It's Texas Independence Day. That's right, Texas' 180th birthday. What did you get her? Aw, you haven't done any shopping yet? OK. You can join in on my gift: 180 things we love about Texas.
It was hard to narrow down the list of things to love to 180. I mean, I once rode from San Angelo to Terlingua in a van full of armadillos driven by a guy named Jalapeno Sam. And I've eaten barbecue from Silsbee to El Paso. And I once was in Eden and Utopia on the same day. Heck, that picture up there? That wasn't even staged. My garage looks like that all the time. I just added the candles. (OK, that's not true. But my wife wouldn't argue.) I'm a pretty "Texas" feller.
Thankfully, my coworkers and Facebook friends pitched in and we brought you the 180 most Texas things ever we love about Texas. Please, take your hat off, ease on back and enjoy.
Happy Texas Independence Day.
HERE'S OUR TOP TEN
1. Willie Nelson.
2. Real barbecue. Spelled with a “c,” of course, because the c stands for “cow.”
3. Wide open spaces and lonely roads.
4. Big skies. I'm a bigger fan of majestic than menacing.
5. An awesome diversity of people (which leads to an awesome diversity of food, music and culture).
6. Bluebonnets! Bluebonnets everywhere!
7. Tacos from Austin. (Ha! We’re just kidding. We’ll take a taco from anywheres south of Oklahoma.)
8. Shiner Beer. The only Texas beer you could buy before Prohibition that’s still made at its original brewery.
9. That spot on Highway 87 east of Eden (really) where West Texas just kinda appears.
10. Queso. How could we almost forget queso?
11. C.B “Stubb” Stubblefield.
12. And the original “Stubb’s” in Lubbock. Because it was awesome. And the barbecue sauce didn’t have to sue the restaurant. Sheesh.
13. Tom Landry.
14. Townes Van Zandt.
15. Janis Joplin. Just a bit ahead of her time.
16. And Kenneth Threadgill, too.
17. Hondo Crouch.
18. And Luckenbach, too. (It's not dead, just seemed like a good spot to mention it.)
19. And that Jerry Jeff Walker song about Charlie Dunn, while we're traipsing about that era.
20. Darrell K. Royal. For you Longhorns out there.
21. Buddy Holly.
22. Stevie Ray Vaughan.
24. Watching a high school football game at House Park Stadium in Austin.
25. High school football in small towns, too.
26. Heck, really just football in general.
27. The authentic honky-tonks mixed in with the tourist spots in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
28. Every other authentic honky-tonk. Go to one before they're gone!
29. Especially Ginny's Little Longhorn and their peculiar bingo game.
30. Playing dominoes with old men.
31. Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic.
33. Aggies. You may or may not like 'em, but they are Texan somewhere between Texas Rangers (the one riot kind) and rodeo riders.
34. The best Renaissance Fair in the country.
35. Watching the Rangers play in Globe Life Park.
36. Go Spurs Go!
37. Texas formal/casual dress codes (aka boots).
38. The Cap 10k, the largest 10k in Texas.
39. Running around Austin's Lady Bird Lake. Or, if you're not that athletic, walking around slowly and people-watching.
40. H-E-B. They may not always have my heart. But they always have my money.
41. Wimberley Trade Days. When it comes to antiques and old stuff, I ain't much of a buyer, but I’m a pretty fair hunter.
42. Texas pride.
43. Cowboys. Real cowboys.
44. Cowboy hats for everybody! Even fake cowboys!
45. The Texas flag. C'mon. It beats the heck out every other state flag.
46. Heck we had six flags. And still have Six Flags.
47. Old barns.
48. Ridiculously oversized ranches.
49. Texas-shaped everything. Would you buy a waffle shaped like Delaware? No! Or maybe you do. I don't know what Delaware looks like ...
50. Interesting history. We remember the hell out of the Alamo.
51. "Don't Mess With Texas."
52. Saying "Fixin' to" and "ain't" and "howdy" and any number of Texan sayings and phrases.
53. Like "crazier than a damn road lizard."
54. Earl Campbell. Who doesn't love Earl Campbell?
55. Chuck Norris. If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear? Yes. Chuck Norris hears it. Chuck Norris can hear everything. Chuck Norris can hear the shrieking terror in your soul.
56. Tommy Lee Jones. Are you going to tell him different?
57. Having friends who come from such different places, even though we’re all from the same state.
58. Polite gentlemen. Or at least those who "can't stand rude behavior in a man."
59. Friendly strangers. Even when they don't think you're packing a pistol.
60. Women with big hair. They're still around.
61. Robert Rauschenberg. C'mon get you culture on.
62. Robert Rodriguez.
63. Farrah Fawcett.
64. Judge Roy Bean. Law and order, Texas-style.
65. Bonnie and Clyde. Outlaws, Texas-style.
66. Nolan Ryan teaching Robin Ventura a little respect for his elders. Possibly the most Texan thing that has ever actually happened.
67. The Willow City Loop.
68. Driving from Kerrville to Medina in the Hill Country.
69. Fishing the Laguna Madre in South Texas.
70. Barton Springs.
71. And Hamilton Pool.
72. And Balmorhea State Park. Especially Balmorhea State Park.
73. The Window at Big Bend National Park.
74. Boquillas del Carmen, across that little river from Big Bend. OK, it’s not technically “Texas” but Robert Earl Keen’s song “Gringo Honeymoon” is — just to cover my bases.
75. Sitting in the surf at High Island and watching the mullet jump. Who needs Caribbean breezes?
76. Buying fresh Gulf shrimp from the docks.
78. Dickens on the Strand while we’re at it.
79. Staying at Indian Lodge at Fort Davis State Park, and hiking the Indian Lodge Trail.
80. Hiking to the top of the tallest peak in Texas, Guadalupe Peak.
81. Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.
82. Tubing the Comal River. Or the Horseshoe Loop on the Guadalupe.
83. Being able to see a whole other country across the border when you drive through El Paso.
84. Staying at the haunted Von Minden Hotel in Schulenburg
85. Buc-ee’s gas stations and spending a meal's worth of money on snacks.
86. Farm-to-Market roads where the pickups that pass you all give a friendly wave.
87. Old dancehalls: Gruene Hall, Sengelmann Hall.
88. The Painted Churches of old German/Czech settlers.
89. The 85 mph speed limit – fastest in the U.S.
90. The Sun Bowl in El Paso.
91. And Rosa's Cantina, too. "Out in the West Texas town of El Paso ..." Yes. It's a real place. And it's awesome.
92. The Texas Capitol. That's one damn fine piece of architecture, regardless of what one might think of the activities that occur inside.
93. Any number of beautiful county courthouses, too.
94. Big Tex at the State Fair.
95. The Marfa lights.
96. Or if you're feeling high-falutin': Prada Marfa and El Cosmico.
97. The Riverwalk. Aw, c'mon. Don't be a snob. It's a good time!
98. Hiking up Enchanted Rock.
99. The Luling Watermelon Thump.
100. And the Brady Goat Cookoff.
101. The Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg.
102. The Terlingua Chili Cookoff. Both of 'em.
GEOGRAPHY & CRITTERS
103. Armadillos. Preferably alive, or at least drawn by Jim Franklin.
104. Seeing the landscape change when driving the 8 hours from Austin to El Paso.
105. How the desert smells when it rains.
106. Horny Toads. Just how cool they are. Not how they smell.
107. Clay Henry, the beer-drinking goat / mayor of Lajitas.
108. You can see forests, swamps, beaches, hills, desert, plains and mountains all without ever leaving the state.
109. The stars at night ...
110. Extremes in weather. Sometimes in the same day.
111. Almost everything about the Hill Country, except how much everyone else loves it, too.
112. Billy Joe Shaver.
113. That Billy Joe Shaver can rhyme “fame” with “thang” and it’s totally honest.
114. ZZ Top.
115. George Strait (whom I have to mention or half a million San Antonio women will hunt me down).
116. Lyle Lovett.
119. The 13th Floor Elevators.
120. The roots of Dirty South hip hop, UGK.
121. DJ Screw. 'Cause there's nothing more Texan then inventing your own style of music.
122. That little guitar solo in Ray Wylie Hubbard's "All Loose Things."
123. Lightnin' Hopkins.
124. Terry Allen's "Lubbock on Everything."
125. Whatever it was in Lubbock that caused it to erupt musicians all over the state.
126. Waylon Jennings' "Lonesome On'ry and Mean."
127. Van Cliburn. Honestly, I don't know much about classical music, but he's on every one of these sort of lists. Who am I to leave off the boss?
128. Going to "Austin City Limits" tapings.
129. Trigger. I'd say it should go to the Smithsonian, but Willie's going to live forever, right?
BARBECUE & BEER & OTHER COMESTIBLES
130. Do we have to include it? OK, Franklin Barbecue. I’m not sure a grown man should stand in line 3 hours for lunch, but it’s awfully good.
131. Have I mentioned enough barbecue? Big fan of Cooper’s in Llano.
132. Did you know you can still buy Pearl beer? It’s owned in California and only produced in cans at a corporate brewery in Fort Worth, but you can drink the same beer (in name only, I'm sure) that they drank in San Antonio in the 1890s.
133. Migas. For those who don’t care to pick a side in the taco wars.
134. Czech Stop in West
135. Kolaches anywhere, really.
136. Oyster Fest in Rockport.
137. Sartin’s Seafood in Beaumont.
138. Snoopy’s Pier in Corpus.
140. The Texas Chili Parlor.
141. The gatefold illustration in ZZ Top’s “Tres Hombres” album. That's what Tex-Mex should look like.
142. Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth.
143. Eating crawfish along the coast. I mean, at restaurants, not just off the ground. C'mon guys.
144. Whataburger. Duh.
145. Margaritas and Tex-Mex at the original Chuy's.
146. Real Ale Brewing.
147. Chamoy snow cones.
148. Lone Star longnecks. Even if they say "Since 1845" on the label. Lone Star isn't that old. And if they're talking about Texas, it should say "Since 1836." I'm blaming non-Texan marketers.
149. King's Inn on the Baffin Bay.
150. La Fogata in San Antonio.
151. Lydia's Homestyle Cooking in Kingsville.
152. Paco's Place in San Angelo.
153. L&J Cafe in El Paso.
154. Chicken-fried steak.
155. Chicken-fried chicken
156. Fried damn near anything at the State Fair.
157. Fredericksburg peaches.
158. Dublin Dr Pepper.
159. Julio's Chips. The bomb.
160. I'm not sure how we got this far without mentioning Blue Bell ice cream.
161. “Lonesome Dove.” Book, mini-series, both.
162. That part of “Lonesome Dove” that ends with Gus protesting that “it ain’t much of crime whacking a surly bartender."
163. “Goodbye to a River” by John Graves.
164. We know who shot J.R. Ewing. Or at least who J.R. was. Or at least that there was a show called "Dallas" back when you stood in front of the TV and changed the channels for dad.
165. Kinky Friedman's mystery novels.
166. Jan Reid's "The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock."
167. Memories of watching Marvin Zindler's restaurant report on TV with grandma: "There was SLIME in the ice machine!"
168. And, in a related note, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."
170. "Barbarosa." Or "The Red-Headed Stranger." We always said Willie was a good actor when he was playing himself. But he makes a pretty fair cowboy, too.
171. And "The Last Picture Show."
172. The Alamo Drafthouse. Movies were meant to be seen this way.
173. "Texas Country Reporter." Love that show.
174. Can't possibly leave off "Urban Cowboy." Anything that involves mechanical bulls ain't all bad.
175. "Friday Night Lights." The book by H.G. Bissinger.
176. The photographs of Keith Carter.
177. The cartoons of Tex Avery.
178. Mike Judge and "King of the Hill."
179. And "Office Space," of course.
180. And anything by Elmer Kelton.
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