When you think of taking a holiday to the USA your mind probably wanders to the clear blue waters of Florida or the incredible national parks on the West Coast, and we don't blame you, they make for an amazing adventure. But, have you ever thought about a road trip through America's second largest state, Texas?
The Lone Star State is often overlooked for the likes of California, Utah and Washington, but Texas has just as much to offer that's for sure! We have a little chat with our American Adventure Specialist, Jo Sheridan who spent nine days travelling through the Lone Star State on our Texas Ranger tour, sampling delicious Tex Mex, hiking superb national parks and experiencing life on an authentic Texas ranch, here's what she had to say...
1.What was it about this area of the states that appealed to you?
The climate, scenery and the great outdoors of Western Texas – particularly Big Bend National Park!
2. You visit Big Bend National Park, what was it like to hike along the dusty trails?
Big Bend is stunning and staying at the Chisos Mountain Lodge in the heart of the park was a highlight of the trip. We managed several hikes, starting with the Lost Mine when we arrived (probably still my favourite but that’s a tough call!) Take lots of water and I’d recommend walking boots as it’s a 5 mile round trip…with the first half being uphill. On the first part of the trail you’re rewarded with amazing views of Casa Grande and Juniper Canyon. Keep going, persevere with the steeper climbs through the forested area and you’re rewarded with reaching the top...and what a view it is! The top is a level rocky plateau with the most mind blowing views across into the Sierra del Carmen in Mexico! Take care with the 2.5miles back down as it’s loose under foot. There are also several trails out from the lodge, with everything from a 1 mile round trip through to a strenuous 10 mile round trip up to Emory Peak and everything in between!
You have to do at least one trail that takes in a view through 'The Window', it makes for some truly spectacular photos especially when the sun is setting.
3.Texas is famous for its live music venues and tasty Tex-Mex, did you and your tour group experience a lot of this on your trip?
We certainly did! Coming back to the cities, there is a big food truck trend hitting Texas. From lone trucks through to whole areas designated to trucks centred around a canopied seating area, you can really pick and choose what you want to eat. The Tex-Mex is delicious and pretty reasonably priced. My favourite meal though had to be Stubb’s BBQ in Austin – work up an appetite and go for the Stubb’s Major Plate! Think fall off the bone ribs, the best chopped beef, smoked chicken, perfectly seasoned beef brisket and put it with your choice of sides! (mmm sweet potato fries!) …then head to 6th Street to dance it off!
4. What was it like to stay on an authentic Texan ranch? What did you do whilst you were there?
The Ranch was probably everyone’s favourite part of the trip. You are encouraged to treat the place like home, wander around the grounds, relax with a beer and a game of pool, sit round around the huge fire place and get comfy with a good book or sunbathe by the swimming pool! They have scheduled horse rides through the ranch grounds and you can do several a day depending on the weather and who else is staying there. In the evening, enjoy a hay ride to learn more about their longhorn cattle, make s’mores on their fire pit or head into Bandera to the legendary 11th Street Cowboy Bar! There is nothing touristy about the Stetsons, spurs, belts and buckles! You are in Cowboy Country where everyone looks like they’ve stepped off of the set of a Western! If you’re seen sitting down, you’ll soon be on your feet being taught the two-step!
5. What was your favourite memory from this tour?
That’s hard…I can’t narrow it down to one! Canoeing on the Rio Grande and also Bandera would be up there! South Congress district in Austin is a fun way to spend a lazy lunch and afternoon.
6. Do you have any funny memories of your time in Texas?
Having someone ask if they can look at my legs as they don’t see local women with shaved legs in Terlingua!! That was very memorable and very strange indeed!
7. If you could give three reasons why someone should visit Texas what would they be?
Big Bend National Park, BBQ food and realising how much there is to appreciate in this possibly stereotyped and underrated state.