A random round-up of interesting things we've seen, tried, learned and experienced on the way from here to there.
Flowers and Caddo Mounds
Last July, we found ourselves in East Texas after a brief, heavy rain. The weather had canceled morning coffee plans with friends, so we had some extra time on hand, and we chose to spend it on a first visit to the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto. While the rain had derailed our plans, it had the benefit of offering a brief cool down, which gave us motivation to linger that July in Texas usually doesn't.
The Caddo Mounds preserve the Mound Builder culture of the Caddo Indians known as the Hasinai, the region's first inhabitants. The Texas Historical Commission says that "The Caddo selected this site for a permanent settlement about A.D. 800." The settlement flourished until the 13th century, when the site was abandoned, however the Hasinai Caddo groups continued to live through the 1830s in the Neches and Angelina River valleys, and eventually moved to the Brazos River area to escape Anglo-American repressive measures and colonization efforts.
The Caddo Mounds State Historic site is immaculately maintained, from its beautiful grounds to its gardens that are preserved and restored to be as close to original as possible through the research and diligence of the site's staff. We loved being there. It didn't feel ancient; it felt timeless.
In 2019, the site was directly impacted by a deadly tornado. When we visited in 2021, there was no sign of it, although we know that scars were there, hidden in the way that trauma can be. Land, like people, is resilient. You plant, you grow - you grieve your losses, you honor what's important, repair and rebuild. We can't even come close to knowing everything that has transpired since the Hasinai Caddo found this land, claimed and cultivated it, much less what came before. But the mounds stand and the grass grows, civilization to civilization. There are bright flowers and green grasses. The rain clears, and they are beautiful.
Aisles of Delight at Alamo Candy
As summer approaches, we are fondly remembering a trip to San Antonio last June, where we spent a happy afternoon wandering the aisles of Alamo Candy Company. From sweet to savory to spicy to all-flavors-in-one, this local, family owned company has produced, packaged and sold Mexican treats -along with some American and other international snacks - since 1991. We were happy with our purchase, which included mango/tamarind El Azteca Cucharita; Beny Locochas Fresa and Tamalito Tamarindo candies! Click here for its online selection, but trust us, its more fun and worth a visit to go in person.
One Great Shot In Lake Whitney
We were in Bosque County, between Meridian and Hillsboro, when we caught this beautiful sunset on the Lake Whitney Dam. It's a passenger side pic - safety first - and captures the cotton candy skies and dam lights beginning to glow in the late winter evening. Our days on the road are long, and this photo represents the last leg of a very busy trip. Stephanie was taking down an art show in Bee Cave, so this particular day took us from Austin to Bee Cave, Lakeway, Lampasas, Hamilton, Cranfills Gap, Meridian and Hillsboro before connecting to I35 and homeward bound.
Here are a few extra notes, sharing things that stand out for planning and inspiring past, recent and future trips.
Our visit to Alamo Candy Company ignited a desire to try more Mexican treats. Luckily, we live in Texas and there are plenty to be found. We've already waxed poetic about Panaderia Athens, and we want to try Austin's Hay Elotes as well as Fruteria Tropical , which is in Plano and closer to home. I'm so excited about the relatively new La'Bonita Michoacana, serving ice cream and other goodies in Lufkin and Nacogdoches - two places where we spend a lot of time. Chicle popsicles! Gansito popsicles! Auguas Frescas, OMG!
We've been thinking lately about public libraries, and how many of them have such striking architecture. In Hillsboro, for example, the Hillsboro City Library has a great side garden to explore - although step lively if you're there in the summer because bees love it, too. The Lampasas Public Library is smaller with more of a mid-mod aesthetic. And the train track-adjacent Grand Saline Public Library at The Old Depot is housed a renovated railroad station with preserved original details, including its freight scale, ceiling and tiles. In addition to being a vital public service, libraries are often great examples of interesting civic facades and historic preservation.
We'll soon be in Lufkin and Nacogdoches for a quick visit (and a Gansito popsicle, if we're lucky). That's followed by a trip to Kilgore where Stephanie is a featured speaker at Kilgore Geekend! Later in May, we will travel to the Houston area, with a mostly new-to-us itinerary which so far includes Huntsville, Spring and Navasota.
Field Notes is a weekly post from K.Co Press that highlights some of the places, views and experiences from our travels that have been on our minds lately. Published and posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram each Sunday or add your name to our email list for future subscription delivery.
K.Co Press publishes guides and books that celebrate the places in-between. Our debut release "Ten Texas Towns and Places In-Between, Field Notes from the Back Roads," publishes this spring. Get in touch at email@example.com.