In Honor by Jessi Kirby, is an uplifting story about healing. Three days after learning of her brother Finn’s death, Honor receives his last letter from Iraq. Devastated, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously sets off on a road trip to California to fulfill it. Joining her is Rusty, Finn’s former best friend and Honor’s former crush. There are twists and turns on the road, and sparks fly between Honor and Rusty. Their journey allows them both to mourn, celebrate, and share parts of Finn’s life with one another, and at the end, find peace in what life has in store for them without Finn.
One thing I really enjoyed about this story was the setting. Road trips are great, but a road trip through Texas is its own brand of special. It’s a state with a huge personality, and not without reason. As the largest continental state, it is about 800 miles wide. So speed limits permitting, it takes a tight 12 hours to drive east to west without stopping. A state this huge has something for everyone. If you’re eager to put pedal to metal and explore this amazing state, check out the list below. And don’t forget to check out In Honor, one of current featured reads available until May 22!
LAST REMAINING BOUNDARY MARKER FOR THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS
—CARTHAGE (Just over the Louisiana border)
Fun Fact: Texas is the only state in the country to have ever been its own country, which means they are also the only state that can fly the state flag at the same height as the American flag. The Republic of Texas had a good ten-year run back in the 1800s, and they certainly wanted any and everyone to know when they were in sovereign territory. This is a great place to start off your trip!
I usually think of Texas weather as dusty and dry, but its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes Houston a swampy city. It boasts many sites of varying beauty and historical value, but when put to a poll (asking my Texan pals), Hermann Park was the place to visit on everyone’s list. Strategically located on McGovern Lake, the 445 acre park includes a golf course, zoo, and a two-mile train track for the Hermann Park railroad. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, a quick exploration of the 10,000 species of flora, or a train ride to Destination Mound Town, an underground mural.
HOPE OUTDOOR GALLERY—AUSTIN
As the first city to create the Keep Weird slogan, there are a lot of activities to choose from. But this construction project once destined to be a condo has become a pillar of the artistic community. Since 2011, street artists and muralists have kept the walls of this gallery alive with new art, and the surrounding grassy area is perfect for sitting back with a Topo Chico and food truck tacos.
NATIONAL COWGIRL MUSEUM AND HALL OF FAME—FORT WORTH
According to their mission statement, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame “celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West.” What other museum could unite Sandra Day O’Connor, Annie Oakley, and Sacagawea?
GRAVE OF PAT THE HORSE—SAN ANTONIO
Pawnee isn’t the only town that really loves its ponies. After seeing the Alamo or the Natural Bridge Caverns, stop by this homage to a true Texas hero, Pat the Horse. After coming to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in 1912, the young brown thoroughbred known as Pat soon became a favorite for the military men to practice training drills and maneuvers. This dedicated affection eventually saved Pat from suffering the same fate as many of the cavalry horses, many of which were stripped of their military ranking and sentenced to death when the army began disposing of its cavalry horses.
This is Texas’s oldest operating dance hall! Gruene, Texas is an adorable tiny town with a few restaurants and shops to poke around in, but the real gem is this rustic concert hall that has kept most of its original layout with side flaps (so you can line dance in and outside), a small lighted stage (for acts that range from Willie Nelson to their monthly Gospel Brunch), and a huge outdoor garden. Gruene is a relatively short drive between Houston and Austin, makes it an easy stop as you speed across the interstate.
BALMORHEA STATE PARK—WEST TEXAS
The weather in Texas is always hot, hotter, and sidewalk-melting-can’t-quite-breathe-forget-the-egg-and-take-out-the-bacon hottest. And while the dusty, tumbleweeded roads of West Texas aren’t the usual place I’d recommend for cooling off, Balmorhea State Park makes it worth the trip for its enormous spring-fed swimming pool. If your fingers start to prune before you’re ready to leave, you can get your ornithology on or visit the nearby ciénegas, a kind of wetland only seen in the American Southwest.
Marfa might be the most purposefully weird and artsy town in Texas (sorry, Austin). It’s definitely worth the detour for the ‘grammable moment in front of this Prada storefront.
PALO DURO CANYON—CANYON
If you want to skip the Grand Canyon, the Palo Duro Canyon in the aptly named Canyon, Texas has stunning views, and plenty of chances for camping under the stars.
EIFFEL TOWER WITH COWBOY HAT—PARIS
Don’t act like you don’t want to go.
PECAN PIE VENDING MACHINE—CEDAR CREEK
If you need this Texas staple on-the-go, stop by Bedroll Pecan Farm to see the world’s one and only pecan pie vending machine!
Did I miss your favorite Texas attractions? Let me know in the comments!