As we wrap up 2021 and prepare for the new, and what we hope will be, improved year, I decided to reflect on the best parts of this year for How Big is Texas. I’ve created a Top 10 list of my favorite happenings. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
10. Being Featured in San Angelo Lifestyles and Abilene Living Magazines
In the fall of 2021, I was doubly honored to have my How Big Is Texas story featured in both San Angelo Lifestyles Magazine and Abilene Living Magazine. These wonderful publications focus on the stories of people in the region. I was incredibly blessed to be asked to share my travels around Texas with my neighbors. Here’s a link to the issue and the story on page 28.
9. Visiting West Columbia – The First Capitol of Texas
I listen to a fantastic podcast called Wise about Texas. Justice Ken Wise talks about the rich history of this great state and shared a story about West Columbia being the first capitol of the Republic of Texas. When I was researching the Texas Independence Trail Region for my four-day road trip, I learned even more about this historic community and had to add it to my list of places to stop. Not only do they have a replica of the first capitol of the Republic of Texas, they also have what was once a Carry Nation Hotel, a Rosenwald School, and a plaque indicating the exact location of Stephen F. Austin’s death. Since Austin was the Father of Texas, I certainly didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to visit the spot and pay my respects.
8. Going on an RV Getaway to Port Aransas
My most recent road trip took me away with my husband Dan and our two rescue dogs, Sadie and Angel. We have an RV and in 2016, we took a year off to travel and visit a good part of the southwest as Eccentric Nomads. We’ve been on many road trips together as a family, so ending the year with one on the beach was a great way to complete my Texas travels for 2021 and have quality time with my family.
7. Taking a Mini-Reunion with Friends on Bolivar Peninsula
Gathering with friends, especially after a pandemic that only allowed us to be together by Zoom and social media, highlighted my top 10 list. Darla, Jami, Mark, and I graduated from Livingston High School in Livingston, Texas, in 1982. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of our senior year by meeting up at Crystal Beach along the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston. Next year, we hope to catch up in person again and celebrate our 40th class reunion around the anniversary of our graduation. We enjoyed laughter and memories for a few days. Until we meet again, my friends.
6. Traveling to the Most Mispronounced Texas Towns and Cities with a Dear Friend
Without a doubt one of the most enjoyable outings I’ve taken was part one of the Most Mispronounced Texas Towns and Cities road trip. It was made even better with my friend Darla joining me. I mentioned her in the above post when we met with other friends on the Gulf coast. We were also roommates in college for a year at Tyler Junior College, so spending a few days catching up while learning how to pronounce some strange Texas names was a gift. When I first decided to take this trip, I had no idea my Facebook followers would provide me with at least 50 more names to add to the list. Darla and I may be hitting the road again in 2022 to find out more pronunciations of mispronounced Texas cities and towns.
5. Surviving the Texas-Sized Freeze in February
On New Year’s Day of 2021 in San Angelo, we had ice and snow, but it was nothing like the snowmageddon that struck the entire state of Texas in February of this year. While the snow was beautiful to look at, the power going out across the state did not make for a fun experience. We weathered through it, pun intended, and learned many life lessons along the way. Neighbors helped neighbors. Texas may have been snowed under for a while, but the hearts of our Lone Star State family held together and rose above it.
4. Enjoying our New Year’s Eve Ball Drop on National Media
Even though this blog is about 2021, the ball drop we decided to have at our home, just the two of us, began on the evening of December 31, 2020. I jokingly told my boss at work that it would be epic! Little did I know when I posted the 10-second video on Twitter that I would receive a message from an NBC news correspondent asking if they could share the video. Friends contacted me around the state who saw it on New Year’s Day. Stay tuned. There’s no telling what we’ll do to close out this year.
3. Exploring Washington-on-the-Brazos
A few years ago, I shared a Happy Texas Independence Day post on Facebook. One of my friends in the travel and tourism industry who works with the Texas State Parks organization noticed immediately my lack of any photos from Washington-on-the-Brazos, the location where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. It was an epic fail on my part so I was determined to finally visit this historic place. This year I finally made it! For a Native Texan to have waited more than 55 years to visit the site could have been reason enough to have my birth certificate taken away from me. I was so happy to have my feet touch the ground of our forefathers during my Texas Independence Trail Region tour. That bucket list item is now complete.
2. Creating the Official World Headquarters of How Big is Texas
The original purpose of our outbuilding that my husband built in 2018 was to store the lawn equipment. He had the idea of putting a porch on it to give it a more rustic feel. Little did we know that three years later, we’d be purchasing a large shop for him, he’d build a smaller outbuilding (our outhouse storage shed), and I would transform the existing space as the Official World Headquarters of How Big is Texas in San Angelo. Some refer to it as my she-shed and they wouldn’t be wrong about that either. I have purchased very little for the headquarters, as I had a LOT of Texas-themed items I’ve collected over the years. Many of my friends, family, and colleagues around the state have also provided me with additional items to decorate the inside and outside of the space. Future plans are underway for a podcast and other activities at the headquarters in 2022 and beyond.
1. Questing across the Great State of Texas
What can I say? Without this wonderful state I live in, a How Big is Texas blog wouldn’t exist, nor would I be sharing my travel on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. There are so many places to see over the 268,597 square miles of this beautiful place I call home. And there’s so much more to see. Here’s to the continued quest to answer the question How Big is Texas.
At the beginning of 2021, I wrote a blog about goals I wanted to achieve this year. Sadly, several of the items on the blog did not come to fruition. The pandemic impacted several trips I wanted to take. I was only able to visit one additional Texas Heritage Trail Region, the Texas Independence Trail. I’ve visited the Texas Forts Trail, the Texas Lakes Trail, and the Texas Mountain Trail. I’m hoping 2022 will allow me the opportunity to visit the remaining six.
An additional goal was to sample great southern dishes found in Texas. A few weeks after I wrote the blog about my 2021 goals, my husband and I caught Covid. He didn’t experience long-term challenges, but I lost my sense of taste and smell. I have a handful of foods I can kind of taste and smell almost a year later, so until it comes back fully, I will live vicariously through the questers who join me on my trips to sample Texas cuisine.
My final goal of photographing the great state of Texas did happen and will continue into 2022 and beyond, or that’s my hope for next year.
Until then, I wish you many opportunities of your own to explore the Lone Star State. Safe travels!