In early April I’m off to Texas with the family, on a road trip that will take us from Houston to San Antonio to Austin and back again. Texas is a darn big place and although I’d love to head west to the Big Bend Park for a landscape of cactus and tumbleweed or north to Fort Worth for the cowboy culture or south to the borderlands with Mexico, I think there will be quite enough to entertain us for 10 days in the Houston, San Antonio and Austin neighbourhoods.
As excitement rises in the Cowper household you might ask ‘Why Texas?’ – of all the places in all the world this Easter hols, how come we’ve chosen the Lone Star State? If you are a parent of teenage children you’ll know how tough it is to please everyone and Texas seemed to tick all the boxes.
For Mum there’s the promise of warm spring days, with sunshine that might pass for a heatwave here in Bristol. Dad has been there before and loves all that outdoor stuff plus the folks are just so friendly! Big son aged 19 is up for the huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ and fancies some live music in Austin. Little son aged 14 has just been to Europe too many times and is ready to see the US of A and the Princess aged 17 fancies herself as a cowgirl and is up for a bit of adventure.
We’re flying in and out of Houston and will base ourself there for the first and last day of the holiday. Top of our list is to see the Space Center Houston on the edge of town that coined the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem” Apart from that I’m sure the kids will be only too ready to spend my hard earned dollars in the enormous Galleria shopping centre while I might seek out a spot of culture in the Museum District.
Next we head for San Antonio, one of the must sees for any Texas Tourist with the Alamo (small chapel with big significance in the history of Texas as an independent state) and the San Antonio missions. We want to soak up some of the Mexican flavour, eat Tex Mex (anyone for menudo?) and stroll along the River Walk for the vibrant nightlife.
Not so far out of San Antonio and we’re into the Texas Hill country where we hope to spend some time on a ranch and soak up the Cowboy culture. This part of Texas is known for the rolling hills, interesting small towns,wineries and ranches, especially near the town of Bandera, which has cleverly branded itself as the “Cowboy capital of the World” (I gather that Texans like to think big). We’re all new to horse-riding (or horse-back riding as the refer to it over there) so I’m hoping that the horses will be gentle and we won’t be too saddle-sore by the end.
Further north and we’ll be spending a few days in Austin over the Easter weekend, a city known for its quirky independent spirit (keep Austin weird), parks, lakes, springs and of course the live music scene. We’ll have just missed the South By South West festival but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of places to hang out and stay cool, bikes to ride and lakes to swim in.
In between we hope to stop in diners and eat mountains of barbecue, slices of pecan pie and enjoy every mouthful with a ‘tomorrow we diet’ spirit. My food inspiration has come from the Sterns on Roadfood.com where I read mouthwatering tales of beef brisket and kolache pastries. The website has some great Eating Tourspointing out the best places to eat including Heart of Texas Barbecue belt, Houston Heading West and (I’m drooling over this one)Texas, deep in the heart of Pie & BBQ.
By way of research and inspiration I’ve been listening to a few podcasts on the way to work and have enjoyed the following podcasts about Texas:
- Amateur Traveler – Travel to San Antonio – Texas
- Amateur Traveler – Travel to Texas
- Texas Walking tours for Austin, Houston, San Antonio as well as Dallas, Fort Worth and Corpus Christi
I hope you’ll follow my trip to Texas between 3-13 April when I’ll be sending pics on Instagram to Twitter & Facebook and posting a few postcard entries on the blog whenever I get a spare moment, and of course you’ll be seeing the posts, videos and podcasts in the coming weeks too – Texas, here we come!