Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Historic Places & Landmarks, Kid-Friendly Trips, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Roads & Routes, State & National Parks
Happiness is a Texas Bucket List
From West Texas to the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast, El Paso to Texarkana to Brownsville, from outdoor enthusiasts to foodies to culture buffs, there’s always something to see and do in Texas.
Our Texas RV Travel Bucket List continues.
Monahans Sandhills State Park
Monahans Sandhills State Park consists of 3,840 acres of wind-sculpted sand dunes, some up to 70 feet high, in Ward and Winkler Counties, about a half-hour’s drive west of Odessa.
These sand hills once presented an enormous problem for pioneers and their wagon trains as they moved through the state. The Native Americans of the area, however, frequently camped in the area after discovering that pure, fresh water could be obtained by digging a trench between dunes.
This water has also been the source of nourishment for one of the largest oak forests in the country. However, the Harvard Oaks that cover more than 40,000 acres here seldom rise above 3 feet in height, even though their root structure may extend down 90 feet or more. The park offers an interpretive center and museum, as well as picnicking and RV camping and a favorite activity of many visitors, sand surfing.
Painted Churches of Fayette County
Driving the back roads of southeast Fayette County, it’s easy to leave the 20th century behind. Head out into the rolling hills to view the beautifully painted historic churches of Ammannsville (St. John the Baptist Church, 1919); Dubina (Saints Cyril and Methodius Church, 1912); High Hill (St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1906); and Praha (St. Mary’s Church, 1892). You’ll start your tour in historic downtown Schulenburg.
These churches have some of the most beautiful painted artwork and stained glass you will ever see. The term “Painted” comes from the elaborate faux-finished interiors. Gold-leafed, stone, and polished marble columns and ceilings are—upon closer examination—actually finely-fitted woodwork. The paint is still vibrant and bright, even after all these years.
In 1856, Dubina, (the Czech word for “land of oaks”) became the first Czech settlement in Texas. Soon more Czechs, Moravians, and Germans joined the settlers, traveling by ox cart and wagon, and established the villages of Ammannsville and High Hill nearby. In a few short years, Bohemian immigrant Mathias Novak helped transform the neighboring settlement of Hottentot into Praha, the Czech word for Prague, the capital of their homeland.
These newcomers were devout Catholics, as religious as they were hardworking. Small frame churches sprang up alongside cotton gins, sawmills, blacksmith shops, and saloons. As soon as they could afford it, the settlers built more-permanent houses of worship. Nostalgic for home, they fashioned pointed arches and vaulted ceilings, imported stained glass and ornate statuary from Europe, and commissioned elaborate, religious murals for walls, alters, and ceilings.
One of the great joys of RVing is visiting new places and making interesting discoveries. Another is just the opposite—revisiting those places that demand a closer look. Sometimes that second chance leads to a third—and a fourth.
City Market in Luling, is such a place. The meat-market-turned-barbecue-restaurant started in 1958, and over the years has become a barbecue icon. This is the arguably the best barbeque in all of Texas which helps explain why Luling is perennially included on our Texas itinerary.
Long before there was a giant watermelon to point the way, barbecue fans were heading to downtown Luling to satisfy their craving for City Market’s succulent brisket, hot links, and pork ribs. The meat-market-turned-barbecue-restaurant started in 1958, and over the years has become a barbecue icon.
Customers form two lines at this gastronomic heaven—one to select their meat and pick up pickles and white bread or crackers in the back room, and the other for drinks (this is Dr. Pepper country) and sides—be sure you try the beans. The meat is sold by the pound—except for sausage; it’s by the link—and then wrapped in butcher paper, which serves as a plate. You’ll find the spicy, mustard-laced sauce in bottles on the long, wooden tables.
This is the arguably the best barbeque in all of Texas which helps explain why Luling is perennially included on our Texas itinerary.
Texas Spoken Friendly
Please Note: This is part 7 of an on-going series on our Texas Bucket List
There is a growing feeling that perhaps Texas is really another country, a place where the skies, the disasters, the diamonds, the politicians, the women, the fortunes, the football players and the murders are all bigger than anywhere else.
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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.