can you get in on it? Just show up in your finest zombie attire at Hemisfair Tower in downtown San Antonio between 5 - 6 pm, after which, the evil hordes will be unleashed and make their way towards the Alamo. Other than the cost of a ripped old t-shirt, the event is free.
More info on the Zombie Walk
Similar events in Wichita Falls, Spring and Paris.
(Dallas and Ft. Worth) I suppose it all depends upon what kind of magic you need. Choose from the "One Night Stand Potion", "Break-Up Potion", "Dr. Strangelove Potion" or "Plum Sexy Potion". Conjured up by Dude, Sweet Chocolate, these potions are made with chocolate, liquors like tequila or bourbon and other delicious ingredients that are sure to cast a spell. Bewitch the object of your desire with a Dr. Strangelove Martini. Slip some Plum Sexy potion over ice cream. They are to die for!
Did I leave any off the list? What non-typical things do you like to do for Halloween?
Please let me know by leaving a comment
Last weekend, I crossed another item off my bucket list: I attended “Sandcastle Days 2013” on South Padre Island.
Sandcastle Days is a 3-day event which attracts master sand sculptors from around the world, all competing to become a “Master of Sand”. The annual event takes place the first weekend of October which fell this year on the 4th through 6th. It was started 26 years ago by Master Sand sculptors Walter McDonald (aka Amazin' Walter) and Lucinda Wierenga (aka Sandy Feet) and has grown from a local celebration to one of the most respected art events in the country.
“Sand Castle” is almost a misnomer for this event because most of the showpieces are not castles (though there are some). Designs typically include people, animals, buildings, mythical creatures. I’ve always been downright amazed by great sand art – it seems almost impossible to create such intricate detail in something as temperamental (and temporal) as sand. South Padre supposedly has some of the best sand for this art form so it’s a perfect location to host this event. I figured it would be entertaining to watch these sand sculptors at work. At the very least, how bad could a day spent on SPI’s beaches be?
I found out that it’s a bit more than just entertainment, this is true art. The skill of these sculptors is apparent in the minute detail of their work. I found myself mesmerized by the process of carving away the smallest bits of sand to create the fantastic detail in these pieces. At the end, I couldn’t believe that there would only be one first-place winner.
During the event, free sand sculpting lessons are available to anyone who wants to try their hand at it. I took one short lesson and I enjoyed it so much, I took another more “serious” class on my own with South Padre’s sand legend, Amazin' Walter. Maybe “serious” is the wrong word, because Walter is not exactly a serious guy. He’s quite a character. He looks a bit like Santa on vacation, wearing his signature pith helmet and he had me chuckling at his funny comments and expressions. But he’s also a great artist, a wonderful teacher and very passionate about the environment. I’m not much of an artist myself, but I did see that even without the inborn talent, there were many tricks of the trade and things I could learn to become at least a good amateur.
On the shores of South Padre, thousands of sand sculptures have risen up and been swallowed by the tides. But in some strange way, that is part of the appeal: knowing that something so unique and beautiful is there in front of you for that brief moment and never again.
On Oct 5, there's a re-enactment of the battle that started the Texas revolution.
Gonzales Memorial Museum - this is where you can see the actual cannon that started it all. There’s also a tribute to the “Immortal 32” (32 men from Gonzales answered the call for help and hastened to the Alamo, joining 9 other men from Gonzales. They all died in the battle) and many other interesting exhibits and artifacts.
Pioneer Village Living History Center - experience life in an early Texas town. The village features an extensive collection of buildings from 19th century Gonzales. Tours, demonstrations and battle re-enactments are offered throughout the year.
- The Old Jail Museum - houses the Visitors’ Center, where you can learn more about Gonzales and pick up a map for a self-guided walking or driving tour of this historic town.
TICKET GIVEAWAY - 36 WINNERS - ENTER NOW!
Ready for another big giveaway from TourTexas.com?
36 lucky winners will get a free pair of tickets to Main Street America!
Addresses will only be used to mail tickets to winners and will be deleted when our contest ends.
- Each ticket admits one guest.
- Tickets are valid through 3/22/2014.
- Main Street America is open most days of the year, 7 days per week. On the day you plan to go, please check the Main Street America website to ensure they do not have any private events or unforeseen circumstances that require closure to the public.
In the town of Spring, TX, there's neighborhood that seems to have it all - beautiful houses, manicured lawns, all the trimmings of an upscale suburban community. So why, then, does no one live here?
This is Main Street America. Some call it a theme park, though you won't find any roller coasters or carnival games here. Instead, the park is based around 12 model homes, all built with the latest materials, up-to-the-minute design inspirations, cutting-edge technological installations and some very cool and unique options. Visitors can explore every aspect of each home and get information on a broad range of products, from interior finishes to structural components to home services. And not just the basics like kitchens and baths, but the fun stuff too: man caves, game rooms, family dens, a backyard putt-putt course. One house has a secret room hidden behind a bookshelf. It really is a grown-up playground for anyone looking to design or remodel a home or even just interested in seeing what's new.
At the core of the Main Street America experience is the variety of products on display throughout the showcase homes. Visitors are given use of an innovative hand-held gadget called TED (Technological Education Device), used to gain instant access to information on selected products and services featured in each showcase home. Interested in a specific lamp, a brick exterior, swimming pool accessory, surround sound system component or kitchen appliance? TED will access its brand name, list of features, provide buying information and create a virtual shopping list. Order it on the spot or save it to a wishlist which you can later access online.
Main Street America begins with the showhouse shopping experience but it doesn't end there: The park provides many educational opportunities, entertaining events, seasonal festivies and fun stuff for kids:
- Learn something new - Classes and demos are offered on topics like creating a sports court, outdoor grilling or how to build the ultimate garage.
- Make a gourmet meal - Take a cooking class at the on-site culinary school, The Main Course.
- Or just make reservations - MAIN Restaurant is a world-class dining experience, located in the Guest Center of Main Street America.
- Attend a Special Event - Check the calendar for special celebrations like Family Day, Women's Day, the upcoming Fall Festival and "Christmas on Main Street".
Main Street America is open year-round, 7 days a week.
Admission is $15.00 for Adults (16 & over), $5.00 for kids (4-15) and free for kids 3 and under.
Whether you're planning a new house or just like to see what's trending in home decor and technology, your whole family will enjoy a stroll down Main Street.
It's not just the proverbial snowbirds from the Northeast who are beginning to make their way south for the colder months; many actual birds have already begun their migrations, too. And one of the best places to see them (the real birds, that is!) is at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, Texas.
Earlier this summer, a friend of mine convinced me to do the Neches River Rendezvous with him. Actually, it didn’t take much convincing because I love anything to do with being out on the water! The Neches River Rendezvous is a 15-mile canoe trip that takes you down the scenic Neches River, and it attracts people from all over the state to the town of Lufkin in the beautiful Piney Woods area of East Texas.
Texas is home to many different types of cities – from large, bustling metropolitan areas to small western towns that many people associate with this great state. One of the most unique cities that I have had the pleasure of visiting recently is Lake Jackson. Situated in Brazoria County, the town was built where the old Lake Jackson Plantation house once stood, and was created by Alden Dow (son of Herbert Henry Dow, the founder of the Dow Chemical Company) as a planned community to meet the needs of the incoming employees of the Dow Chemical Company, which came to the area in 1940.
You can learn all about the history of this area by visiting the Lake Jackson Historical Museum. The exhibits and interactive displays are quite extensive and they don’t only cover the planning and building of the community; the displays go back as far as the prehistoric era and cover the opulent plantation era as well. From August 10 through September 22, the museum is presenting a special exhibit which explores how the ideals and philosophies of Alden Dow guided him in his establishment of this fascinating community.
Another nice trip to take while in the area is a visit to the Jackson Plantation Site. A Texas Landmark, the Jackson Plantation was a prosperous sugar plantation on the banks of Lake Jackson. It was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900, and today you can see just how destructive that hurricane was. You’ll learn how sugar was processed in the 1840’s, how slave labor gave way to convict labor, and much more. This year, their Plantation Day Celebration will be on September 7. There’ll be reenactments, craft displays, activities, games, refreshments…something for kids of all ages! You can find more information on all of these locations at the website.
Sea Center Texas is also nearby and worth a visit. Here you’ll find an aquarium, fish hatchery and education center. On most days, tours are available which include going behind the scenes to see the hatchery were the fingerling redfish are spawned and raised until old enough to be released into the nearby bay waters. The admission price is free.
Lake Jackson's location along the central flyway used by migratory birds, and its pivotal location on the Gulf of Mexico makes it a perfect place for the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. This 34-acre sanctuary is dedicated to protecting birds and their habitats along the Gulf of Mexico. Offering education and community outreach, kids can participate in their Birding Day Camp, bird identification and photography. Special events are offered throughout the year. Coming this month, September 14 and 21, is the XHX Event: Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza, featuring hummingbird banding, Adopt-A-Hummer, nature trails and more.
Lake Jackson's natural beauty, quirky personality, and unique vision have earned it the nickname: “the City of Enchantment”, a well-deserved title.
I’ll tell ya’ll right now – I am seriously relaxed. I've just spent 4 days in Matagorda County with my boots in the sand and a beer in my hand, watching the surf roll in and out. OK, I didn't really keep my boots on, but the beer and the relaxation part is true. There is just something about this place that makes all the worries of the “real world” fade away and leaves my mind at ease.
Located on the central coast of Texas, along miles of pristine beachfront, Matagorda County is a collection of historic towns, seaside villages, and miles and miles of soft sand and cool surf. It’s a vacation retreat made for hardcore tranquility.
The beaches along Matagorda’s coast are something of an insider secret. A bit smaller and more reserved than neighboring Galveston and Corpus Christi, they’re also not as touristy. In fact, one of the best things about Matagorda beaches is the quiet, unspoiled and undeveloped waterfront, making it perfect for days spent strolling the beach, swimming, collecting shells or building sand castles away from the big crowds. Or, in my case, just planting myself on a hammock with a cold drink and watching the horizon.
If you prefer a little more on your agenda than just vegetating all day, plan some time at the Matagorda Bay Nature Park, a 1,600-acre preserve situated where the Colorado River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. This merger creates a unique and interesting ecology of river banks, coastal marshes and dunes, providing habitats for a wide variety of bird and fish varieties. With over 300 different feathered species, including migrating and resident songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl, Matagorda County is known as the "Birding Capital of North America", drawing bird lovers from all over the country.
If your idea of relaxation includes some good bait and a fishing rod, you won’t find a better catch. With over 50 miles of Gulf shoreline and hundreds of miles of waterfront along creeks, rivers and bays, Matagorda is a fisherman's paradise. Cast your line from the beach or wade in to catch redfish and trout, plentiful year-round. Other in-shore species include catfish, mullet, black drum and whiting. If deep-sea fishing is your passion, fish the Gulf for grouper, wahoo, red snapper, kingfish and shark.
In my past visits to Matagorda, I’ve enjoyed the birding, the boating, the fishing and all the area has to offer. This time around, though, I've left that hard work up to others; I've just enjoyed soaking in the serene and tranquil beauty of Matagorda and although I feel renewed and recharged, I'm finding it hard to put my boots back on and leave this beautiful place.
Are you ready for a foot-stomping, hand-clapping good time? The world famous House of Blues® is celebrating their 20th Anniversary in a big way and has teamed up with Grammy-Award® winner Kirk Franklin, to produce a Gospel Brunch® experience that you will not want to miss!
This is not the “dinner show” you have seen in the movies of 50’s – this is a “non-denominational, participative celebration of gospel music” that includes an all-you-can-eat buffet, filled with southern cuisine at it’s best! Cornbread muffins, maple butter, Creole chicken, shrimp jambalaya, chicken and waffles -- got your attention yet? -- of course there will be more traditional breakfast favorites and even a create-your-own Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar.
Curious about who might be there on any given Sunday? (Be sure to check the line up and get your tickets in advance so that you don't miss your favorites!)
- Anna Boney-Brown & Friends
- Dana Jackson & Friends
- David Wyatt & Friends
- Gene Moore Jr. & Friends
- Jackie Smith & Youth Development Ministry Mass Choir
Add to the amazing menu a rotating cast of Gospel and R&B favorites and this sounds like a Sunday afternoon that you should be a part of and fortunately, the great State of Texas has two locations to choose from, Houston or Dallas!
It’s July, the time of year for BBQs, vacations and…FOOTBALL!
Yeah, I know, baseball is supposed to be the main event in the summer, but being an ex-high school linebacker, I miss the thrill and excitement of football. Lucky for me, it’s July…and time for the Houston Texan's training camp practice sessions!
Seven training sessions will be open to the public, beginning this Tuesday, July 30th. The tickets are FREE but you have to act fast to get them! Beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 17, you can claim your free tickets from the Texan's website. There's a limit of four per person, per practice while supplies last. TICKETS GO FAST so be ready at your computer or mobile device to claim tickets to the session you want!!!
At the Kenneth Banks Theater, you can see some beautiful paintings done by the late Oren Mixer, the celebrated Western artist, including his vision of the “ideal” American Quarter Horse, which he was commissioned to paint in 1968.
Texas brings you the best of Broadway, featuring many favorites in theaters across the state. Let’s take a tour of the great state of Texas and find out what’s on stage this summer and fall!
First stop – San Antonio, Texas, a place where modern attractions are combined with celebrated monuments of Texas history. Here you will enjoy the grandeur of the ornate Majestic Theatre, one of the few remaining vintage vaudeville movie palaces. It’s been said that the twinkling lights and moving clouds adorning the ceiling are alone worth the price of the ticket. If you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants traveler, head to San Antonio this week (June 18-23) and catch a showing of "Flashdance" or if you need a little more notice, plan your trip for the fall and enjoy "The Book of Mormon", September 17-29.
Next we head to Houston, Texas, where you will experience a rich cultural fusion of world-class arts and award-winning cuisine. Located in the heart of downtown Houston, The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is the premiere entertainment complex in the Houston District. This first-class setting features distinguished theaters, an impressive grand lobby, a contemporary American cuisine restaurant and convenient parking for their acclaimed theatrical performances and special events. Watch the untold story of the witches of Oz unfold in the musical “Wicked”, on stage July 10-August 11 at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
In Dallas, you will experience the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation as well as top museums, performance halls and award-winning architectural designs, arts and culture. Nestled among this architecture is The Music Hall at Fair Park, a nationally recognized venue for Broadway musical touring companies, grand opera, ballet and other dance productions, concerts, national pageants and a myriad of other large and small-scale public and private functions. You won’t want to miss the upcoming performances of "The Lion King", a phenomenal musical taking the stage October 2-20 at The Music Hall at Fair Park.
Finally, we arrive in Austin, Texas, the music capital of the world and one of the most unique places you will ever experience. The city is also home to the Texas Performing Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the most important contributors of cultural life in Central Texas. Make plans to visit Austin this fall and catch "The Book of Mormon", showing October 1-13 in The Texas Performing Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
Majestic Theatre: sanantonio.broadway.com
Hobby Center: bcm.edu
Music Hall at Fair Park: liveatthemusichall.com
Bass Concert Hall Austin: texasperformingarts.org