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Archive for texas

Texas Mound Builders

By Linda Tancs

“Mound builders” comprised various cultural groups responsible for building earthen mounds for religious, ceremonial, burial and residential purposes over thousands of years. One such group was the Caddo Indians known as the Hasinai, who built the southwesternmost ceremonial center for the mound builder culture in Texas. That ancient culture dating back more than 1,200 years is commemorated at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto, where three earthen mounds are displayed. The Caddo were the most highly developed prehistoric culture known within the present State of Texas. In fact, the state’s name is derived from the Caddo word tejas, which means “friend.” Visitors can walk the 0.7 mile, self-guided interpretive trail that includes the grass house, mounds and borrow pit. The site is part of the Texas Forest Trail Region.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Dancing at Garner State Park

By Linda Tancs

Garner State Park in the Texas Hill Country is reputedly the most popular state park for overnight camping as well as a popular tubing and swimming locale thanks to easy access to the Frio River. But it also has a long history as a gathering place for dancers. Since the 1940s, folks have been gathering at the park’s concession building on summer evenings for a jukebox dance. Arrive early, as parking lots get full and gates can close as early as 8:30 p.m.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Top of Texas

By Linda Tancs

How can you view the top of Texas on foot? Take the Guadalupe Peak Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, site of the four highest peaks in Texas. Not for the faint of heart, the day hike (8.5 miles round-trip) climbs 3,000 feet and travels through a conifer forest to reach the top of Guadalupe Peak. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views to the west and to the south.

Batty in Austin

By Linda Tancs

From late March through autumn, Austin, Texas, hosts North America’s largest urban bat population, a community that swells to 1.5 million by summer’s end. Their habitat is in the crevices of the Congress Avenue Bridge, where onlookers congregate before sunset to witness the spectacle of their flight to catch dinner. Be sure to face east on the bridge or catch the view from the lake below on a boat cruise.

Herding in Fort Worth

By Linda Tancs

When Fort Worth, Texas, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1999 the city inaugurated a cattle drive to commemorate its rich western heritage and the importance of the livestock industry to the city. Still going strong, the Fort Worth Herd is a twice-daily cattle drive taking place along Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards National Historic District. The longhorns reside in the corral located behind the Livestock Exchange Building and can be viewed there before and after the event.

Austin’s Ivory Tower

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest art museums in Texas, the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin is a crème-colored limestone castle set in a field amidst a palette of native flowering plants. The idyllic setting is but a prelude to the interior’s magnificent collection of the works of sculptress Elisabet Ney, a German immigrant who produced sculptures of legendary Texans like Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. Ney also retrieved and assembled portraits of European notables, including King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Otto von Bismarck, Arthur Schopenhauer, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Jacob Grimm. The plaster replicas of her works abide at the castle while their marble companions are located in sites all over Texas and at the Smithsonian and the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. The museum’s collection of art and personal effects also boasts over 50 of the 100 statues, busts and medallions executed by Ney. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum offers a range of educational programs, exhibits, special events, workshops and lectures throughout the year.

An Epic Tall Ship

By Linda Tancs

A living testament to the “Age of Sail,” Elissa is a three-masted, iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland, by Alexander Hall & Company. According to a descendant of her builder, the tall ship’s name was taken from the epic Roman poem The Aeneid, which follows the story of Dido (originally a Phoenician princess named Elissa), who fled from Tyre to Africa and founded Carthage. Like her poetic counterpart, the barque is a survivor, securing a second life (following decades as a freighter) as a fully-functional vessel that continues to sail annually during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. She’s located at Texas Seaport Museum, Pier 21, in Galveston, Texas.

Steel and Stone in Galveston

By Linda Tancs

Bishop’s Palace (also known as Gresham House) is a National Historic Landmark in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas. Acknowledged by architectural historians as one of the most significant Victorian residences in the country, its hint of French Revival combined with depressed Tudor arches, articulated carvings and sculptural chimneys renders it one of the “Broadway beauties” (owing to its location on Broadway). Constructed in 1892 of steel and stone for railroad magnate Walter Gresham, it survived the Great Storm of 1900 virtually unscathed. The “basement to attic” tour offers visitors access to the rarely seen third floor, including Mrs. Gresham’s studio and its panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

A Step Into the Past in Texas

By Linda Tancs

Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, a time capsule of sorts with dunes and other natural formations that look the same today as they would have to the Native Americans and European settlers who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. Owned at different times by Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas and later the United States, it comprises mostly prairie/grasslands with ephemeral marshes and ponds bordered on the east by the Gulf of Mexico and on the west by the Laguna Madre, one of only six lagoons in the world that is hypersaline (saltier than the ocean). The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies and wind tidal flats teeming with life, including the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and 380 bird species.

 

Juneteenth

By Linda Tancs

The liberation of black American slaves in Texas occurred on June 19, 1865, and an annual celebration of the end of slavery is held on the day. Known as Juneteenth, the first celebration in Texas came in 1867, and it became a state holiday in 1980. Like any Texas occasion, food is plentiful. A typical celebration includes barbecue, smothered chicken, collard greens and red desserts and beverages (such as red velvet cake and strawberry soda).

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