Travel Log, Vol. I

HWR Travel Log, Vol. I

Although traveling and exploring Texas has been my life-long pursuit, I begin earnestly to do it in 1973, just after buying my first automobile. Still at UT studying radio-TV-film and living just off campus, I could walk to class, but on weekends drove my car. The Dodge Dart Sport Convertriple was so designated because it was three vehicles in one: a regular five-person sedan with a sunroof like a convertible and a fold-down back seat and openable trunk that made it a cargo carrier. For its blue color, I named it Humphrey Blowdart.

Desiring to keep a record of areas visited, I bought from the Co-op a small spiral-bound notebook, which became the first volume of my travel log. Its price tag testifies to the march of time. Not yet possessing a clever nickname, I was just HWR in those days, so that was the journal’s heading. The subtitle: “consisting of notes, observations, facts, stops, and distances of trips taken between March 8, 1974, and June 18, 1977.” The format was columns headed by Date, Mileage, Place, Route, and Time, with a new entry for each halt or road change. In the beginning, Humphrey showed a mere 8,246 miles on the odometer; the last notation in Volume I was 53,071.

Inside the log’s front cover is taped a list of official national CB 10-codes, a vivid reminder of the “breaker one-nine” fad. On the second leaf is a three-year calendar clipped from an almanac for ‘74 through ‘76. On the back pages and scattered here and there are budgets, calculations, and random scribblings, including the draft of a letter to a judge after I was awarded a speeding ticket.

Lots happened between those trips. I moved from the center city to the southeast part of Austin, finished my first degree, built my first yurt, began working in the Capitol, lived at scenic Rancho Richey (before it was a refuge), attended a Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic, began my broadcasting career in Fredericksburg, worked at the UT ID card center, went nuts over CB radio as the “Earth Brother,” bestowed on myself a catchy title, moved to Uvalde to work in commercial radio, moved back to my beloved Austin, took several geography courses, and slacked in scads.

All this information forms the basis of my upcoming memoir/guide to Texas travel. The log and its subsequent three volumes literally tell my life’s journey, just as the Party Pages relate my history as a series of celebrations. Both convey the joy one guy feels while doing what he loves.

How would you write you autobiography?

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Texas Scenic Regions Map

Mother Nature’s Self-Portrait

Texans are blessed with lots of scenery. Because of our position smack dab in the middle of North America, we enjoy proximity to an amazing variety of landscapes and climates. One way to get a handle on such diversity is to draw a picture. This I did in 1982, and here’s the story behind the map.

Each of the state’s dozen geographic zones claims its own characteristics and personality. The map shows each region’s general boundaries plus elements that make it distinctive: moisture, temperature, vegetation, geology, and soils. Some, such as the Piney Woods, Cross Timbers, and Post Oak Belt, acquired their names from the plants dominant there. Plains and prairies make up half of the regions—no surprise. One recalls a human name. The Trans-Pecos and Rio Grande Plains cozy up to important rivers. I purposefully deemphasized cities to draw more attention to the countryside. Each area will get its own well-deserved chapter in the book I’m writing.

It’s always a cause for celebration to trend from one territory to another, watching the indicators change. In some places, such as between the Edwards and the Llano, the shift is immediate. Others are more gradual, happening over several miles.

For folks to appreciate the Lone Star State’s variation, I give this map to every client who takes a tour or attends a class. It and others like it are useful for planning travel or study anywhere in Texas.

What’s your favorite part of Texas?