Before I get started on this post, I apologize to my followers at How Big Is Texas. I started a new job at Visit Tyler at the beginning of the year. I’ve been trying to settle into the paying gig so I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging.
At the same time, my Facebook and Instagram accounts for How Big is Texas were hijacked so I had to start over on Facebook and lost my 5,000+ followers. If you were one of those and wondered where I went, I hope this explains it and you’ll take the time to follow me on my new page at this link.
Thanks for your patience and here’s to the start of an exciting new adventure from the Rose Capital of Texas.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I was living and working in San Angelo in west Texas and had been since I started How Big Is Texas in 2020. That changed at the end of 2022, when I packed up the Official World Headquarters (my she shed), enjoyed a going-away party where I was gifted a beautiful Roger Allen custom-designed plate from the Chicken Farm Art Center, and finished my time in west Texas with a spectacular sunrise.
I’m now living in the Texas Forest Trail Region among the Piney Woods with my Aunt until our house closes. Then my husband and I, along with our four-legged family, hope to find another home in east Texas to enjoy while I work in Tyler.
The New How Big Is Texas
As I’ve settled into my new neck of the woods, literally, the piney woods of east Texas, I’ve given some though to my branding of HBIT. I’ve been calling my space the World Headquarters, but after touring around the area, I’ve decided to step it up a notch, in the words of Emeril Legasse, and rebrand as the International World Headquarters. After all, Tyler is surrounded by a plethora of international-sounding communities.
International Road Trip
So I could get to know the area better, or at least re-familiarize myself with it, I hopped in the car and took a two-day weekend to see the various communities that, in name, offer an international flair. I grabbed my camera and jumped in the SUV for day one of my road trip, consisting of stops in New London, Naples, Bogata, Paris, Klondike, Athens, and Trinidad. I finished up on day two with Palestine, Geneva, and Carthage. Who knew Texas was so cosmopolitan?
International Texas Tour – Day One
London, England/New London, Texas
For the past few years, London, England, has been all over the news and entertainment columns starting with the death of Prince Philip, scandal of Prince Andrew, Harry and Meghan moving to America, the feud between Prince William and Harry, and the death of Queen Elizabeth. That’s a lot of drama in a few short years.
The town of New London, Texas, seems to be much more peaceful without the royal drama of our friends across the pond. That said, the community has had their spotlight in the international press and it has continued every year since that fateful day, March 18, 1937. On that day, an explosion occurred from a natural gas leak in the basement of the school, killing approximately 294 students and teachers. At that time, natural gas had no scent so when a teacher turned on a sanding machine, he had no idea the area was filled with gas.
Across the street from the current school is the New London Museum and Cafe, which tells the story of the explosion. Included in the museum is a telegram from German Reichs Chancellor Adolph Hitler, expressing his grief for the loss of the children.
Between the museum and the school stands a Cenotaph that memorializes those who were lost on that terrible day. Not long after the tragedy, scent was added to natural gas, saving lives around the world.
Naples, Italy/Naples, Texas
The third largest city in Italy is Naples, with more than 900,000 residents. Known to be the birthplace of pizza and located along the Amalfi Coast, this Italian tourist community certainly offers plenty of excitement to visitors.
The Texas counterpart of Naples, Texas, is a bit smaller with just under 1,400 good citizens. While not the home to pizza, they do host a Naples Rodeo and Watermelon Festival in the summer. They have a quaint downtown street, but be careful, it’s a one way. Along that street is a cute flower shop called Texas Blooms. Catchy name, don’t you think?
Bogota, Columbia/Bogata, Texas
The city of Bogota, Columbia, can be found along the Coffee Triangle. Known for producing some of the best coffee beans, Columbia’s Arabica and Robusta beans are enjoyed worldwide. The capital of Columbia covers 374 square miles and is home to more than 11 million people.
Named for their Columbian counterpart for reasons unbeknownst to me, in spite of a Google search for the answer, Bogata, Texas, is spelled differently. Word is it’s because the postmaster couldn’t read the application.
You could probably grab a cuppa Joe at Bogata Donuts. They might not be Arabica but who doesn’t like coffee and a donut? While you’re in town, pick up a little something special at the Honey Hush Boutique.
When you enter the community, you’ll see a number of rusted out vehicles, including a Ghostbusters wagon. From what I could see, those vehicles will eventually be repaired by the guys at Kravened Kustoms. Right now, it’s an interesting outdoor vehicle museum with no admission that you can enjoy from the comfort of your automobile while enjoying your donut shop coffee.
Paris, France/Paris, Texas
Ah, Paris, France. The city of love. Strolling by the Seine. Enjoying incredible art at the Louvre. Taking in the view from the observation deck of the breathtaking Eiffel Tower. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
While Paris, Texas, may not have many of the historic features of its French counterpart, it does have the second largest Eiffel Tower in the world. The added bonus of this Texas treasure is the giant red cowboy hat sitting at the top. What more could a girl ask for? While maybe not as sophisticated as the French one, the Texas version offers the visitor a great bang for your buck, shade under the hat on a hot, summer day, and a cheerful “Bonjour, y’all” greeting to guests when they’re visiting. You can also explore the shops, restaurants, and farmer’s market in downtown Paris.
And if you still want to see some interesting history, head to Evergreen Cemetery and pay your respects to the late Willet Babcock, a former casket maker. You can’t miss his gravestone. It’s the one with a 15-foot tall Jesus wearing cowboy boots. Gotta love Texas.
Klondike, Yukon, Canada/Klondike, Texas
While I have been to Canada, I’ve never been to Klondike, Yukon. I have the sneaking suspicion if I ever went, I’d want to pan for gold while no one was looking, like many prospectors would have done before me.
Instead, I think I’ll stick to Klondike, Texas. This unincorporated community in Delta County of under 1,000 residents offered interesting reading from the Nik Nak Book Shack and the geese seemed to love the place. The entire time I was driving through it, I kept asking myself what I would do for a Klondike bar.
Athens Greece/Athens, Texas
Athens, Texas, on the other hand, is the birthplace of the hamburger, or that’s the story according to the locals. If you read my blog about the hamburger trail I created a couple of years ago, you learned that other cities in the U.S. say they own the burger. We’re going to go with our lone star state brothers and sisters on this claim to fame. I’d suggest you talk it over with the locals at the Come & Take It Beer, Wine, and Market. I’m sure the tales will be tall and the beer cold.
You might not be able to run with an Olympic torch in hand like they do in Greece, but you can participate in Athens annual Fishing Fools Day Family Fun Run. It’s practically the same without all the pomp and circumstance and the pressure to win the gold.
Trinidad & Tobago/Trinidad, Texas
Surrounded by the waters of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Paria, and the North Atlantic Ocean, Trinidad and its neighbor of Tobago were part of the British Crown Colony until they became a republic in 1976. Known for being the home to many festivals, including Carnival, Trinidad is the fifth largest island in the West Indies. And a note to those fishing fans, it’s apparently one of the best places in the world to catch Atlantic tarpon.
Trinidad, Texas, is located near the Trinity River and Cedar Creek Reservoir and it’s down the road from Gun Barrel City. With a population of nearly 1,000, Trinidad is home to Westt Barber Shop, offering 50 cent haircuts…tomorrow. What a deal!
As for the fishing, you might not find any Atlantic tarpon, but you can catch any number of bass, carp, gar, catfish, and drum. You might even spot an alligator or two in Cedar Creek Lake.
We’ll see your Atlantic tarpon, Trinidad, and raise you a largemouth bass.
International Texas Tour – Day Two
The State of Palestine/Palestine, Texas
On the other hand, Palestine, Texas, is home to the Texas State Railroad, where during the Christmas season, you can board the Polar Express in your p.j’s and ride the train through the piney woods of east Texas.
If you’re all about nature, drive the winding road of Davey Dogwood Park and enjoy this wonderful natural beauty in the heart of the town.
Sweet tooth calling you? Stop by the Oxbow Bakery and enjoy a slice of pie. It’s so good that Texas Highways Magazine named it one of the top five places to get pie in the state. With spring just around the corner, the dogwoods should be blooming soon and there’s no better time to explore and enjoy a delicious dessert at the same time.
Geneva, Switzerland/Geneva, Texas
Headquarters of the United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, is surrounded by the Alps. When I personally think of Switzerland, I think of Julie Andrews spinning around and singing about the hills. I also think of chocolate.
Having only visited Geneva, Texas, once while I was on this trip, I didn’t think of chocolate, the alps, or Julie Andrews. I did find a quaint town along the original route of El Camino Real. According to multiple historic websites, this area of northern Sabine County has been continuously occupied longer than any area of East Texas. While there may not be a lot to see in this little burg, I couldn’t help but wonder while driving through if it wouldn’t be a better location for the United Nation’s World Headquarters, since it certainly gives you a sense of peace that our world could use.
Ancient Carthage/Carthage, Texas
Ancient Carthage is now Tunisia, according to history sites I perused to learn more about it. What I gleaned from things is the Carthaginians were a scrappy people and enjoyed a good war, as they played a part in multiple battles.
In the east Texas town of Carthage, it would appear the good people of this community embrace music, love, and not war, starting with their musical history and attractions like the “Gentleman” Jim Reeves Statue and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and Texas Ritter Museum.
One of my favorite places we visited when I drove the perimeter of Texas in June of 2020 with Debra and Morgan was the FootPrints in the Sand Monument at Pippen Memorial Park. There’s a sense of peace this park offers the visitor when they explore it.
No doubt, the Ancient Carthaginians could have learned a great deal about peace from the Texas Carthaginians.
For those historians out there, of which I AM NOT, forgive my nonchalant description of the cities around the world I’ve referred to in this post. I’m quite certain if you were writing a synopsis of these places, yours would be much more descriptive and historically on point.
I know I didn’t get to all of the international cities and towns in Texas, including Dublin, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Iraan, Rhome, Moscow, Italy, Newcastle, Ireland, Turkey, New Berlin, Odessa, and China, but maybe another trip…or two.
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy our new location for How Big Is Texas and the international flavor surrounding us in Tyler. I’m looking forward to learning more about this community we now call home, even though I was here for two years when I attended Tyler Junior College and I’ve visited the city regularly. Much has changed and there are many Texas adventures to come.
Until then…safe travels…from Texas!