Texas Roadtrip

Exploring the Regions

Day 1 - San Antonio

The Alamo

It is so hot right now! I have to make sure I stay hydrated throughout the day since I am going to so many places. But I hope it doesn't rain. I decided my first stop would be the Alamo. When I reach there, I go to Cavalry Courtyard where they tell us all about the history of the Alamo. This historic place had been built by the Spanish, and they kept their soldiers at the Alamo. Texas was still part of mexico when this was going on. But the Texans wanted to be independent so they fought against the soldiers and won! The Alamo was then occupied by the Texans. The Mexican government wasn't very happy about this, and they sent 6000 men to fight against the 200 Texans. Talk about unfair! This was the beginning of the Battle of the Alamo. Although out numbered, the Texans held off the men for about 13 days! The Mexicans shot cannons and blocked all the exits, and ended up winning. But Texas wasn't didn't give up after that. Sam Houston's army came and defeated the Mexicans. So, after all that back and forth, Texas finally ended up getting the Alamo. That is a lot of history. There is also the Long Barrack Museum here which I go and have a look at. I already learned so much at the "history talk", but here I learned the Alamo right now isn't what it looked like originally. In the picture below, the first drawing (a) shows what the plan was for the building. The middle one (b) is how it actually turned out, and the last (c) shows the present.

Natural Bridge Caverns

After sitting in one place and listening to all that talking, I needed to get a little active. The Natural Bridge Caverns was the perfect place to go. It is located underground, and very humid. I am sweating already! Aside from that, the caverns were breathtaking. Different formations everywhere - stalagmites, stalactites, and chandeliers of rock. Pools of water where also found in many places. Some rooms in the caves were HUGE! I learned that these caves were discovered by 4 college students. Can you believe it! I was pretty shocked to hear that from the tour guide. There was a lot of walking to do and so many different things to see and take pictures of. Glad I brought my camera! The guide also said that this area of Texas was part of a shallow sea. Over time it was uplifted and dry. The Earth's moving plates caused many cracks and fractures to be formed, and water started running through them. My favorite part was simply looking at all the beauty surrounding us in the room that is bigger than a football field. The video below tells more about the caverns and it's history. Once the tour ended, I thought of going to somewhere to have a nice dinner. The River Walk was probably the best place to go.
Natural Bridge Caverns - San Antonio, Texas - Travel Thru History

River Walk and Museum Reach

Restaurants and shops lined either side of the river. It is bustling with people. It had gotten a little cooler, and the river made it nice. I ate some dinner at one of the many Mexican restaurants. But I still wanted to see more. I go to the Museum Reach where there is the San Antonio Museum of Art. It has many collections of Asian and Latina American art, as well as Greek and Roman art. I found out that the museum is in a restored brewery! The art is amazing and I spent the rest of the evening at the museum. I had a great time exploring the culture in the museum, and on the River Walk also. But now to get some rest for tomorrow's stop - Marshall!

Day 2 - Marshall

Starr Family Home State

Marshall's most popular historic site is the Starr Family Home. A guide, who knew the stuff very well, was giving me a tour. It was the home of the Starr family and shows their 150 year history. After the war, they were able to invest in Texas' natural resource - land. Because of their land business, the family was a major contributor to railroads and cotton industries. The Starr Family Home is made up of six buildings. I am taken through these buildings and get to see all that is displayed of the Starr Family. The buildings exhibit many artifacts and collections such as books, clothing, and furniture of the Starr Family. There were so many things displayed; and it is pretty cool that they have been able to preserve everything, including the buildings. There were portraits and collections of china. It was really cool. I had a wonderful time looking at almost all the household items owned by the Starr Family.
Big image

Marshall Symphony

I was sitting down in my seat, waiting for the show to start. The Marshall Symphony is about to start playing, and I didn't want to miss that. The pamphlet I got while entering states that this season is the last for the conductor. He is celebrating 39 years as the conductor! That is a long time to be in the orchestra; he must be very passionate about music. The show finally started and beautiful music floated through the air. There was an introduction made by the president of the symphony. Then the show actually started! They played timeless pieces by Mozart and Berlioz, as well as popular music from Frozen. The show was amazing, and the music was beautiful. But I had to hurry if I wanted to see everything at the Caddo Lake Wildlife Refuge!

Caddo Lake Wildlife Refuge

The Wildlife Refuge has a lot of animals and plants. It has a large cypress forest with trees that are almost 400 years old! I didn't even know trees could live that long! The forest was very green and pretty. The Refuge supports some of the most diverse plant communities in Texas. For the migratory bird species, the wetlands were very important. This area has some of the highest breeding populations, such as wood ducks, for many birds in the United States. About 216 bird, 47 mammal, and 90 reptile species live here. This Refuge has a major contribution to birds! It was fun looking at some animals and going through the forest. But a number of plant sand animals are endangered here. Some endangered species are - Peregrine Falcon, and the Alligator Snapping Turtle. After looking around some more and taking pictures, I decided that this was all for today. Tomorrow I would be going to Wichita Falls, and it was a pretty long drive to get there!

Day 3 - Wichita Falls

River Bend Nature Center

Wichita Falls is way hotter than San Antonio! I didn't even worry about rain. I was headed to River Bend Nature Center(RNBC). The Nature Center is on 20 acres of land(!). I asked which attractions are the best, and they recommended Ruby N. Priddy Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. It is held in a big, glass structure. There are plants, shrubs, and wildflowers that of the Rolling Plains. Colorful butterflies fluttered everywhere, those also native to Rolling Hills. Many other wildlife were also displayed like, Prairie Dogs and Ornate Box Turtles. I was enjoying all of this when I came upon an indoor pond! Fishes and some other aquatic life were in the pond. After the Nature Conservatory, I went on a Nature Trail. There are a variety of birds in the wetlands. I spotted Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, and Woodpeckers. I also noticed a few families of raccoon and opossum. Everything was very green, and they had a variety of plants and animals. The video below shows some of the wildlife and what to do there.
River Bend Nature Center Wichita Falls, TX

Hotter'n'Hell Bike Race

The bike race is always held 9 days before labor day. This year USA will be celebrating it's 33rd annual race. People from all over the world come to participate in the bike race. Racers will face intense heat, and incessant winds;along with long inclines. That must be hard! The route choices are - 10K, 25 miles, 50 miles, 100K, 100 miles. Can you believe it?! 100 miles! That is a really long way in so much heat. That is probably where they get the name from. There are a lot of bikers. Everybody was choosing different routes. I wonder how many people chose the 100 mile route!
Big image

Kell House Museum

Kell House Museum is my next site. It is one of the most historically and architecturally significant buildings in Wichita Falls. There was a tour guide taking us through the house. I learned that Frank Kell moved here in 1896. He and his brother-in-law were part of a grain industry, development of Lake Wichita, utilities companies, and MANY more. Later on, he purchased land and built a home for his family. After they passed away, Wichita County Heritage Society bought the Kell House and restored it. It was basically a walk through a house, but it was decorated with many things. Portraits lined the walls, paintings were hung up, pots and vases with intricate designs, and even a grand piano! Nearing the end of the tour in the historic house, I thought about tomorrow. I would be going to Graham.
Kell House Museum - Wichita Falls

Day 4 - Graham

Old Post Office Museum and Art Center

I enter what used to be a post office. It seems that the museum is held in the area that housed the mailboxes of Graham for 56 years! But I wonder why they chose that place to keep the museum. Anyways, this museum displays cultural items and history. There is mostly things on the Young County history - like the ranching history and dream of the Graham brothers' creation of the city. Permanent exhibits include photographs of oil fields in 1800s and 1900s. Collections of military uniforms all the way from American Indian War to modern military. So much has changed even in the military! Art work and pictures depict the culture and history of the beginning. Some exhibits are loans and temporary though. I learned a lot about the Young County like the oil boom and field equipment. There was also a few things on Pioneer history, and Yellott collection of Native American Pottery showing their culture. The art pieces included beautiful paintings of horses and flowers, as well as vases and quilts with intricate designs. I learned a lot and I had a good time, great way to start the day!

Possum Kingdom

I was getting bored of the same trails through forests. In Possum Kingdom the lake, known as the Great Lake of Texas, has many activities to do. I chose canoeing and fishing. Canoe was first and I got in, ready to paddle. We were going to canoe down the most scenic part of the Brazos River. Trees and rocky cliffs surrounded us. I learned that the cliffs were named by the Spanish "Brazos de Dios". That means Arms of God because of all the tributaries. It was a very scenic trip down the river. Limestone boulders and craggy cliffs were everywhere, and they had a variety of trees on them. Cottonwoods, oaks, mesquites, cedars, willows, pecans, and grapevines are lined next to the crystal clear stream. It was a great experience. After that, I went to go fishing. There is nearly 18,000 acres of water to fish! So many colorful fishes swam in the water. There were 10 popular species including - 5 types of bass (largemouth, striped, white, etc.), flathead catfish and more. I caught 2 bream and 1, more rare, blue. It was fun canoeing and fishing for a change, but I needed to get back so I could get rest for Amarillo tomorrow!
Possum Kingdom Lake

Day 5 - Amarillo

Cowgirls Cowboys in the West

In Amarillo I would be experiencing the way of life of real Texas. There is a tour called "Step into the Real Texas", which I go on. First, we visit Texas' oldest saddle makers. There were 4 generations of saddle makers! They crafted the most unique saddles. Then we got to go horse riding with cowgirls and cowboys. We saw some nice scenery on the ride. It was wonderful. But on the ride I realized how windy it was! There was wind pretty much every second, and it was blowing everything. After the ride we enjoyed cowboy entertainment and a meal from the Chuck Wagon. Then we went to the Big Texan State Ranch. I visited the sites and sets of old television shows and movies! That was one of the best parts for me. There was also the Big Texan Brewery. Unfortunately that was the last of the tour. I had an awesome time exploring the culture of the west and going horseback riding. Even though it was really windy, the overall tour was great.
Big image

Amarillo Botanical Gardens

Flowers surrounded me everywhere in the garden. So many different colors and types of flowers. They told us how the gardens came to be and I learned a lot. A group of hardworking women came together to create Amarillo's first garden club in 1929. They were trying to prove that it was possible to garden in the high plains of Texas. The soil and environment tested their knowledge of plants that could live through droughts, windy conditions, and long periods of time in sun. By 1949, 125 members were part of the garden club. They made the Garden Center and included space for test gardens. From 1992-2007 the Garden Center was turned into the Amarillo Botanical Gardens. I wouldn't have thought that the beautiful garden started from a club! I went around and looked at all the beautiful plants once again before heading on to my last stop, the Harrington House.

Harrington House

The Harrington House is huge! There are 4 levels, 20 rooms, 8 bathrooms, 7 fireplaces, and over 15000 of floor space! That is like crazy! On the tour of the house I found out quite a bit about the house. Kansas Cattlemen came and purchased land in the early 1900s. They purchased 4 lots to build a home on(!) The architecture, interior designing, and furnishing was done by a Kansas Firm. The house was finished and occupied in 1914. After they passed away, Don and Sybil Harrington purchased the house. They redecorated it and, since they traveled a lot, they collected and brought back many pieces of art. In 1997 they opened it (with the furnishing and art) for tours. There were collections of art and also mannequins with clothing on it! It was a tiring day today and I went back to get rest. I couldn't wait to get to Canyon!
Big image

Day 6 - Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

This state park has so many things to do. There are trails, shows, and more. I learned that it is the second largest canyon in North America! I explored the canyon by foot, and it was simply breathtaking. Rock formations everywhere and they were a beautiful reddish color. The plants were mostly shrubs and trees all the same green. But the mountains of rock were layered in different colors of reds and browns. The canyon is 800 ft deep! That is huge! I learned that there are some rock formations where a bigger rock is balanced on a smaller base. Those are called hoodoos. A lot of wildlife also resides here. The Texas Horned Lizard and Palo Duro Mouse are endangered species. There are also wild turkeys, coyotes, and many species of snakes and lizards. The habitats also provide good bird watching. I saw many woodpeckers. As I went deeper and towards the canyon floor, I saw more types of plants. It seems the floor can support more plant life because it's in the rivers flood plain. Common trees are juniper, mesquite, and willow. It was a tiring hike and enjoyable. When I reached the top again, I went to watch the TEXAS outdoor musical.
Big image

texas outdoor musical

The show is held in the State Park, which is very convenient. The show is about the life of early settlers. It is history, as well as culture through music. The show began with a lone horseman on a 600 ft high cliff, waving the Texas flag. Music played, fireworks exploded in the sky, and the show started. Over 60 singers and actors danced on stage. Everything was so lively! The music was great and the cast was very talented. I learned about the pioneers and the struggles they had in their time. The drama shows the determination of the early settlers. In the evening, the stars and walls of the canyon as the background, the stage looked even more amazing. I even thought I saw a shooting star! This was a wonderful evening and now I was even more excited to visit Alpine tomorrow!
An Evening at TEXAS

Day 7 - Alpine

Mariscal Mine

Alpine is so dry, it looks like a drought in some places. Luckily in the morning it was a little cool. But I got my hopes high, because it didn't stay cold very long. I went to the Big Bend National Park where there are many activities to do. I first went to the Mariscal Mine. Mariscal Mine is a preserved mercury mining site. I learned that mercury, or quicksilver, is the only metal that can be found in it's liquid form at ordinary temperatures. It was high in value for it was used as an electricity conductor, process precious metals, and medical preparation for centuries. A farmer Martin Solis found this mercury near his farm in 1900. By 1920, 20-40 people were working in the mine. The miners were Mexicans who escaped from the revolution. There wasn't a tour guide, but there were a few signs which told all of that. But the mine itself was cool. It is preserved very well, and gives us a peek into the past.
Big image

River Tour

After Mariscal Mine, I went on the river tour also in the park. The boats go through Rio Grande. I am able to see the canyons and mountains not only of Texas, but of Mexico too. Along the way I saw many fishers and farmers going about their daily life. Turtles often sun themselves, and I saw many resting on logs or rocks. I heard beavers in the bushes and the wings of a bird. Great blue herons and green kingfishers were soaring through the sky. The river itself was cold, but I didn't get too wet. I learned that the canyons are 1500 ft deep! Overall the tour fun and a little adventurous.

Big Bend Museum

Museum of the Big Bend is located in the national park as well. There are many collections showing culture of different places. There is a set of arrowheads called Livermore points. Susan Janes in 1906 made a trip to these arrowheads. Till now the heads are intriguing archaeologists because the same arrowheads were found in Tall Rock Shelter. Retablos, paintings on tin, are also displayed in the museum. They were produced from 1850s -1900s in Mexico. In the museum the collections include Retablos with numerous saints painted on them. Other parts of the museum contained exhibits explaining how culture spread. Native Americans lived her for thousands of years before the Europeans came. Spanish, through their system of missions, then left their culture in the region which is now mexico. Then the expansion of the westward border brought another culture to the Big Bend! I grasped quite a bit about the cultures and how they changed throughout the years. Tomorrow is the last day of my road trip, and I will make the best of it by having a good night's sleep.
Museum of the Big Bend | Exhibit Hall Walkthrough

Day 8 - Marfa

The Chinati Foundation

The museum is an art museum. Modern art is displayed and very unique pieces too. In fact the whole museum is unique! The art isn't paintings or something on paper. They are things made out of concrete or metal, things that are 3D. There was one room with 36 graphite drawings on the wall. At first I thought they were fooling us - there were just gray rectangles on the wall, with the rest of the room empty! But when I walked up closer I saw that it was actually papers with lines and cross-hatching designs all over it. In another room, there were basically balls of colored steel! Sculptures made out of painted chromium-plated steel were exhibited all around a huge room. Most were just round with a bunch of different color steel put together. There wasn't a particular shape or object made, it it was interesting how it was put together. The last thing I saw was in a corridor. 2 parallel tilted corridors held bright fluorescent light fixtures at the end. The fixtures were 8 ft tall, and the only source of light in the hallway. The lights cast shadows on the walls and the light itself were blazing with color. The art was rare and I had never seen anything like it. Simple things, like lights, if presented in a certain way looked cool and counted as art! Now I was off to Presidio County Courthouse.

Presidio County Courthouse

Presidio County Courthouse was built in 1886. It is historical, but known for it's different architectural design. It can be seen from any location in Marfa. There is an observatory on the top giving you a 360 degree view. It let me see the city and beyond, and it was free. The building is designed with brick and stone. The exterior is pink stucco. There is also a sculpture of Lady Justice on top of the dome(observatory), and many Roman arches. Interior is of dark pecan wood, and the entrances on all sides meet in a rotunda. Everything has a tint of old times, and some old fashioned furniture. It was restored very well and I had a good time.
Big image