Texas

Encircle Texas: They say everything is bigger in the Lone Star State and that includes driving distances. From north to south is about 645 miles. Your tour will be a bit shorter, starting in Dallas, heading down to San Antonio and then turning east towards Houston and the Space Center in Webster.

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1 Texas School Book Depository Building Facing Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy’s limousine drove slowly down Elm Street in Dealey Plaza. At 12:30 P.M., an Italian Carcano, bolt-action rifle emerged from the sixth-floor window (upper right corner) of the Texas School Book Depository Building on the left. Shots were fired. The bullets wounded Governor Connally and killed the 35th President of the United States. The photo is taken from the spot of the first impact.

411 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202
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Dallas Fort Worth, Texas Composite of Four Photos

One photo of Dallas is: The 62 story Fountain Place built in 1986. This building was featured in the television show “Dallas.” Three photos of Fort Worth are: The Chisholm Trail Mural of a longhorn cattle drive in Sundance Square painted by Richard Haas in 1985; The Mission Revival façade of the Fort Worth Live Stock Exchange built in 1903; and The Lone Star Flag adopted by the Republic of Texas in 1839.

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2 Convention and Visitors’ Bureau on Main Street in Grapevine, Texas

Sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth is Grapevine, Texas. Despite having part of the nation’s fourth largest airport within its boundaries, it is much quieter than its neighboring cities, particularly along Main Street. Here you can stroll among the historic buildings, small shops, restaurants and antique stores. Consider sampling local wines in tasting rooms. If you need directions, stop into this convention and visitors’ bureau. Then look up at its Glockenspiel Clock Tower. It is fun to watch the two “Would-be Train Robbers” in action.

636 S Main St, Grapevine, TX 76051
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3 Angel on Grand Façade of Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas

The name Bass in Texas is synonymous with oil and billions in net worth. Perry was the father of four sons. All of them share the DNA for risk taking and business success. They are also generous philanthropists, particularly in Fort Worth, Texas. One example is the Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance Hall. This is one of two, 48 foot limestone angels adorning the Grand Façade.

525 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
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4 Chrisholm Trail Longhorn Cattle Drive Mural Near Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas

17 longhorns come thundering to life in this mural at the Fort Worth Stockyards in Texas. The image is a recreation of a 1870s cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail towards Kansas. The three-dimensional painting was created in 1985 by New York artist Richard Haas. It is located at 400 Main Street in Sundance Square. Surrounding it are plenty of attractions appealing to the real and wannabe cowboys and cowgirls.

400 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
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5 George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is located on 90 acres at the Texas A&M University’s west campus in College Station, Texas. The museum contains 120,000 artifacts of the 41st President’s life. The exhibits start with a 1952 home movie of his first steps in Kennebunkport, Maine. You will then learn about his career as a Congressman, U.N. Ambassador and CIA Director. Interesting reproductions include his Oval Office, Camp David office and the White House Press Room.

1000 George Bush Dr W, College Station, TX 77845
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6 Presidential Limo at George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas

The president’s car is often referred to as Limo One. The Secret Service calls it, “The Beast.” The auto is equipped with advance communications, armor plating, defense weapons and a blood bank in the trunk. The typical motorcade includes 45 vehicles. The limo used by George H. W. Bush was a 1989 modified Lincoln Town Car with a Ford F-250 Heavy Duty pickup truck engine. It is on display at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

1000 George Bush Dr W, College Station, TX 77845
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7 Texas State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas

In 1888, the builders of the Texas State Capitol accepted three million acres of land stretching 200 miles along the New Mexico border in lieu of $3 million dollars. Also adhering to the slogan, “Everything’s Bigger in Texas,” this grand building is the nation’s largest capitol. The Italian Renaissance structure has almost 900 windows, 400 rooms and 360,000 square feet of space. The Sunset Red Granite façade gives it a unique and beautiful glow. Texas became the 28th state on December 29, 1845.

1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
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8 Texas State Capitol Senate Chamber in Austin, Texas

The Senate Chamber in the Texas State Capitol has the original furniture and chandeliers from 1888. You can also admire 15 paintings of historical Texans, including Lyndon Johnson. One of the oldest and most significant portraits is of Stephen F. Austin. He was the “Father of Texas” and the namesake for the city of Austin. The artwork hangs behind the Lieutenant Governor’s desk.

1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
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9 LBJ Bas-relief Mural of Lyndon Johnson at Presidential Library in Austin, Texas

This is a bas-relief of Lyndon Baines Johnson as the 36th President. The photo-engraving is one of five, eight-by-ten feet, etched magnesium plates by Naomi Savage at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. This impressive mural in the Great Hall below the library stacks also includes the likeness of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy.

2313 Red River St, Austin, TX 78705
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10 Library Stacks at Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas

If you are a presidential archives researcher, it must be overwhelming to stare at the four floors of the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library. The resource contains about 45 million pages. Inside is a treasure-trove of historical information. You will also find personal insights into the 36th President. Examples include a list of his favorites: dessert (coconut macaroon cookies), food (very spicy deer sausages), beverages (Scotch and Fresca), movie (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and after shave (Old Spice).

2313 Red River St, Austin, TX 78705
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Austin, Texas Composite of Three Photos

Three photos of Austin, Texas are: The silver blue, 33 story Frost Bank Tower built in 2003; A bas-relief mural of Lyndon Johnson; and a 45 million page collection of historical documents at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum.

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11 The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, began as a missionary in 1724 and ended in 1836 as an iconic symbol of courage. During the Texas Revolution, a group of Texians and Tejano Indians won the fort from Mexicans. However, this militia was no match against Santa Anna’s army during a 13 day battle. The fort’s commander, William Travis, wrote in a letter titled Victory of Death: “I shall never surrender or retreat.” Unfortunately, he, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and 200 others were killed. Perhaps that is Travis’ shadowy figure on the right still guarding the Alamo.

300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205
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12 Lion Pride Mural on Goodwill Building near El Mercado in San Antonio, Texas

Prior to 1970, the Lion Drugstore on West Commerce and Santa Rosa in San Antonio displayed a mural known as the “Chapa Lion.” In 2000, the Goodwill commissioned Jesse Treviňo to create the “New Chapa Lion Mural.” The painting includes a pride of lions. They represent the growing community near El Mercado. The people seen lifting the tile image into place represent the Goodwill’s mission, “To help change lives through the power of work.”

406 W Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78207
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13 Texas Longhorn Steer at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas

The large mammals at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio are from all over the world. This family attraction would be remiss if it did not include a herd of Texas longhorns such as this red and white steer. His impressive horns extend up to seven feet. He looks menacing, but these predominately beef cattle have a mild disposition. The Texas longhorn is the state’s official large animal.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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14 American Bison at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas

This male American bison at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio looked dangerous. I believe he is a wood bison because of his tall, square hump. This subspecies is the heaviest and averages up to 2,000 pounds. In the 15th century, it is estimated sixty million buffalo roamed the United States. By 1890, after extensive hunting, that population dropped to 750 animals. Today, only about 15,000 live in the wild.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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15 Damaraland Zebra Close Up at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas

This is a 600 pound Damaraland Zebra in the Kenyan Preserve section of the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas. He loves getting up close and personal. In fact, immediately after this photo, he stuck his head into my car window, tried giving me a kiss and proceeded to slobber on the steering wheel. There is nothing like zebra drool all over your dashboard, car seat and pant leg.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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16 Female Greater Kudu Antelope at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in San Antonio, Texas

This adorable face belongs to a female greater kudu antelope from southeastern Africa. Notice her gray tongue looking for food. If you have dreamt about seeing large, exotic animals like this very close without cages and fences, then go to San Antonio, Texas and drive through the 400 acres of Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. The attraction has over 500 animals. Many of them approach your car window looking for something to eat.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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17 Juvenile Bull Greater Kudu Antelope at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in San Antonio, Texas

The horns on this bull, greater kudu antelope have only twisted about one-and-a-half times. This means the animal is about three or four years old. By the sixth year, those horns will extend to two feet and twist again. He will also grow a large mane on his throat and weigh about 600 pounds. The greater kudu antelopes graze on grass and lives along rocky hills and protected plains in southeastern Africa. If that is too far away, you can see a herd at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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18 Ostrich at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas

Have you ever been greeted by a six foot, female ostrich from Africa? Or maybe other large, flightless birds like the rhea and emu? You can experience this at the 400 acre Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio. This ostrich’s acute eyesight sees your vehicle entering the Massai Savanna section. Then those long, bare legs and two-toe feet can propel her at over 40 m.p.h. These allow her to be the first to arrive at your car window. She expects to be feed a treat that is included in your admission ticket. I photographed this bird sticking her head into the sunroof of a BMW and grabbing a bag of food out of a young boy’s hand.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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19 Reticulated Giraffe at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas

This is my favorite photo of a reticulated giraffe. A large print of this image has hung in my nephew’s bedroom since his birth. He now talks about it frequently to his younger brother. This kind of photo opportunity is available all across the 400 acres of the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas. For nearly thirty years, they have offered a wonderful drive-thru experience to see and feed hundreds of spectacular animals.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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20 Sideways Scarlet Macaw Parrot at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas

The scarlet macaw is one of six parrot species from Central America and northern parts of South America. The bird displays rich, red plumage. The large, white beak is ideally designed for feeding and producing loud squawks when its mouth is not full. It is also a powerful tool for navigation like gripping the side of this cage. This 32 inch, two-pound parrot is in the “Walk-A-Bout” section of the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas.

26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266
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21 St. John Church Steeple and Heritage Plaza Building in Houston, Texas

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the race was on in Houston, Texas, to build numerous skyscrapers. Soon the horizon became the third tallest skyline in the U.S. This construction surge ended in the mid-80s with a recession, a decline in real estate values, an oil industry collapse and the savings and loan crisis. The last major project during the boom was the Heritage Plaza. The high-rise stands 762 foot and has 53 floors. In stark contrast is the modest St. John Church. It was built about one hundred years earlier in 1891. The landmark is located in Sam Houston Park along with other historical buildings. This public greenspace provides a quiet, western view of downtown.

1000 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002
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Houston, Texas Composite of Two Photos

Two photos of Houston, Texas are: The Victorian brick façade with sandstone arched window of the Houston Cotton Exchange Building where 100,000 bales of cotton were traded annually from 1884 until 1924; and The western downtown Houston skyline including the Heritage Plaza in the center and Wells Fargo Bank Plaza behind it.

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22 Apollo 11 Crew as First Men on the Moon at Johnson Space Center in Webster, Texas

With only five months left before John F. Kennedy’s deadline to land a man on the moon, Neil Armstrong declared on July 20, 1969, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Early the next morning, after descending a nine-rung ladder, he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Near the historic MOCR2 (Mission Control Room) at Johnson Space Center in Webster, Texas, is this portrait of the Apollo 11 crew: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

2101 E NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77058
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