It’s a new year, a leap year. A whole new 366 days to explore the adventure to be found on Texas back roads, on Main Street, and in the heart of Texans who make this the greatest state in the Union.
On my calendar for this year are blogging and photo trips to new craft breweries such as the Karbach Brewing Company in Houston, and established wineries from Bernhardt in Plantersville to the Fairhaven Vineyards in Hawkins.
Minor League baseball will be played for the first time in Sugar Land when the Skeeters take to the diamond at Constellation Field this spring. I plan to be there to cover the action.
I’ll be heading over to Grand Saline to check out the reptilian action at the East Texas Gators & Wildlife Park, paying my respects at painted churches, and continuing the search for the best catfish kitchen in the state. So much to see, so much report . . .
In 2011 Texas highways led me to some mighty fine food, new friends, little known historical spots, and quirky attractions. Quality time spent with retired railroad man Bobby Jack Middleton in Hearne and Frank the hobo in Tomball was unexpected. The thick chocolate malt that I found at The Diner in Corsicana brought back childhood memories, while hearing first person accounts of the ghosts of Galveston, San Antonio and on The Lex in Corpus Christi was chilling.
Coming face-to-face with “Old Sparky”, the infamous electric chair at Huntsville’s Texas Prison Museum, was thoughtful provoking, and visiting the graves of men who fought for the Texas military during the American Civil War was humbling.
I loved touring the Tee Pee Motel in Wharton with its rows of cone-shaped lodges, a throwback to the day when the family summer vacation was made in a station wagon and Route 66 was more than just a tune on the AM radio.
Sampling Dr Pepper made from the original sugar laced recipe in Dublin was sweet . . . pun intended. The Sterling McCall Cadillac Museum in Warrenton was a nice surprise and exploring the historic Fulton Mansion near Rockport was really cool for a fan of architectural design.
Then there were the churches, big and small. The stained glass at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top was “heavenly”, and the tiny Saint Martin’s Catholic Church on Highway 237 was so . . . small.
The mom-and-pop restaurants that I visited in 2011 were no less than awesome. The T-bone steak at San Antonio’s Josephine Street Café easily went head-to-head with the fried shrimp at the Laguna Reef in Flour Bluff. Barbecue at Holders in Dobbin was just as good as the original “pig sandwich” at the Pig Stand on Broadway in the Alamo City. And, the burger at the Chicken Oil Company in Bryan is still at the top of my list . . . well, at least for now.
My Texas getaways were seriously good in 2011. Maybe this year you’ll hit the road to create your own Lone Star adventures and meet a character or two. I certainly plan to keep on pick-up truckin’ across the state on my own as a Texas trekker. It’s just too much fun not to!
Listen . . . the open road is calling. Can you hear it?
Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin’ Man
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