El Tour de Tejas
The Aspen Times
A few weeks ago, I wrote a segment for the Aspen Times Weekly about an extensive and overly complicated road trip I wanted to take around my home state of Texas. I called it the “Tour de Texas” and thought there was no way I’d actually manage to cover the whole state in a single trip.
Well, I did take a truncated version of the trip over Thanksgiving week. Arriving in Dallas/Fort Worth a little woozy from the double dose of Dramamine I accidentally took, my mom took me straight to Whataburger, a Lone Star treasure. A couple Texas-sized Dr. Peppers and a No. 1 later, I was navigating my mom’s brand-new car south on Interstate 35. That poor vehicle would see about 1,000 miles before I was through with it.
The first stop was Pflugerville, a suburb of Austin where my best gal pal has settled in with her fiance and two pups. We never did make it downtown, but Pflugerville has a surprising number of cute stores and coffee shops, and finally getting to meet “the kids” and catch up on wedding planning — or the lack thereof — was truly better than anything.
On the next leg of the journey to Houston, I found myself in a torrential downpour, unable to see anything but the lines on the lanes and the taillights of the people in front of me. The drive took an extra hour and I almost missed my birthday dinner, but in spite of the rain we still managed to go out in midtown, the current bar scene that, according to one of my friends, will soon be replaced by downtown. City-kid problems.
The next morning I had lunch with my aunt and finally began the long trek to north Texas. I barely spent a couple days at home — broken up by a night out in Dallas — before we headed to Possum Kingdom Lake for Thanksgiving Day. Football, hiking and, of course, eating were the order of the day out there.
The big finale was spending my last weekend — yes, that means Friday and Saturday night — at my dad’s hunting property out in the middle of nowhere. The closest town, about 20 minutes away, is a wide spot in the road known as Tool, Texas, which surprisingly is home to about four restaurants and where I finally got to have some Texas barbecue. Tired as I was after camping in the woods and walking all over the beautiful 200 acres, as my dad said, it was “a good kind of tired.” Not a bad way to end a great trip.
“2023 predicted to be the Vintage of a Lifetime in Napa Valley,” proclaimed the headline this week in a press release sent out by the Napa Valley Vintners, the trade organization that represents the growers and producers in America’s most famed wine region. If there is anyone more optimistic than winemakers, it is the group that represents them.