Texas – Land of Cowboys and Oil Barons
Texas is big – only Alaska is larger in area. The “Lone Star State” also has the largest population after California. And they are quite proud of their state, which you notice as a tourist at every corner. Almost 200 years after its founding, the Republic of Texas (which existed for only nine years) still has an impact today. So let’s stick to the state slogan “Don’t mess with Texas” and see what the state, which was significantly influenced by German immigrants, has to offer.
We begin our journey in Fort Worth, one of six major cities we will visit. While downtown is rather uninteresting, we encounter the whole world of cowboys in the historic Stockyards District. Via Waco on the Brazos River and Salado we reach Austin, the capital of Texas. The state capitol, southern Congress Avenue with its funny stores and the largest bat colony in the USA should not be missed.
On the way west, we pass Johnson City with the ranch of former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, the hamlet of Luckenbach and Fredericksburg, which is so German that its welcome sign says “Willkommen”. An option for hiking is the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area before heading about 300 miles through nearly uninhabited country. Fort Stockton is used for supplies, then we turn south and reach Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande, which has so little water here, however, that you can simply walk to the other bank in flip flops – and thus cross the border into Mexico. Scenically, the park has a lot to offer; you should allow yourself two days in the wilderness.
Via Alpine (with great murals) we reach the little town of Marfa, offering two extraordinary attractions: on the one hand the Chinati Foundation with a fascinating outdoor area designed by artist Donald Judd, who presented his works of art in the middle of the desert; on the other hand, just behind Valentine, the bizarre showroom of Prada Marfa – a small concrete house at the roadside, in the middle of the desert, furnished with Prada shoes and bags. Milan, Miami, Marfa – you just have to love this little piece of art.
Further along the route, Guadalupe Mountains National Park (a great mountain scenery) and Carlsbad Caverns National Park (an impressive cave system) follow. In the meantime, we left Texas and reached New Mexico. We take a loop to Alamogordo and visit the White Sands National Monument, a desert and dune landscape as white as snow, which will even be upgraded to a national park a few years later.
After Las Cruces we return to Texas and reach El Paso in the last western tip of the state. There’s actually not much to see; however, the view from the fine people’s quarter down to the city and to the houses of the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez on the other bank of the Rio Grande is magnificent. Oh yeah, there are also three historic Spanish missions.
A look at the map shows us that we have to cross Fort Stockton and the wasteland of central Texas again. Kerrville and Boerne are nice little towns to take a break; the destination, however, is San Antonio, the oldest city in Texas. The Spanish-Mexican influence is unmistakable, especially in the five historic mission stations. The Alamo still stands as a symbol of the Texas fight for freedom. The beautifully designed river walk leads to all important attractions. New Braunfels is another city founded by Germans. Lots of murals refer to the German origin, and at the Gruene district both locals and tourists meet for a good meal and a lot of fun.
If you’re already in Texas, you should also go to the sea. Kingsville is home to the King Ranch; you can visit the largest ranch in Texas on a bus tour. In Corpus Christi we look at the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in our lives – we have never been this far south on the globe. We follow the coast, although mostly inland, pass Padre Island National Seashore and take a look around Varner-Hogg Plantation, an old sugar cane plantation from the 19th century.
Once more we spend the night at the seaside (in Galveston), then we leave the coast and drive via NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (a must for all friends of space travel) to Houston, the largest city in Texas. Historic downtown and modern city center are both worth seeing; those who like to see public art will also find what they are looking for.
We definitely can’t miss San Jacinto Battleground; it was here that the Texans won their independence against the Mexicans. Via Beaumont and the Big Thicket National Preserve, a swampy pine forest with snakes, alligators, carnivorous plants and lots of mosquitos, we reach Livingston. Next is Huntsville, home to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum for the first president of the independent Republic of Texas.
In Waxahachie, the red county courthouse tells a very special love story; this is our last stop before Dallas, the final destination of our tour. Once again, we experience a very interesting city; the assassination of John F. Kennedy is a major topic in town. Our round trip through Texas ends with an excursion to J.R. Ewing’s famous Southfork Ranch in nearby Parker.
|01||Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)||Fort Worth||025 m / 040 km|
|02||Fort Worth||Fort Worth||000 m / 000 km|
|03||Fort Worth||Austin||190 m / 305 km|
|04||Austin||Austin||000 m / 000 km|
|05||Austin||Fredericksburg||085 m / 135 km|
|06||Fredericksburg||Fort Stockton||300 m / 485 km|
|07||Fort Stockton||Terlingua||180 m / 290 km|
|08||Terlingua||Alpine||090 m / 145 km|
|09||Alpine||Whites City||200 m / 320 km|
|10||Whites City||Alamogordo||170 m / 275 km|
|11||Alamogordo||Las Cruces||080 m / 130 km|
|12||Las Cruces||Fort Stockton||300 m / 485 km|
|13||Fort Stockton||San Antonio||320 m / 515 km|
|14||San Antonio||San Antonio||000 m / 000 km|
|15||San Antonio||New Braunfels||045 m / 070 km|
|16||New Braunfels||Corpus Christi||230 m / 370 km|
|17||Corpus Christi||Victoria||145 m / 235 km|
|18||Victoria||Galveston||170 m / 275 km|
|19||Galveston||Houston||060 m / 095 km|
|20||Houston||Houston||000 m / 000 km|
|21||Houston||Livingston||180 m / 290 km|
|22||Livingston||Dallas||225 m / 360 km|
|23||Dallas||Dallas||000 m / 000 km|
|24||Dallas||Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)||065 m / 105 km|
|Total||3.060 m / 4.925 km|