The thread about the Amarillo restaurant made me curious about Texas's smaller cities. Does anyone have any first-hand experience?
Yes, someone does have first hand experience.
Beaumont is a great Texas city. Just far enough from Houston, but close enough.
It would be more enjoyable to go to hell
I grew up in east TX near the Shreveport, Louisiana border. Our town was straight out of Steel Magnolias in some ways and also very redneck, good-old-boy (my closeted brother is a county judge, for example), deep-woods scary at times.
Weather-wise, very hot summers and mild easy winters most of the time. I'm in NH and quite homesick for Texas, warts and all.
The Hill Country is divine.
Marfa and Big Bend are brilliant.
But Beaumont is appalling. R2 is The Beaumont Troll.
There is currently a massive migration from California to Texas. I'm wondering what effect this will have on voting patterns - are these Californians right-wingers moving to Texas because it's red or will they be turned off by the Repub idiots in power.
It'll be interesting to see what happens in the next elections.
The Valley (the Rio Grande Valley) is all Hispanic and poor but beautiful. In Texas from San Antonio down, it's Mexico basically.
The Hill Country is beautiful (Austin to San Antonio) and the fastest growing area in all the U.S. (I think). Politics have always been liberal though with all the migration, the future remains unclear politically.
East Texas is the Deep South - to be avoided. Same with the Panhandle (Amarillo, etc.).
The coastline ain't Florida - no white sandy beaches and Caribbean transparent water - all the hotels dispense "Tar Off" along with free soap in the bathroom.
R8 gave an accurate description. Texas is so big that the regions differ.
San Augustine is pleasant in an Old South way.
Tyler has its roses but is otherwise nasty.
Jefferson is for the bed and breakfast crowd from Dallas
Washington on the Brazos is a pleasant enough livig history complex.
Any places where a painter/graphic artist could live in an old house or something, to escape LA? Marfa?
OP, San Antonio is not a "small city" and should have been included in your list.
Lots of white sandy beaches, but with rattlensakes and tar.
Marfa would be a hell of an escape. It's literally in the middle of nowhere
R12 - Marfa is exactly what you're talking about. It's a community of artists, and there are excellent restaurants, events, etc. It's definitely a tiny little town, so prepare to have everyone know you.
We own a place in a town about thirty miles away, and we go there every month or so. The mountains are majestic, and the people are the opposite of the Texas stereotype.
Avoid East Texas like the plague. They're still 20 years behind, at least. The Hill Country has a lot of charming towns and people, but can be a mixed bag. D/FW . . . just don't. Austin is losing its charm as it grows too quickly.
The Big Bend area is the undiscovered jewel.
Yes, Marfa R12. Very affordable housing and a great art scene. The solitude can drive you a little stir crazy though.
Falls County which is SSE of Dallas is nice. Marlin is the county seat. My grandparents' old homestead and farm was outside of Lott.
Doesn't Terence Malick live in Marfa?
I'm looking for talented freaks with drive, not embalmed, trust funded, milennial Silver Lake, CA "creativity"
What is Huntsville like?
It's a prison town.
Terence Malick lives in Austin, in pricey Westlake Hills to be precise.
Fredericksburg is nice. Most of Texas is trashy, even the touristy parts.
is old paso a pit? my brothers fiancee is from there and will probably hold their wedding there.
a place to linger or bail out of quick?
Bail out quickly, r25.
Funny question, OP. There are nearly 27 million people living in Texas (second only to California and way more than New York), and most of those people have stepped outside of Dallas, Austin, and Houston before.
So the answer to your question? Yes, multiple times.
I'm not R29, by the way. That's just a New Yorker trolling.
It's just very hot.
I have a question for those of you living in Austin. Are the Californians moving there mostly Republican? Are they moving to Austin to escape the high CA taxes?
The irony is that they're all building big, expensive homes in Austin, which carry huge property tax bills, as Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the nation. They brag about no state income tax in Texas, but the sky high property taxes negate that.
I lived in Dallas for years and loved it. I also lived in East Texas for a couple of years, and it is hell on earth. People there have that horrible combination of self-righteous Christian fundamentalism, along with blatant racism and right-wing lunacy.
When people from out of state think of Texas, that's always the stereotypical backasswards Texas they think of. The cities, thank God, are not like that.
I spent a year for work travelling to visit clients in various Texas cities including the many remote ones. While I spent the majority of the time in Houston and Dallas, I also spent periods of several days to weeks in smaller cities (Austin, Fort Worth [which is west of Dallas and part of the DFW metroplex], Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland/Odessa and El Paso). I spent time in San Antonio, which has a population larger than Dallas now, for recreation rather than for business. I have an appreciation for aspects of Texas and its people. It is not the Republic, conservative, fundie monolith that is often portrayed in DL. It is, in fact, quite varied in geography, politics, people and its cultures. I'll give my impressions, although it may take more than one post to do so.
To echo other posters, avoid everything east of I-45 between Houston and Dallas which is often just referred to as East Texas and includes the Piney Woods. Despite that name, it's not pretty. It's more swampy and dark. East Texas is the most "Southern" and backwards part of Texas in its culture.
Also avoid everything west of I-35 between Austin and Fort Worth until Fort Stockton. That area is a flat, featureless wasteland punctuated by oil derricks and cattle. Abilene is a non-entity. Midland and Odessa are small, dull oil towns next to each other(one for executives, the other for workers) and which reek of the pervasive smell of oil for miles around. High school football, followed by Christianity, are the religions there. Amarillo is a rough town that is well reflected in the Italian restaurant thread. Lubbock, which the Italian restaurant thread makes seem like a relative cultural mecca, is no such thing. It's just a bigger Amarillo with a mall. It has aspects of a college town (Texas Tech is there) but as for anything to see or do, it's quite limited (football and drinking are pretty much it).
Around Fort Stockton, the scenery changes from flat to mountainous, really the only mountainous part of Texas. It is quite beautiful and surprisingly interesting. Southwest of Fort Stockton (which is basically a place to refuel), are Marfa, the Davis Mountains and astronomical observatory and Big Bend National Park. This is a highly underrated and under-visited part of not only Texas but also the nation, and the residents are probably glad about that. More about this area in my next post.
Austin's property taxes are sky-high. I'm guessing the Californians moved here (judging by conversations with ex-Californian neighbors) because in Austin you can buy a luxurious house for $700K that would cost you $2 million in California. So they're cheapskates, but are they Republicans? I think they're fiscal conservatives but not social conservatives and are liable to be turned off big-time by right-wing Bible thumpers (not that Austin is that friendly to right-wingers).
Austin is absolutely full of immigrants from India and Bangladesh, invading all the high-tech industries here. I guess most of them aren't citizens and can't vote, but worry they might turn out to be Republicans if they did.
Austin-Bergstrom airport is getting a direct flight to Heathrow on British Airways next year, to supplement the existing routes already serving IAH and DFW. Austin has arrived, in a sense.
Another native Texan here. R35's post is very insightful, and almost entirely correct. The only minor change to it that I would make is that Midland and Odessa are actually in the throes of some major changes - oil production is booming again, after a 20-year lull. Lots of unusual people, a veritable Venn diagram of interesting and unsavory, are moving to those two cities to take advantage of the employment opportunities. Midland and Odessa were profoundly changed by the oil boom of the 70's and 80's, so I can only imagine how they'll emerge from this recent oil boom.
I know all this because one entire branch of my family lives in the Permian Basin. I get breathless updates all the time on how it's evolving.
The drive on I-10 between El Paso/Juárez and Fort Stockton is mesmerizingly beautiful. The border is just to your south for much of that stretch, with the mountains in Chihuahua just beyond the river (and all the little towns that we know are unfortunately living under narcoterror).
Then between Fort Stockton and San Antonio: seemingly endless nothingness. East of San Antonio are the heavily German and Czech towns that are fast becoming exurbs of Houston.
East of Houston to the Louisiana state line and beyond is the swampy petrochemical miasma.
I hasten to add that Texas itself is in the midst of a beautiful cultural revolution. The cities are liberalizing very quickly - and have been palpably for the past 10-15 years - and even the smaller cities are changing in curious ways. The state is more cosmopolitan and progressive with every growing year, and according to some demographic experts, will become one of the main focal points of the United States in the coming decades. As New York continues to decline, Texas rises to take its place.
Here is a list of quaint Hill Country towns. Full of antique shops, wineries, artisans and craftsmen and little eateries. The Wimberley Glassworks has amazing glass. Check out their website if you want.
Gruene Hall has some great music and was used for the film "Michael". It was used for the dance scene between John Travolta and the two girls.
A lot of tubing in the area. The rivers are crystal clear.
Texas is also making some very fine wines these days. Messina Hoff makes very good wine and it's worth a drive out to Bryan, TX. It's been served at the White House dinners.
It is weird that Texas stays so red. The mayors of Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are all Democrats. The mayor of Houston (4th largest U.S. city) is an out lesbian. All four of those cities voted for Obama, as did El Paso. Only big town in Texas that didn't vote for Obama was Fort Worth, Wendy Davis' hometown.
It isn't weird; it's called re-districting, and it's what is going to keep Tx red and gun nut/environment destruction-friendly for a long time.
I am not a NY troll, either. I'm a native of just outside of the Metroplex. I see what a shit hole it really is because I have all my life been privy to the conversations that happen behind the backs of you transplants/tourists who are wearing rose-colored glasses.
The only positive things the place has going for it are Palio's pizza, which is surprisingly good for a chain, and the Twilite Lounge in Dallas, which has a good vibe and better jukebox.
It's only a 'shithole' to you, R46. Maybe you've been hanging around the wrong kind of people - I grew up in Texas, and I loved it. Surround yourself with like minds, and you'll be happier. There are enough progressives and moderates in Texas to make any sane person content. Only the local gerrymandering keeps us down.
Did you grow up around white people, R46? I'm Hispanic, so maybe that had something to do with it - most of us are Democrats, and only the growing Central American community is fervently religious. I always felt surrounded by loving and accepting people growing up.
Austin, Dallas and Houston are very open to gays. You cannot go anywhere in those cities without seeing gays everywhere you look.
[quote]The mayors of Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are all Democrats.
And NYC has elected Republican mayors for the past 20 years. Go figure.
The mayor of Dallas is a Republican.
The Mayor of Dallas is Mike Rawlings, a Democrat.
The sheriff of Dallas County is an out lesbian
Rawlings is a Republican.
Texas is a dump. Everything in it worthwhile has been forced on it by the United States because the USA is more liberal.
Wow, Dallas doesn't even know if their mayor is Rep or Dem?
FWIW, Wikipedia states Rawlings is a Democrat.
R55 is butthurt because New York is over.
Nonsense R58. You like their highways? Federally funded and imposed on a state which never would have had them. You like sewers and running water, again imposed on the state. You like pollution controls? You like easy credit for the middle class, living wages paid to workers? All imposed on Texas from the outside.
Left to their own devices, they would be El Salvador or Guatemala with white people.
Well, at least we can use commas correctly, R59. P.S.: Your rage is showing.
95% of Dems in office in TX are still conservative. R, D, and Ind. mean nothing.
Nonwhite students now outnumber white students in Texas schools. That tells you all you need to know about Texas' political future.
The reason it's taking FOREVER for Texas to turn purple is because Texas Hispanics have the worst voting record in the country.
[quote]You like sewers and running water, again imposed on the state.
WTF are you talking about?
We in Turtle Creek don't internalize the notion we are in Dallas, so will my observations help?
Well, unfortunately, no matter where you go in Texas there are Texans there. And that is just terrible.
Yeah, I am sure you're quite content under the Tx Republican regime r47. Uh huh. You'll be just tickled pink when you see what happens during the next election now that voting rights have been 86'd! Do you love the castle doctrine in Tx as much as you admire it in Florida? Are you super impressed at Texas' record on reproductive health? Think NC was the first to that transvaginal ultrasound idea? Think again. Oh I bet it was Perry signing that Merry Christmas bill in June that has you giggling with delight at how amaaazing Texas is.
R48 yes, most of north central Texas outside of the big cities is/was white. That is where I grew up.
A trip along the coast from Padre Island and onto the west end of Galveston Island. Continue your swamp wander east into the bayou country that runs into Louisiana. Eat the shrimp, eat the crab. Wash your car it will be salty. Avoid Houston. Galveston is seedy to some but is my cup of tea.
Galveston has quite an active gay scene these days.
in love Galveston casadel mar
In 1940 a majority of homes in Texas had no running water. Dams and reservoirs created by the feds. In 1930 they had no electricity (rural electrification carried out by the feds).
Most Texans were not part of the modern world until a good fifty years after say, Tokyo or Djakarta.
R33 I know a whole contigent of late 20 something/early 30 somethings from CA's Central Valley who relocated to Texas. They are both fiscally and socially conservative, aka they could never make it in the Bay Area.
If you hate it so much, R65, then either help to make a difference or move. White people are so whiny.
They can be charming, kind and so laid back. You have to be the sort of person who can take his gay off for awhile without letting gaymanity down.
r47 If I were you, I'd hope that no one comes along to talk about the excessive drain on resources many Mexican immigrants are.
Drain on ressources? All the gardeners are illegal. All the cleaning ladies are illegal. All the nannies are illegal. All the fast-food workers are illegal. If it weren't for the illegal Mexican workers, nothing here in Texas would work and the place would be a pig-sty.
Well, I'm not a Mexican immigrant, R73. Don't worry - my ancestors were in Texas before yours.
They are a drain on resources if they send back cash payments to Mexico as most of them do. It reduces the money multiplier in their communities.
I wouldn't want to live outside of either Houston, Austin or the metroplex, but the land of Matthew Mac- Tyler, is kind of a pretty area.
Well, Wendy Davis is running for governor. And if she is as successful as she has been so far, she'll win.
I am thinking about retiring to the McAllen/Edinburg area in the Rio Grande Valley I speak no Spanish I understand that the summers are brutal and the region has a lot of crime.
Am I correct in my assumptions? Is it worth retiring to the the Rio Grande Valley?
Just curious ...
The RGV is beautiful. Lowest crime rates in the state. I moved here 7 years ago from Houston and have never looked back. Winters are like summer, and the summers are hot but you get used to it. Food is the best and everything is cheap. Shopping is first rate in the nation with all the NAFTA trade on the border and the number mall in sales in the nation. Snow birds or winter texans have been coming down here for fifty years and they love it. McAllen will be getting an IMAX theatre this winter and to reiterate the food is too good to be true. Everyone speaks a mix of Spanglish and everyone is super nice with southern manners and catholic upbringing. Don't believe the stereotypes on crime. I'm sure there are sources on local crime.