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Check out this great video of West Texas
Windows Into Texas will have a booth at the Rockport Art Festival in July!!! Come out and see us on Saturday, July 6th and Sunday, July 7th. We will have more than 20 prints on metal, acrylic and framed. Father's Day is coming up, Great time to pick up something for dad! Come out and enjoy Rockport!
We are working on adding the ability to buy prints through the website. We will send an update on the Windows Into Texas Facebook and Instagram pages as soon as this is set up.
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Please see the Windows Into Texas video on You Tube. Jason Siver did a great job on making this video. We are looking to put a few more videos out in 2018. The link where you can find the video is https://youtu.be/OTopEd3sM1s
More to come...
A special thank you to Shadows & Light magazine for the Windows Into Texas story in their Winter 2018 issue!!
Thank you to The Eakin Group for being a Windows Into Texas sponsor. Please see the image on the sponsor tab found in the menu. Please use the Eakin Group for your real estate needs.
Thank you to Coastal Views Vacation Rentals of Rockport for being a sponsor. It's great to see the town of Rockport coming back after Hurricane Harvey. There is still so much to do but Coastal Views Vacation Rentals are wrapping up repairs and ready to book beautiful vacation rental homes again. Please contact Coastal Views Vacation Rentals of Rockport when visiting the Rockport area!
Phone 361-463-3354 and 832-868-9907
We put a few of our images in the photo gallery below but most of the images are in the tabs on the menu bar at the top of the page. We have West Texas and East Texas uploaded. We will have images for the Panhandle and Plains soon.
West Texas on 11/14/2017
West Texas 3/3/2018
See the travel notes in Not All Who Wander Are Lost below.
We are Texans with a passion for the beauty and diversity of our state. In our travels we find that we enjoy reminiscing about the places we've gone and the things we've seen across our great state. Things like taking family road trips, stopping in the middle of the night to get gas, watching the sun come up as we drive along a long highway, knowing there are still miles and miles to go. As we've talked with family and friends about these experiences, we find these are memories we can all relate to and enjoy.
We travel the state finding unique places to see and talking with some of the "every day" people who contribute to the diversity and character of our wonderful state. Windows Into Texas is our way of sharing with you some of the amazing things in and about our state.
We use this site to provide images from our travels around the state. We add commentary and descriptions to give site visitors a sense of the beauty, diversity and uniqueness of Texas. You can find a few of our images in the photo gallery below. More images are available on the images tab located at the top of the webpage.
We write about the things we see and do on our blog, Not All Who Wander Are Lost. We also blog about our upcoming trip plans. Please send suggestions on places to visit through our Contact Us link below.
We visit and photograph all seven of Texas' distinct geographical regions: West Texas/Big Bend, Panhandle and Plains, Hill Country, Prairies and Lakes, South Texas Plains, East Texas/Piney Woods, and the Gulf Coast.
All images are available for download in high resolution .jpg format. All images are available for purchase printed on photo quality paper. Select images are available as framed art. We also offer calendars and postcards. A series of Windows Into Texas books, each focusing on a different theme, is in development.
3/3/2018 West Texas - This road trip was a little different in that my son Jason was with me this time. Jason has his own photography and video effort, we had been looking for something to do together. We want to add more to the Windows Into Texas experience, we think video will offer those who follow us a whole new experience in the places we go. Jason and I have been planning this for several months. We are excited to share this with you. Jason is working on the editing now. We have 5 or 6 videos in the works, the first one will be out in the next few weeks.
We headed west on I10 on a clear night with a full moon lighting our way. Our goal was to be set up on the side of Hwy 170, west of Lajitas by 5am. If you have not driven the highways in West Texas its hard to imagine the wide open space between towns. The full moon made the drive unique. You could clearly see the mountains and the open space. We passed deer and an occasional skunk but the amount of jackrabbits was hard to believe. It felt a little like being in a Stephen King novel. There were hundreds along and on the highways. The speed limit is pretty high out there. I was bucking along around 75 mph most of the way you don't make sudden turns at those speeds but I am happy to report that no jackrabbit lost its life to my Ford on this road trip. We traveled south on Hwy 67. We went through Alpine and headed south on Hwy 118. Other than watching for jackrabbits it was a smooth drive. We arrived in Terlingua about 4am, a little ahead of schedule. Carol will tell you that I am big on schedule. I may become a little obsessed with staying on schedule on road trips. I have a long list of the benefits of staying on schedule but its probably more to do with psychological issues than anything else. As long as I plan for stops at McD's Carol is happy. We topped off on gas and stretched our legs then headed west on Hwy 170. The last time I stayed in Terlingua I met Larry at the El Dorado. Larry was the one who told me about the beauty of Hwy 170. We stopped at a pull out about 10 miles west of Lajitas. The moon as bight and the view was amazing. We had hoped to catch the Milky Way but the bright moon washed out most of the light of the Milky Way. It was breezy and about 55 degrees. We set up our cameras and GoPro's. We were able to get some nice photos of the sky and surrounding area. It still amazes me that you see no one on Hwy 170. It is quiet and peaceful. We found a spot that looked to align with the sunrise that was a few minutes away. I still get excited when I know the sun is about to come up. Honestly it surprises me more people do not get up to witness such a sight. Once the sky starts to light up I hear music in my head and I start snapping away at the sunrise. The colors are amazing. That first glimpse of the sun coming over the horizon is special. We stayed for a bit and got more photos and some video. We headed back towards Lajitas and Terlingua, making occasional stops along the way to get more photos of the Rio Grande and surrounding landscape. We stopped in Terlingua for a quick breakfast. We were hungry and had been going at it for a while, that was an enjoyable breakfast. We headed into Big Bend National Park. We had a schedule and several places to capture. It was a perfect weather day. Cool temps and a clear sky. We headed to Santa Elena Canyon, stopping to get a photo of Mule Ears. Santa Elena Canyon is something special to see. The Rio Grande cuts through rock to form the canyon. Mexico on the south, Texas on the north. This is not the Rio Grande that you may see on TV from El Paso, Laredo or close to the gulf coast. It is a beautiful flowing river that works its way through the desert. There is something spiritual very peaceful aboutSanta Elena Canyon. It should be a must on your bucket list. There is a "short cut" from Santa Elena Canyon to Chisos Basin Visitor Center. Maverick Road is a dirt/rock road that takes a more direct route. You can make it in a car but should drive slow and know your car will get dirty. If you have a 4x4, it is too much fun to pass up. Jason and I got a lot of video footage here, I am anxious to see the video when Jason gets through putting it together. From our fun on Maverick Road we headed into Chisos Basin Visitor Center. Our plan was to hike The Window trail and catch the sunset from there. We had been going over over 24 hours straight and I will admit I was feeling it a bit. But the beauty of the area and the anticipation of the views keeps you moving. We downed some water and loaded of backpacks and headed out on the trail. The trail is considered moderate on difficulty and is about 2.6 miles each way. One other point, the trail is at 5,400 feet in elevation. The trail is amazing. The sunlight catches the rocky terrain and provides a lot of amazing colors. You cannot help but stop and look around and grab some photos. The trail will work you out but is manageable. The payoff is the incredible view from the Window. The Widow is a V in a rocky cliff that offers a great view. The area at the Windows slopes down and is extremely slippery. The rock there is like a tile floor. I don't mind telling you that seeing my son hop down to the ledge to get some photos freaked me out. I would not get near the ledge but was able to get some really great images. This is the point where I will be very open with you - I took about 100 steps heading back on the trail when I completely ran out of gas. I didn't hurt but my head was foggy and I didn't feel like I could take even one more step. I have never felt like this. We went on a little further then I had to sit down. Jason looked a little worried, I thought great. Jason headed back up the trail to get Gatorade and bring it back to me. I sat there a minute and leaned my head back. I felt myself shake then opened my eyes. I had started to nod off. I was exhausted and had pushed it. It hit a wall and was tapped but, I still had almost 2 miles to hike to get out of there and it was getting dark fast. I headed back up the trail and met Jason as he was bringing me Gatorade. He looked relieved. We headed up the trail and made it back to the truck. I had never felt like this and learned a valuable lesson, do NOT head out on trails when you are not physically prepared. I work out and am in decent shape. I have been checked our medically and have no limitations but this was a wake up call for me. A little wounded pride and a huge lesson learned. Jason drove us out of the park and we headed to Alpine to stop for the night. We had considered running over to see the Marfa Lights but we were both whipped! We grabbed a quick Mc's in Carols honor and headed to the hotel. That was one of the best hot showers ever. I slept like the dead that night. We headed on back the next day and had a great drive back. Great father son time and a lot of great photos and video. Jason and I chat just about everyday and he shared a short draft of the first video. I was grinning eat to ear. We are both excited for the videos and we both had a great experience.
For those in West Texas I kind of get it now. I am starting to understand the magic. For those who have not been you should make it a priority. Your eyes need to see this landscape. The photos help give a feel but seeing it with your own eyes is something that changes you.
As I have mentioned before we feel like we take all of you with us when we travel and enjoy the experience with each of you. For those who cannot travel we are grateful for the opportunity to share what we see and experience with you. Please keep the comments coming, we enjoy them very much. Thanks to all for sharing and liking our pages and visiting the website. We continue to grow thanks to your help!
2/10/2018 Llano - We have been traveling to the different geographical regions of Texas over the last few months. We have been talking to a lot of people and meeting a lot of new friends. Texas is special and people have such a pride in telling you about their town and their history. We also want to show the contrast in the landscape from east to west, north to south and everything in between. It seems like every place we go I think "THIS looks like Texas!". We will continue to cover the regions but will also start focusing on specific towns and points of interest. We will go a little more in depth with images and commentary. One of the first places we wanted to go to go was Llano. I lived in Austin for many years and passed through Llano several times but Carol and I wanted to go and spend a little more time and get a better feel for Llano. I never known anyone who doesn't like to travel around the Hill Country. There are so many great places to visit but Llano should be a priority. People often ask us for suggestions on where to go, Llano will be a recommendation. We traveled northwest on Hwy 71 towards Llano. You see a change in the geography as you go through Austin. The the flatland gives way to gradual rolling hills. The winter was holding on as we headed into Llano. A cold front came through the morning we arrived. The temperature dropped 20-30 degrees as it usually does when a cold front passes through. The clouds rolled in with the cold front. No sunsets or sunrises on this visit but there was plenty to do and see. We stayed in Circle Your Wagons Bed & Breakfast located 1 3/4 miles outside of town on Ranch Road 152. This is one of the best bed and breakfast we have stayed at. Very clean and nicely decorated. We hoped for a quiet and peaceful place to stay, Circle Your Wagons was perfect. Owners Jim and Phyllis Norfleet greeted us and showed us around. The house has great history and had all of the modern conveniences. Carol is more of a camping and roughing it person than I am. We got the best of both worlds here. As Jim was showing us around the property he introduced us to Pepper Jack and R2D2, great ambassadors for the bed & breakfast. Pepper Jack and R2D2 are miniature donkeys. Jim was kind enough to spend some time with us to tell us about many of the points of interest around Llano. Llano has several festivals including the LEAF/Llano Earth Arts Festival and the Llano Fiddle Fest. I have to admit I had not heard of rock stacking competitions but this is on my list of things to see now. This is featured at the Llano Earth Arts Festival. Jim and Phyllis went above and beyond on service! We went to the square in Llano to get a sense of the local shops and meet people. The Llano County Courthouse sits in the middle of town, a very traditional looking Texas courthouse. We stopped in Main Street Affairs first. Main Street Affairs is a wine bar and gift shop and a great gathering place for people to hang out and relax. Large couches for people to sit and visit or read a book. Carol and I finished our day here. Yes, I had some of their chocolate. Shops line the square. You will not have a problem finding places to see. Fuel Coffee House is a very unique coffee shop. Fuel is a non-profit, non-denominational coffee house. The founders wanted to provide the community with a gathering place. This is a must see place when you are in Llano. We also met Marcus and Valerie at Calamity and Grace Arts, Gifts and Gallery. Calamity and Grace provide art supplies to the community and has a gallery for their visitors. We visited with Marcus and Valerie for a while. Marcus was telling us a little more on the rock stacking activities around LEAF, Carol found some jewelry she liked. Calamity and Grace has a booth at the Llano Earth Arts Festival - we are very happy to announce that we will show some of the Windows Into Texas canvas wrap prints in canvas wrap and framed in the Calamity and Grace booth at the festival! The festival is Friday, March 9th through Monday, March 12 at Grenwelge Park. You need to plan to attend the Llano Earth Arts Festival to see the World Rock Stacking Championship and come see us at the Calamity and Grace booth.
Carol and I spent a little more time walking around town to see some of the points of interest. The Llano river runs through town. The Roy B. Inks bridge crosses the river in Llano. There are sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, there are great views of the river from the bridge. The llano Red Top Jail is nearby. The jail was built in 1895 and made from granite quarried from the area. Badu park is on the north side of the river and a great place to get photos and see town from the river. There are several places to eat. If you stay at a bed and breakfast your may get a great breakfast like we did or you can find places in town to eat. Coopers Old Time Pit BBQ is well known and a great place to eat.
We had a great time in Llano and highly recommend it as a weekend trip. We are really looking forward to being involved in the Llano Earth Arts Festival in March and hope to see may of you here. Spring is coming fast and the hill country is famous for wildflowers. As we loaded up Sunday morning to head out it started sleeting. You know there will always be that last blast of cold air that comes through before spring. This one packed a punch but you can feel spring is coming.
1/29/2018 Central Gulf Coast – The Texas Gulf Coast is unique in its beauty and unique in how you access the different points along the coast. There is not a single highway that you can take along the coast. There are several small and medium size towns along the coast that have their own appeal and history and very much worth a visit but planning your travel is important to gain access to parts of the upper, central and lower Texas coast.
We headed south of the Houston area on I59. You can start getting a sense of the coastal landscape as soon as you get south of the Houston area. The land gets mostly flat. This drive reminds me of when I was young and would travel to the coast with my parents. Not a lot has changed, and the anticipation is similar. You know you will see the water of the bay or the gulf soon and you know it will have that salty smell. Seagulls will make their familiar sound.
We take the Hwy 172 exit in Ganado. We were headed to Indianola. I had not been to Indianola, I was looking forward to seeing what was there. As we were speeding down Hwy 172 I saw a sign and an observation platform on the side of the highway. I stopped and pulled into the Formosa-Tejano Wetlands. This area was dedicated in 1999, it has previously been used for rice farming. It’s an interesting place to pull over and climb up the observation platform to see the different types of birds in the area. We continued on towards Indianola. I had heard of Indianola growing up. I remember reading that it was an up and coming port on the Texas gulf coast but had been battered by 2 hurricanes in the 1800’s. I was curious what was still there? We turned onto Hwy 35 and headed through Point Comfort. It did seem pretty comfortable that day, but I can image how muggy it must be in August. We turned off of Hwy 35 near Port Lavaca and continued on Hwy 238. We continued on Hwy 316 around Chocolate Bay. Hwy 316 hit the Matagorda Bay coastline and we came up on Indianola Texas State Historical Marker in a little park area. There is a Texas State historical marker that tells a little about Indianola. How it was a major seaport from 1844 to 1875 and the area played a part in the civil war. Indianola was partially destroyed by a hurricane in 1875 and completely destroyed by another hurricane in 1886. There is also a monument of La Salle in the same park area. La Salle was born in France in 1643 and landed in Matagorda Bay in 1685. There are a few other markers in the area and a few bay houses and the Indianola Fishing Marina. They have a beautiful view of Matagorda Bay, it is interesting to imagine what may have been if those hurricanes had not destroyed Indianola.
We left Indianola and headed to Rockport. As we have mentioned before we have family in Rockport. We headed to Rockport a couple of weeks after Harvey and we looked forward to seeing how much had been done since the hurricane. We will be adding a second post on Rockport and some of the surrounding areas in the next few days. This deserves attention. We are not reporters, nor do we speak for the local government agencies. We saw there is still so much to be done. There are those still dealing with getting back on their feet. There are those who lost everything and had no insurance. I wonder if they will ever come back. But I was amazed on how much was accomplished since I was last in the area. There is still a lot of cleanup work going on and likely will be for months to come. But we also saw many businesses open and looking for people to visit. There are hotels under repair and it will be a while before things can be close to anything that could be called normal. But we had no problems getting gas, shopping, getting food at the grocery store or finding a place to stay. My family lives on Copano Bay on the outside of Rockport. They have their house and 3 rental houses. We also have very close friends that lives next to these houses on Copano Bay. We have spent may weekends and holidays here and have such great memories. All of these houses were in Harvey’s direct path and took a beating. I still cannot believe what we saw when we went back. Our hearts were broke for our family and friends and all of those we saw after the hurricane. But, things have come such a long way. The power was restored to the area where our family lives within 2-3 weeks. That is not the case for everyone in the area. Some are still struggling to get basic services. The landscape looks dramatically different. But we sat out on the porch and watched an amazing sunset on Copano Bay. We had a nice dinner and enjoyed visiting with family. The houses are all open and almost 100% restored. There are people booking reservations again. That is so great to see and hear. Again, more to come on Rockport.
After catching a great sunset on Copano Bay we spent the night in Rockport. We got up early the next morning and headed to the Fulton harbor to catch the sunrise. It was an amazing sunrise. We have posted images on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
After spending a beautiful morning in the Fulton and Rockport area we headed to North Padre Island. We have been to south Padre Island but not to North Padre Island. The park was not very crowded, but it surprised us to find people walking along the beach and camping out. It was in the 50’s and had dipped into the 30’s the night before. This is one of the few areas where you can drive on the beach. It is clean and a unique drive. We went for about 10 miles. We have a 4x4 so had no problems driving. Most of the drive is on packed sand but towards to the end of the 10 miles the sand was less packed, and I was glad we had 4-wheel drive. We took photos of the beach area and have posted several. The views here are very Texas. There have been so many times where we have drove into a town or down a highway and I thought how it just looks like Texas. Even with the diversity of the state there are so many images that just look like Texas. Standing on rocks overlooking the Rio Grande west of Lajitas in West Texas looks very Texas. The beach in North Padre Island looks just as Texas but you could not find 2 images with more of a contrast.
We had one more stop on this roundtrip, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. We had passed the sign for the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge many times on our visits to Rockport. We had wanted to stop there but this would be our first visit. We took Hwy 774 off Hwy 35 to get to the park. I was really amazed at how much agriculture there was along Hwy 774. If you look at Google Maps you can see this. We passed through Austwell and headed into the park. The staff at the park was very helpful in telling us where to go and where to get the best vantage points for photos. The park road takes you along the coast with several places to stop and hike. I was headed up a trail and saw a pond off to the left. An egret was standing about 35 feet away, so I walked slowly… carefully … stealthy like. The egret kept walking along the edge of a pond and was about to go around a mound of the side of the pond. When I focused my eyes a bit I saw this was not a mound. It was an alligator. There was a whole lot of nature going on there. I kept watching as the egret walked close to the alligator. I was thinking I was going to get one of those Mutual of Omaha moment photos. The alligator never moved. The egret looked like it would fly off if needed but, no nature eating nature moments – other than the egret feeding.
We saw deer, hogs, javelina, an alligator, and so many different types of birds. One of the great features in the refuge is an observation platform. All of the walkways and lookouts are in great shape. The observations platform takes you well above the trees and gives a great vantage point to see around the area. It is made of steel and is a series of ramps that take you up. As I was headed up to check out the view I noticed turkey buzzards lined up along the top pf the platform. I mean a lot of turkey buzzards. They watched me as I walked up but didn’t look too alarmed. I was watching but sense I am higher on the food chain I was sure they would scatter as I got close. A few flew off but most of them watched me as I got closer. Most of them did not fly off until I was about 5 feet away. It was windy so some of them just leaned over and fell, catching the wind. Several of them hovered about 5 – 10 feet from my head. I kept going and they minded their own business…. Mostly. They quickly landed on the railing again. I posted a video on our Facebook page that gives you a good idea of how many there were and how close they were. The view from the top of the platform is really great. You need to have binoculars and a good zoom lens for your camera. We watched the sun go down from here and it was a great view. If you look at some of the sunset photos from here, you can tell we are above the tops of the trees.
We listened to Judge Wise’s Wise About Texas podcast and a variety of music. In many places we have the roof opened and the windows down and just listened to the wind.
The area still shows scars from Harvey and will for a while. But the area can handle visitors again and needs tourism dollars. We will be posting the Rockport story soon to say a little more.
Thanks as always for traveling with us….
South Texas Gulf Coast and South Texas
We will continue to visit the major geographical regions around the state. These include the South Texas Plains, and more of the Gulf Coast.
Hwy 170, west of Lajitas
"I LOVE that you are doing this! I've been living on your Facebook photos for years so this is extra special. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE" Julie Ledbetter 11/2017
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