Published Work

Travel Guidebook

Moon Handbooks: Texas

Texas has an independent spirit unmatched across the globe. Its people, like its landscapes, are rugged, fiery, captivating, and endearing. The one element that ropes them all together is an immense Texas pride. The Lone Star State’s mystique is enormous, and for good reason—Texas is practically a country unto itself, and people continue to be intrigued by its dynamic magnetism.

Friday Night Lights. Barbecued beef ribs. Austin City Limits. Chisholm Trail cowboys. You can’t swing a pinata stick in Texas without encountering a cultural icon. It’s what makes the state such an enigma and such a fascinating place to explore.

Perhaps most intriguing about Texas are the bountiful authentic experiences you’ll discover just below the surface—the dusty rodeo in a small Panhandle town, the perfect slice of pecan pie at an unassuming restaurant in the Piney Woods, the iridescent indigo hue of a field of Hill Country bluebonnets. You could spend a year exploring the state’s natural and cultural wonders and still find yourself with dozens of destinations remaining on your must-see list--all certain to become unforgettable future memories.

San Antonio chapter excerpt

San Antonio is a mythical city, and for good reason. Its beginnings predate the founding of the United States by more than half a century, the legendary Alamo is a cultural icon, and the city’s missions represent an era of Spanish colonialism that becomes more fascinating as each new detail is learned. Add to that the lure of the River Walk, amusement parks, and the city’s welcoming lack of pretension, and it should come as no surprise that San Antonio regularly appears in top-10 lists of favorite travel destinations in Texas and the United States.

San Antonio (population 1,296,682) is the ninth-largest city in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but it’s certainly not evident to visitors savoring long lunches at downtown patio cafes alongside casually dressed office workers. Nor is it obvious when you’re sitting atop the Tower of the Americas, surveying the modest skyline, devoid of egocentric glass monuments dedicated to power and prosperity. It’s certainly not noticeable in the genuine greetings and friendly eye contact you’ll encounter around every street corner.

It’s the kind of town ideally suited for a getaway--no stressful hustle and bustle, just a steady flow of activity among an impressive infrastructure of historic buildings and modern conveniences. Most visitors come to San Antonio on a pilgrimage to see the Alamo, even though they likely couldn’t tell you about its significance in U.S. history. The nearby River Walk is one of the top tourist destinations in the entire state, with its tantalizing smells, colorful sights, and vibrant energy.

Austin Monthly travel article

Let's Boogie! Marshall, Texas Finds Its Groove

Every Wednesday night in the small northeast Texas town of Marshall, tuned-in locals and visitors start buzzing about the music. They head to OS2 pub and restaurant, where they’ll eat, drink and dance to boogie-woogie all night.

The throwback music style, popularized by artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis who helped create rock ’n’ roll, was invented in Marshall, according to recent research. The findings link boogie-woogie to former slaves who played fast piano tunes based on the chuffing steam engines they heard while working at the Texas and Pacific Railway in Marshall.

City officials quickly dubbed the town “The Birthplace of Boogie Woogie.” Along with the thriving local galleries and museums, the scene has positioned the town of 25,000 as a historical arts and culture hotspot.
-June 2011 issue

Magazine Articles - The Medallion

Current Medallion Travel Article

Two Steppin' in Time: Boots Still Scootin' on Historic Texas Dance Hall Floors

It's easy to kick up the past at Schneider Hall. Just a glimpse at the inviting dance floor conjures up images of couples two-steppin' the night away to traditional Texas music, with a fiddle, accordion, and upright bass guiding the dancers to swing their partners while spinning and shuffling their boots late into the southeastern Texas evening.

The weathered wooden building is virtually unchanged since its construction in the early 1930s. Like many other German dance halls near Columbus, Schneider Hall hosted families who gathered after a hard week of farming to enjoy a smoked-meat meal, time-honored ales, and old-fashioned dancing.

Travel Feature - Big Bend Ranch State Park

Upon approach, the rock shelter in Big Bend Ranch State Park appears to be a simple outcropping of limestone. Even its shadowy nook is modest and unassuming, belying the historical treasure within.

Once inside, it takes nearly a minute for your eyes to fully adjust and absorb the magnitude of the ancient artwork on the ceiling’s rock canvas. One by one, they appear—first the black fingers, then white, and finally red outlines of the most recognizable and primal forms of human connection: hands.

These mesmerizing pictographs, painted by Native Americans nearly 2,000 years ago, represent some of the finest publicly accessible rock art in Texas. The site, named Manos Arriba (Spanish for “hands up”), is especially distinctive because it is one of the region’s only known archeological sites to feature handprints exclusively.

-Summer 2013 issue

Swingin' Salones: Mexican-American Dance Halls

Tucked behind rolling hills in a grassy pasture just west of Floresville is a modest structure barely visible from FM 536. Drivers who catch a glimpse of the low-slung building might mistake it for a barn or storage shed. They wouldn’t suspect it once raised a community’s collective spirit with vivacious music, passionate dancing, and memories that endured for decades.

This popular salon (dance hall) was known as Yndo Park, a family-oriented facility that hosted dances and celebrations. Like hundreds of other salones in the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Texas Tropical Trail Region and throughout South Texas, it peaked in popularity during the 1940s and ‘50s. Step inside one of these buildings on a Saturday night, and it’s easy to conjure up a simpler time when dancing, music, and socializing inspired people to endure another work week in anticipation of the dance halls’ lively weekend fiestas.
-July/August 2010 issue