Just like many of you who are preparing to travel North for the summer, I have been studying the map and wondering why in the world when we get behind the wheel of a car most of us are just hell bent for leather to reach our destination. Why in the world do we not stop to explore along the way? We may never travel that way again. So, let' s take time to smell the roses and add to our knowledge of all the wonderful destinations and people we should meet along our way.
I will have to admit that for years as I traveled the highway to San Miguel de Allende and on to Mexico City, I would just whiz past the cut off to Real de Catorce, that Incredible City reached only through a mile long tunnel cut through the mountain. And then fate entered in and my car conveniently broke down in Matehuala, the closest town to Real de Catorce. While my car was in the shop, I took a guided tour to what soon became one of my favorite spots in Mexico. Frozen in time, this old mining town, Real de Catorce, is certainly one we should all visit.
No doubt every state has special places that they are proud of - some large, some small, but all with a story. Before you leave South Texas, take a look at the map. You have three ways to leave our area - Highway 83, Highway 77 or Highway 281 - and all three can lead you on some interesting side trips.
If you take Highway 83, there are many ranches along the way. A detour to downtown Laredo and the main square in front of the Cathedral deserves a stop. Once a school, the Las Posadas Hotel offers an interesting break - possibly even a lunch stop - and hopefully they will be serving their fantastic buffet. It isn’t on the low-end scale but then you won’t need to eat supper. Be sure to read the historical marker on the square that refers to a skirmish between the “huaraches and the botes” - the sandals and the boots or the haves and the have nots. You see that attitude of “I’m better than you” has been around a long, long time.
Other interesting stops along Highway 83 might be a visit to Langtry or Big Bend National Park or nearby Terlingua. Park rangers often have nighttime informational presentations in Big Bend. This is such an interesting area; you might want to consider an overnight here. They do have an RV park and a hotel actually in the basin. Or you could stay in Marfa and maybe see the Marfa lights.
Highway 77 goes straight up to Schulenburg, home of the Painted Churches. The Oakridge Restaurant in Schulenburg has a very good buffet. A little further along this route is La Grange that might be considered the Bar-B-Que Capital of Texas.
Now Highway 281 will lead you straight to San Antonio – Texas’ #1 destination. Everybody knows about San Antonio and the River Walk. However, a little further along is Kerrville and Fredericksburg, officially the Texas Hill Country. If you are leaving in early May, the wildflowers should be out in all their glory.
There are two places of interest that may be a little too much out of your way but are certainly worth a stop if you can take the time - Amarillo and Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States. Amarillo is true west Texas and a drive through the Canyon - although it in no way can compare to the Grand Canyon - is a refreshing side trip. Amarillo boasts several museums including a railroad museum. If by any chance you are not heading north until June, check out the schedule for the outdoor musical “Texas” presented at night against the Canyon walls. Please use a computer or your phone to check out all the places that have been mentioned. Times, hours, and entrance fees can change.
Wherever your road leads you as you leave the Rio Grande Valley, take care, and stay safe. We hope to see you next season.