Texan Adventures

Calling Texas a "big" state is putting it mildly. Living in Dallas for residency, it's been a good jumping point to see everything Texas has to offer. Let's check it out!

Trip #1: San Antonio + Austin

Day 0: Dallas

STOPS: Velvet Taco

I picked up my girlfriend from the airport. After showing her around my extra-fancy apartment, we went to Velvet Taco for a non-so-authentic but very delicious taco experience. It was the night of the lunar eclipse, so I forced her to stand out in the almost-freezing weather while I tried (in vain) to get a good shot of the reddish moon. Then we went to bed in anticipation of our road trip adventure!

Day 1: Dallas to San Antonio

STOPS: Dinosaur Valley State Park, Enchanted Rock State Park, Ocho, San Antonio Riverwalk, The Brooklynite

We woke up and made breakfast (for once), then slowly hit the road. First stop on the Texas adventure, Dinosaur Valley State Park! It's a pretty place in Glen Rose with lots of dinosaur tracks. The only catch is that the tracks are located underneath the river...so you can see them but they're covered with a lot of water. After taking some cheesy shots with the replica dinos, we ate some Tex-Mex at *** before continuing the adventure. We took a break in Llano at a park near the river. No sightings of Llano Llary, the Llano Llama. Our big stop for the day was Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. It is very difficult to capture the immensity of this rock. Its slowly curving slope makes it seem to go on forever, and hides its steepness. It's hella windy at the top, but the view is amazing. We survived the wind long enough to watch the sunset and for me to take way too many photos. Another hour of driving and we found ourselves at our AirBNB, which possibly may have been an abandoned house(?). We headed to the Riverwalk. Personally, I found it a little disappointing (sorry!) but I can see how it would be every hobo's dream home. We ate some dinner at Ocho (try the cubano!) and some drinks at The Brooklynite, then got some well-deserved rest.

Day's Mileage: ***

Total Mileage: *** (***/day)

Day 2: San Antonio to Austin

STOPS: 5 Points Local, The Alamo, Black's BBQ, BookPeople, Whisler's, Liberty, Grackle

We ate some great breakfast bowls at 5 Points Local. We then headed to see the famous Alamo, which honestly is a complete disappointment. This "Texan heritage" site is 100% surrounded by tourist traps, and it's practically shameful with regards to what happened there. Not a fan. We were going to check out Sam Houston Army Base to see the peacocks and deer, but we decided to just head to Austin instead. We did stop in Lockhart for the famous Black's BBQ, with some delicious burnt ends. We arrived in Austin, and of course headed straight to the mega-Whole Foods. It's near BookPeople, so we scoped that out too. We wandered around in the rain hopelessly looking for some fun bars, finally ending up at Whisler's, Liberty (and East Side King, and Grackle.

Day's Mileage: ***

Total Mileage: *** (***/day)

Day 3: Austin Adventures

STOPS: Veracruz Taco Truck, Texas Coffee Traders, Franklin BBQ, Texas Capitol, Moonlight Towers, South Congress Street, Alamo Drafthouse

Woke up to some cold but sunny weather. My girlfriend is the foodie, so we checked off as many of her stops as possible. We grabbed tacos from the Veracruz Taco Truck, then went to Franklin BBQ which didn't have much of a line (on a cold Wednesday morning). We decided to wander to Texas Coffee Traders, best decision ever! Highly recommend a visit, they know their stuff about coffee! Went back to Franklin in time to only wait in line for about an hour. They suckered us into buying a ton of BBQ, but the joke's on them because it was THE BEST BBQ I'VE EVER EATEN. I understand the hype now. We headed over to the UT campus and capitol building to look at some random sculptures (including a creepy Bill Nye twin on a well-endowed horse) plus the famous "Hi How Are You" mural and the Moonlight Towers. We then spent a couple hours wandering up and down South Congress street. Sad to say I didn't buy any cowboy boots. We watched the sunset near the South Congress bridge, but it was the wrong time of year for bat watching. We finished up the day by getting some Lick ice cream (try the goat cheese) and watching Aquaman at Alamo Drafthouse. It was alright...I guess.

Day's Mileage: ***

Total Mileage: *** (***/day)

Day 4: More Austin Adventures

STOPS: Cuvee coffee, Austin Nature and Science Center, Ramen Tatsu-Ya, The Buzz Mill, Mayfield Park, Mt Bonnell, Austin Taco Project

Today we went to get coffee at Cuvee coffee near our AirBNB. We drove around the parks south of the city, including a stop at Lou Neff Point. We checked out the small but quirky Austin Nature and Science Center, full of birds and other critters. We ate some ramen at Ramen Tatsu-Ya, then needing more coffee (never enough coffee), we went to The Buzz Mill. We then headed to Mayfield Park which has ACTUAL PEACOCKS. WHAAAAAAA. After getting our peacock fix, we headed to Mt Bonnell to watch the sun slowly set on the horizon. As it was our last night in Austin, we lived it up at some of the different bars on 6th street plus tacos at Austin Taco Project.

Day's Mileage: ***

Total Mileage: *** (***/day)

Day 5: Austin to Dallas

STOPS: Day 5: Flattrack coffee, Dr. Pepper Museum, The Woolworth

It was time to leave Austin, after eating tons of delicious food and coffee. Speaking of coffee, we picked up some Flattrack coffee and headed back to Texas Coffee Traders so I could get a coffee mug. Heading back to Dallas, we stopped at Buc-ee's for some Buc-ee Nug-ees and then went to Waco to check out the intriguing Dr. Pepper museum. We hung out in Dallas for a bit then went downtown to see Eliza Schlesinger perform. Highly recommend, she's freakin' hilarious. Hungry yet again, we went to The Woolworth, eating dinner while looking at the giant eyeball in the park.

Day's Mileage: ***

Total Mileage: *** (***/day)

Day 6: Dallas Adventures

STOPS: San Martin Bakery, Rainbow Vomit, Deep Ellum, We Are 1976, C Senor, Peticolas Brewery Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Uchi

I tried to stuff as many exciting Dallas activities into this day as humanly possible. We ate some wonderful Salvadorean cuisine at San Martin Bakery. I gave her a whirlwind tour of all the exciting downtown monuments and buildings (she was thrilled). We went to Rainbow Vomit in Deep Ellum and wandered for a bit, eating some Brazilian popsicles. We then went to Bishop Arts and did the same, getting tacos at C Senor and picking up an awesome poster at We Are 1976. We stopped by Peticolas Brewery for a beer, I took her to my secret sunset-watching spot, then we went to Uchi for one of the best dinners of my entire life.

Day's Mileage: ***

Total Mileage: *** (***/day)

Day 7: Saying Goodbye

STOPS:Tacos Mariachi, Houndstooth Coffee

Unfortunately my girlfriend couldn't stay forever and had to head back to Cleveland. We ate tacos at Tacos Mariachi and got some coffee at Houndstooth in Sylvan 30. We wandered around the city a little more before I took her to the airport. A sad end to the week, but I'll see her again soon!

Day's Mileage: ***

Total Mileage: *** (***/day)

Trip #2: Laredo, Brownsville, and South Padre Island

What's south Texas like? Turns out it's full of birds. Took a trip down to see what truly south Texas (aka the Rio Grande Valley) is like.

Day 1: Dallas to Laredo

STOPS: Bucee's, El Sombrero Azul

Finished work early and hit the road. Make the requisite Bucee's stop along the way and got stuck in way too much traffic. Lost I-35 between Waco and San Antonio (bypassed Austin) and picked it up again all the way to Laredo, watching a failed sunset. Made it around 8PM to see the border crossing, then picked up some excellent food at El Sombrero Azul before making it to my hotel.

Today's distance: 463

Total distance: 463 (463/day)

Day 2: Laredo to Brownsville

STOPS: Lake Casa Blanca State Park, Organic Man Coffee Trike, National Butterfly Center, Hidalgo Old Pumphouse Museum and WBC, World's Largest Killer Bee, Grind Coffee Co, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and WBC, Santa Ana NWR, Estero Llano State Park, Laguna Madre Nature Trail, Tacqueria El Taco Loco

Woke up and decided to go to Lake Casa Blanca for the sunrise...too bad it was gray with a thin orange line. Picked up some coffee from Organic Man, then hit the road. Drove along the southernmost road, with some sad views of the border wall. On the way to the butterfly center, took a detour (per GPS) and saw border patrol with 50ish women and children who just crossed the border. Didn't see any butterflies at the butterfly center, but plenty of birds and flowers. Made a rapid-fire journey through a bunch of designated birding areas, including Hidalgo Old Pumphouse, Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, and Santa Ana NWR (which has a cool canopy bridge and observation tower). The highlight was Estero Llano, which has a great viewing area to watch ducks and other waterbirds splash around, and an area where you might see a gator or two (I did!). Refueled with caffeine from Grind Coffee Co, then made the drive to South Padre Island to watch the sunset from the Laguna Madre Nature Trail. Just because (why not), I drove north to the very end of the road to attempt some astrophotography (not super successful) before heading back to Brownsville (much cheaper than SPI), picking up some tacos from Tacqueria El Taco Loco before finding a motel to stay at.

Today's distance: 330

Total distance: 793 (/day)

Day 3: Brownsville, etc

STOPS: Boca Chica Beach, Vera's BBQ, 7th and Park, Resaca de las Palmas SP and WBC, Soverign Coffee, Gladys Porter Zoo, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Ceviche Ceviche, Sea Turtles Inc, SPI WBC, Milos Coffee House, Laguna Madre Nature Trail

Tried to get up early and drive to Boca Chica Beach in time for sunrise, but turns out it's closed for SpaceX "stuff"...darn. Drove back to Brownsville to get some amazing BBQ from Vera's, then got coffee from 7th and Park before checking out Resaca de las Palmas, which had some great trails but the only birds I saw were talkative wild turkeys parading down the trail. Picked up MORE COFFEE from Soverign Coffee before checking out Gladys Porter Zoo, which is 100% worth visiting (so many cool animals!!!) I then took the long way to SPI, heading through Laguna Atascosa to check out a couple of the birding blinds. Picked up some food from Ceviche Ceviche (and my weekend dose of fruits/veggies) before paying a quick trip to Sea Turtles Inc to see their rescued turtle friends. I then spent the next couple hours wandering the boardwalk of the South Padre Island World Birding Center, which had so many birds, swimming mullets, captive gators, and one wild gator. Feeling a little tired, I got more coffee (yessiree) from Milos Coffee House before heading back to my same sunset spot for an even better sunset at the Laguna Madre Nature Trail. Having enough, I headed back to the motel for the night.

Today's distance: 199

Total distance: 992 (/day)

Day 4: Brownsville to Dallas

STOPS: Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, Harlingen Thicket, Bandera Coffee Co, Merit Coffee Co, Bluebonnets

Wasn't going to risk a third crappy sunrise, so I slept in as much as I could. Headed to Harlingen to see Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, where I saw a few birds and some surprise javelinas! Quickly wandered through Harlingen Thicket before getting coffee at Bandera Coffee Co. I drove all the way to San Antonio to get some Merit Coffee direct from its hometown. I then decided to take the back roads (not really back roads if the speed limit is 70mph?) and made numerous stops to see the bluebonnets and go wild with the camera. Finally made it back home around 7pm, phew!

Today's distance: 572

Total distance: 1564 (/day)

Trip #3: Galveston + Corpus Christi

I've really wanted to go to Corpus Christi since moving to Dallas to see the Texas State Aquarium and Padre Island National Seashore. Well now's my chance!

Day 1: Dallas to Freeport

STOPS: Carport, Brazos Bend State Park, Blood Bros BBQ, Smith Oaks Sanctuary, Galveston Beach, MOD Coffeehouse, Galveston Island State Park, Seahorse Grill

Decided not to leave on a Friday after work, instead getting up extra early on Saturday to head out. Timed the sunrise with driving through Waco, then got off the highway to take the back roads. Drove through College Station which was everything I expected (giant college campus) and picked up coffee at Carport. I then headed way out to Brazos Bend State Park to fulfill my goal of seeing a gator, which took about 30 seconds. I then headed towards Houston to see one of my cousins (yondoo!) where we got some Blood Bros BBQ for lunch. I then drove east past downtown Houston to Smith Oaks Sanctuary to see the nesting roseate spoonbills (l'il spoony bois), so cute yet weird looking. I drove along the coast past all the stilt houses to Galveston, which was nicer than everyone makes it seem despite the rainy weather I encountered. I picked up some backup coffee from MOD Coffeehouse, made a quick stop to Galveston Island State Park to watch a sad sunrise (too cloudy), then got some fish dinner from Seahorse Grill before making my way to a motel all the way in Freeport (everything else was booked and expensive)

Today's distance: 532

Total distance: 532 (532/day)

Day 2: Freeport to Corpus Christi

STOPS: Surfside Beach, LaFitte's Cove, Kelly Hamby Nature Trail, Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, Fishing Pier Park, Aransas NWR, South Texas Botanical Garden, Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve, Snoopy's Pier

I got up early enough to make it to Surfside Beach for an amazing sunrise, which was to be pretty much the only sun I'd see all day. I backtracked to LaFitte's Cove near Galveston where I watched the birders go birdwatching. Heading south, I made a quick stop along the shore to the Kelly Hamby Nature Trail, then continued on and around Freeport to the Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, which is the only time I can say I took too many hummingbird photos. From there, I continued onwards, stopping to walk to short boardwalk at Fishing Pier Park before making it to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. I was too late to see sandhill cranes, but I did see some gators and plenty of other birds. I tried to make it to the aquarium but it was too late, so I settled for the South Texas Botanical Garden where I got some awesome pictures of butterflies and roses. I then stopped by the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve before closing, where I'm pretty sure I saw a caracara along with a painted bunting (whatever that is). I then got some dinner and ice cream at Snoopy's Pier while getting a perfectly purple sunset before bed.

Today's distance: 341

Total distance: 873 (***/day)

Day 3: Corpus Christi to Dallas

STOPS: Hans + Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge, La Palma, Padre Island National Seashore, Mustang Island, Wetland Park, Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Joan + Scott Holt Paradise Pond, Texas State Aquarium,

For whatever reason I woke up ridiculously early and went to the Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge before sunrise where I didn't see any birds but saw an interesting cloudy sunrise over a bridge. I headed onwards to Padre Island National Seashore, first getting some gorditas from La Palma, which I ate at the beach near the visitor center. After enjoying some sand and surf, I headed back north, briefly stopping at Mustang Island before checking out the birds at Wetland Park, Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, and the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond. I then took the ferry from Port Aransas back to the mainland, heading to the Texas State Aquarium to enjoy my good friends the fishes. Finally, victory! Had enough for one weekend, I made the long trip back home.

Today's distance: 496

Total distance: 1369 (***/day)

Part 4: Beaumont (+ Louisiana)

All I was missing from the gulf coast of texas was a little bit of the north, so I figured out why not check out the bayou while I'm at it? See what the swamp folk are up to.

Day 1: Dallas to New Orleans

STOPS: Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant, Tamp + Grind, Grand Cote NWR, Mississippi River Park, City Roots, Mike the Tiger, Bayou Savage NWR, Today's Cajun Seafood, Crescent Park

Woke up and hit the road, made my way to the meat pies at Lasyone's and some coffee at Tamp + Grind in Alexandria. I made a stop at Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge but the trail I wanted to take was completely flooded, next time! I drove to Baton Rouge and took a walk around the waterfront, checking out Mississippi River Park, Mike the Tiger's enclosure (without Mike visible) at LSU, and more coffee from City Roots. I took the long way around New Orleans to Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge to walk the boardwalks in the sunny weather, then headed into the city to get a po'boy from Today's Cajun Seafood which I ate while walking around Crescent Park in a hot, humid, cloudy sunset evening. I then made my way to my family friends' house, where I stayed the night.

Today's distance: 586

Total distance: 586 (586/day)

Day 2: New Orleans Adventures

STOPS: Armstrong Park, Jackson Park, Ignatius J Reilly Statue, Cafe du Monde, Barataria Preserve, Liuzza's by the Track, City Park, National WWII Museum, Mandina's, Angelo Brocato

Today I got up and checked out Armstrong park and the rest of the downtown sights before getting rained out with a thunderstorm. I was able to see the Ignatius J Reilly statue, which was a little exciting after reading A Confederacy of Dunces last year. I also made a stop at Cafe du Monde for some chicory coffee and beignets. I headed briefly out of the city to Barataria Preserve, where I got up close with the swampy gators and loads of dragonflies. I then went back to Liuzza's by the Track for another po'boy, which I ate in City Park. I checked out the National WWII Museum with its loads of exhibits before meeting back up with my hosts to go to Mandina's for dinner and Angelo Brocato for some gelato.

Today's distance: 66

Total distance: 652 (***/day)

Day 3: New Orleans to New Iberia

STOPS: New Orleans Botanical Gardens, Bean Gallery, Parkway Bakery + Tavern, Grand Isle State Park, Mandalay NWR, Boudreau + Thibodeau's Cajun Cookin'

Today was thunderstorming on and off, so I passed on the zoo, but I was able to make it to the Botanical Gardens which were awesome (including the cute greenhouse with succulents). I stopped by the Bean Gallery for coffee refueling and Parkway Bakery and Tavern for my final po'boy before making the drive down to Grand Isle State Park, which was small but had a super cool drive over the swamp land and through thunderstorms. Backtracking, I stopped by Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge where I ruined my sneakers walking through the swampy trail, but was rewarded with an amazing view of a hidden pond in the sun. I then drove through Houma (home of DC Comics' Swamp Thing) for some Boudreau and Thibodeau's Cajun Cookin', then found a hotel to stay at in New Iberia.

Today's distance: 282

Total distance: 934 (***/day)

Day 4: New Iberia to Dallas

STOPS: Classic Cup, Rockefeller NWR, Cameron NWR, Stellar Beans, Steamboat Bill's, Veterans Memorial Park, Sabine NWR, Peveto Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary, Sea Rim State Park, Texas Ornithological Society Sabine Woods, Texas Point NWR, Beaumont Botanical Gardens, Catwalk Marsh Wetlands, Sweet Basil, Big Thicket National Preserve

Hit the road for some coffee at Classic Cup and a boudin biscuit (interesting), then continued onwards along the backroads for a cool swampy drive. Stopped by Rockefeller National Wildlife Refuge which is more for fishing than birding, but Cameron National Wildlife Refuge was a great stop. Gators sunning themselves everywhere, trying to lure me into the water with promises of waterlily photos, but I was not fooled. I headed north to Lake Charles, where it turns out President Biden was making a stop. Well I couldn't pass the opportunity up, so I waited at Veterans Memorial Park to see the motorcade with coffee from Stellar Beans and gumbo from Steamboat Bill's. Afterwards I headed south to Sabine National Wildlife Refuge for some more gators (and fly bites), then kept onwards to Peveto Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary which had neither birds nor butterflies but swarms (HORDES) of dragonflies. I passed back into Texas and through Port Arthur, making stops at Sea Rim State Park, Texas Ornithological Society Sabine Woods, and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge, where I saw just a couple birds (but I am very impatient). I went up to Beaumont where I accidentally found the Beaumont Botanical Gardens and the great birding spot Catwalk Marsh Wetlands. I picked up some food from Sweet Basil which I ate and watched the sunset on the road at Big Thicket National Preserve. Having run out of stops and only four hours from home, I figured "screw it," tanked up on caffeine and made the drive back to Dallas, arriving just short of midnight. And thus ends almost 4500 miles of gulf coast adventure!

Today's distance: 597

Total distance: 1531 (***/day)

Trip #5: Amarillo, Lubbock, and San Angelo

Day 1: Dallas to Amarillo

STOPS: Copper Breaks State Park, Holy Smokes BBQ

Got off work a little early today and decided to take an impromptu trip, quickly packed and hit the road. Passed through a thunderstorm and made it to Cedar Breaks State Park, where I did a short hike with unbelievable red sandstone and blue/green grasses, like someone maxed out the saturation levels. Feeling hungry I went to Holy Smokes BBQ for dinner in Quanah then completed the journey to Amarillo and checked into my hotel.

Today's distance: 388

Total distance: (/day)

Day 2: Amarillo to San Angelo

STOPS: Roasters Coffee, Helium Times Column Monument, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Panhandle Plains Historic Museum, Caprock Canyons State Park, Monomyth Coffee, Museum of Texas Tech, Gold Stripe Coffee, Vizo's African Restaurant, Big Spring State Park

Woke up around 6AM to shoot for Palo Duro opening at 7AM. I got coffee at Roasters and donuts across the street, then detoured to see the Helium Times Column Monument, both a monument to the importance of helium in the Amarillo economy and an enormous time capsule. I made it to Palo Duro Canyon (2nd largest canyon in US after Grand Canyon) just in time for sunrise. It was the perfect day for the lighthouse hike, which took about 3hr including stops for pictures. Highly recommend, the colors are amazing! I headed back to see some dinosaur fossils in Canyon at the Panhandle Plains Historic Museum. Heading down I-27, I detoured to see the official Texas bison herd (including baby bison) at Caprock Canyons State Park. I continued onwards to Lubbock, refueling coffee at Monomyth before making a quick stop for more fossils at the Museum of Texas Tech. I picked up more coffee fuel at Gold Stripe before getting some dinner at Vizo's African Restaurant. I headed onto my last leg, stopping in Big Spring to go to Big Spring State Park where I was rewarded with a double rainbow! Finally made it to San Angelo just after dark to check into my hotel.

Today's distance: 463

Total distance: (/day)

Day 3: San Angelo to Dallas

STOPS: Sunken Gardens, San Angelo State Park, International Waterlily Collection, Buttercup All Day Cafe

Today woke up to a terrifying thunderstorm that briefly knocked out the power in the hotel! The forecast said it would slowly improve, so I meandered around San Angelo. First stop to Sunken Gardens, to see some local sculptures and a cute garden. It was too wet for waterlily photography so the next stop was San Angelo State Park. No bison or longhorn, but I did find a few turkey and javelina! Backtracking, I picked up coffee from Buttercup before becoming enthralled at the unbelievable International Waterlily Collection. So many waterlilies, each more beautiful than the next. Unfortunately I couldn't stay forever, so I had to get back in the car and make the drive home.

Today's distance: 285

Total distance: (/day)

Trip #6: El Paso, Marfa, and I-20

Day 1: Dallas to El Paso

STOPS: Monks Coffee, Whataburger

Had a short day at work, so I started my trip around noon. Drove to El Paso (8+ hours!) almost nonstop, except for coffee from Monks Coffee and dinner from Whataburger - because what else is there to eat in Texas? The drive was pretty unexciting until about Van Horn, there's definitely a change in landscape that lets you know when you're in West Texas. Made it to my hotel just in time for bed.

Today's distance: 637

Total distance: (/day)

Day 2: El Paso to Alpine

STOPS: Scenic Drive, City Coffee Bar, Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso Botanical Gardens, Empanaderia, Chamizal National Memorial, Rio Bosque Park, Prada Marfa, The Sentinel, Davis Mountains State Park, Guzzi Up

My hotel was fortunately near the scenic drive, which had a pulloff and a great view of the sunrise. I tried to get into Franklin Mountains but it wasn't open yet, so I got coffee at City Coffee Bar and checked out the small Chihuahuan garden on the campus of UT El Paso (UTEP!). Headed back up to Franklin Mountains State Park where I did a couple short but moderately strenuous hikes, complete with cool bugs and hummingbird moths. I made my way to the El Paso Botanical Gardens to look at some cactus and picked up some empanadas (to last the whole weekend) from the Empanaderia. On the way out of town, I stopped by Chamizal National Memorial to learn a little more about border history (and feel sick at the sight of the border wall). I tried to go to Rio Bosque park but after multiple detours and taking a quick look, decided it wasn't worth it. I said goodbye to El Paso and backtracked then turned south at Van Horn. I reached the fabled Prada Marfa store for some pictures, then made it to Marfa! I refueled on coffee at The Sentinel, then decided to check out the nearby loop drive. There were barely any cars out, and despite the intermittent thunderstorms, it was beautiful! Davis Mountains State Park was at the end, and I made it just in time to enjoy the sunset over the mountains. I picked up some pizza from Guzzi Up then called it a night at my motel in Alpine.

Today's distance: 405

Total distance: (/day)

Day 3: West Texas Wandering

STOPS: Marfa Lights, Do Your Thing, Davis Mountains State Park, Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Front Street Books, Cedar Coffee Supply, Frama, The Water Stop

Woke up early to watch the sunrise near the Marfa Lights viewing area. I tried to get a Marfa burrito but it was closed (sadness), but the coffee and avocado toast from Do Your Thing made up for it. I went back to Davis Mountains to do a short hike and find some jays (but no quails). I then spent a little time wandering the gardens at Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (including the awesome cactus collection). I went back to Alpine to get some books at Front Street Books and refueled at Cedar Coffee Supply. I pretty much ran out of things to do at this point, so I went to hang out in Marfa where coincidentally they were holding the Marfa Lights festival with food trucks in the town square. I hung out for a bit then got dinner at The Water Stop, then headed back to Alpine to call it a day.

Today's distance: 244

Total distance: (/day)

Day 4: Alpine to Monahans

STOPS: Marfa Lights, Prada Marfa, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Living Desert State Park, Carniceria San Juan, Monahans Sandhills State Park

Woke up extra early for a long day of adventure. Tried to get some star photos but no luck (need to practice some more). Found a great sunrise spot in Valentine, then continued north past Van Horn to an amazing scenic drive to the Guadalupe Mountains. I took a detour to see the nearby flooded salt flats (apparently this never happens?) then went for a hike in the Guadalupe Moutains, enjoying the best elevation that Texas can offer. I continued driving into New Mexico to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I didn't buy a ticket to see the caves, but I did wander the short trails outside and saw lots of pretty cacti and butterflies. I went to the Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad, which I highly recommend if you're in the area! I picked up some lunch/dinner from Carniceria San Juan, then drove back to Texas through some of the most empty counties before making it to Monahans. I briefly visited the state park for sunset before going to my hotel.

Today's distance: 428

Total distance: (/day)

Day 5: Monahans to Dallas

STOPS: Monahans Sandhills State Park, Sibley Nature Center, Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Abilene Zoo

Today I caught a great sunrise at Monahans Sandhills State Park, watching it rise over the dunes. I started my long drive back to DFW. I stopped at Sibley Nature Center (not much to see), Permian Basin Museum (learned about oil), then made my last stop at the Abilene Zoo, capping off one of my longest daily mileage trips with some great animal encounters. Quite the marathon of driving.

Today's distance: 414

Total distance: (/day)

Trip #7: Surfside Beach

Trip #8: Port Aransas and South Padre Island (again)

Trip #9: San Angelo (again) and Fredericksburg