Texas is hot in the summer, no news flash there. In late August, the steam begins rising off the pavement by mid-morning, and suburban neighborhoods full of children are reminiscent of west Texas ghost towns, while all the pint sized buckaroos cool off in their back yard pools. It is at this point in the summer that the faint of heart, probably with Yankee roots, head for the hills.
Florida may have its winter “Snowbirds”, but mountain towns in Colorado and New Mexico have their fare share of “Toasted Armadillos.” As lovely and welcoming as these places are in the dog days of summer…been there, done that. Let’s think outside the air-conditioned box Dallas!
Grab your kiddos, swimming gear, a picnic lunch, several pints of Blue Bell ice cream, and load up your SUV, we’re heading south! I realize the idea of heading towards the border on Interstate 35 in the middle of summer, when there can’t possibly be a University of Texas football game starting any time soon is a little scary, but hang with me here. I am about to take you to the promised land.
After about 4 hours in your Suburban, which equates to about 2.5 movies in the backseat DVD player, you’ll exit the freeway and begin winding through the hill country. This is when the excitement begins to build. Every now and then you’ll get a glimpse of a sparkling green-blue river that runs parallel with the road. It’s clean, it looks cold and there are more trees in a one mile stretch around here than there are in the entire city of Dallas. Pull into Garner State Park and grab a rubber floating tube; you are about to forget that it is 105 degrees outside.
Jump in and float down the lazy river, or if you’re really daring, grab one of the ropes hanging from the many trees. Swing out over the water and then let go! Trust me when I tell you that you are 16 once again. After your kids have exhausted themselves with the rope swing, it’s time for a leisurely family float. I hope you grabbed an extra float for your cooler. Meander down the river a little ways, until you find one of the tiny islands where you can set up shop. This is the life. Pop open the cooler, and let the kids go crazy by eating their ice cream before their lunch. Watch your family splash around enjoying themselves and congratulate yourself on finding this jewel. Doesn’t it feel cooler down here?
Spend the entire day, load up the tank, and hit one of the smoked brisket stands on your way home. I guarantee the kids will sleep all the way home, and you’ll enjoy driving through Austin and Dallas at night when the traffic has gone home already. It’s true what they say, “The stars at night are big and bright.”
Getting there– This is Texas, so we’re all used to long drives for a little excitement. I’d head down after work on a Friday. You’ll be there late, but your kiddos will be fresh in the morning. Spend the entire day, wear them out, and head back to the Big D.