Written by Rev. Bonnie Stephens Canizaro
Those of you who are not familiar with Austin will be delighted to experience the many places in which a student can spend time alone with God. Studying the Bible is fascinating, and studying theology in depth is challenging; but sometimes a student just needs a place apart. My favorite places to go for that time alone are found wrapped in the arms of Nature.
You’ve probably already discovered the nooks and crannies of our campus and found them refreshing, especially when you are alone or with someone special in the evening or morning.
Just south of the APTS campus is the UT campus and a few of the earliest churches in Austin. These areas are fascinating, especially on weekends when the other students have gone home; there are statues, churches, plaques, plays, libraries, vistas, and hidden spots under shade trees. Be aware of dangers, though, and bring a companion if the areas seem deserted. Be sure to learn about the original UT baseball diamond that enabled UT to take first place in 1949-50. You will enjoy visiting the LBJ library, too.
South of that campus is the capitol of Texas. These grounds hold many treasures as well and are within walking distance. The capitol building is open almost every day, so it is a good place to visit during holidays. Sit in the gallery some time when the legislature is in session for a bird’s eye view of how things happen. Be sure to notice the women’s restroom on the Senate side; it was built for Senator Barbara Jordan, who was the first woman senator (and there was no women’s restroom on that side of the building). Be sure to visit her statue in the baggage area of Austin’s airport next time you fly. She was one of Texas’ most amazing statesmen, and I heard her speak on the Senate floor. The Bob Bullock Museum is excellent and introduces visitors to Texas history. Yearly passes are available, so take your family when they come to visit.
January is the best month in the year for being outdoors in Texas. The warm afternoons and few other patrons make it perfect for visiting parks. Visit Zilker Park and walk around Barton Springs, being sure to visit the place where one of the original springs continues to bubble up. The area is
open at no cost for non-swimmers when there is no event — though the summer outdoor plays are excellent. This is a great place for picnicking and kite-flying, too.
In the rest of the city there are numerous parks including Pease Park and others that have walking trails and creeks cutting through them. Be cautious, however, about flooding. Texas has more drowning deaths than any other state, largely because when it rains upstream, the dry creek bed suddenly fills with water that washes away careless people.
City Park is a nice drive through the highlands west of the city, and the pecans are excellent in the fall. Swimming and boating are available in season, and picnicking and camping areas are provided, too. This is my favorite destination for a Sunday afternoon.
Outside the city are numerous day-trip and weekend destinations — we even have a national park in the Big Bend. At one time the US put a fort every 100 miles, so they are interesting to visit. Texas won its independence in 1836, so there are several cities, like Goliad, which have preserved historic buildings.
The best time to drive on the Texas highways is March, when the bluebonnets are blooming. There are hundreds of state parks all over the state, and there are several CCC projects which made interesting areas accessible. Longhorn Cavern is one of the best; it’s the third largest cavern in the US (1/100th the size of Mammoth).
There’s good fishing on the seven Highland Lakes northwest of Austin. There’s a beautiful,
natural lake in east Texas and amazing vistas in the west.
Palo Duro State Park is only a few miles east of Amarillo; it’s a canyon that was unknown except to Native Americans until 1926.
Most of the state parks in Texas have cabins where patrons can spend a few days to a week throughout the year. These are so popular that the best time to sign up is in January, when the books open for the coming year.
Don’t forget a trip to the coast, especially taking advantage of the pleasant fall and spring weather. Check out several possibilities, especially the smaller beaches that attract fewer visitors. Pick up lots of seashells and enjoy the seafood, too!
McAllen and south Texas provide a good place to camp outdoors in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The weather is wonderful: warm, sunny days and cool nights. The oranges are the size of grapefruit and the grapefruit is as sweet as oranges; so plan to bring home a bushel or two. You can even pick them yourself.
Pick up a Texas State Travel Guide (free) at one of the entry points into the state, order at 800/452-9292 or write P. O. Box 149249, Austin, Texas 78714. Visit TravelTex.com.
Can you tell that I used to work in the Texas Capitol, directing people to all the amazing places to visit in Texas?