By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer
Despite living and growing up in Texas, it was only recently that I began listening to country music. I felt no desire to claim my Texan roots, and when someone told me I did not have a country accent I felt immense joy.
That all changed about a year ago when someone took me two-stepping for the first time. I was figuratively and literally swept up in the music as memories from my childhood came rushing back. I remembered dancing to “This Kiss” by Faith Hill and “Cowboy Take Me Away” by The Dixie Chicks with my mom in the living room and the time I won my second-grade talent show with my fiddle-playing.
From that moment on, I threw out all of the previous stereotypes I had about being Texan and decided to embrace the culture around me. The genre I once believed to be too ‘redneck’ for my taste is truly what instilled in me a sense of belonging and pride for my state. I love that Texas is a culmination of cultures from its many different regions, and now that I live in Waco, I feel like I’m at the center of it all. Texas’ central location makes everything truly accessible from here.
There is a country song called “My Texas” by Josh Abbott Band that highlights some of the most treasured places across the state. At the end of every stanza, Abbott sings that if you have not been to that particular spot then “you ain’t met my Texas yet.” Whenever I listen to the song, I mentally check off which places I have been to and have made it a goal to visit the other iconic Texas landmarks mentioned.
For those of you wanting to explore a bit more of your Texas, here are eight of the many essential sites and activities mentioned in the song “My Texas”:
1. Climb up to Enchanted Rock
The large granite dome located near Fredericksburg is believed to have acquired its name from the Comanche and Tonkawa Native American tribes who attributed the rock’s occasional glittering to magic. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area offers visitors 11 miles of hiking trails and 1,602 ft of rock to climb.
2. San Antonio River Walk
After touring the famous Alamo and learning about the four surrounding Spanish missions, visitors can explore the many shops and restaurants that line the 2.5 mile-long river walk. A celebration of the fusion of Texan and Mexican cultures, the river walk also frequently hosts live performances from local dancers and singers.
3. Float down the Frio
‘Frio’ means cold in Spanish, and that is exactly what Texan’s want to feel on a scorching hot day. Located in Concan, the river is surrounded by cabins, cypress trees, and limestone bluffs. Visitors can float the river or rent kayaks and canoes.
4. Houston Rodeo
Every Spring, Houston hosts the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world, where countless famous musicians from Elvis to Beyoncé have performed. Visitors can take a spin on the carnival rides and enjoy their favorite carnival foods, including fried butter. In 2020, the rodeo will be held from March 3 to 22.
5. Catch a trout down in Port A
Port Aransas is located near Corpus Christi on Mustang Island, one of Texas’ barrier islands on the coast. Historically, the island has been home to many — from the Karankawa Indians, to Spanish voyagers and French pirates. Now the beaches are occupied by those on vacation. Many come for the thriving fishing scene that boasts a variety of species, such as trout, flounder, red snapper, tuna, marlin and shark.
6. Have a kolache when you go through West
If you’ve spent some time driving up and down I-35, chances are you have driven through a small town called West, TX. Czech immigrants settled here in the 1800s after the development of the railroad and with them came the kolache, a sweet or savory-filled pastry. Now, visitors travel to West or just make a pit stop to taste their famous kolaches. Czech Stop, Slovack’s, and Village Bakery are some of the notable bakeries.
7. Fort Worth stock show
Fort Worth, also known as ‘Cowtown,’ was once a famous stop on the Chisholm Trail. Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards remain frozen in time with streets lined with general stores and daily cattle drives. Steakhouses and traditional Mexican food options abound here, as do honky-tonks, like Billy Bob’s, which are always packed with country music fans, two-steppers and the occasional mechanical bull.
8. Hike through Big Bend
Rich in its scenery and wildlife, Big Bend encompasses over 800,000 acres of land and uses the winding Rio Grande as its border. Visitors can travel out west to camp under the stars and hike the famous canyons and trails found in this extremely remote National Park.