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From the Pen of Carter Smith

It was one of those scenes right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Friends and neighbors gathered together for one of those blessed afternoons of fellowship, food and spirits. Sounds of laughing and playing kids permeated the air. So, too, did smells of burgers and brats, grilled over a mess of simmering coals, manned by a cluster of dads vying for control of the spatula and the tongs.

As the neighborhood posse played to their heart’s content, one of the younger boys got off by himself and commandeered a fine little stick horse with a bright red set of reins. We watched in amusement as he galloped around the backyard with a fierce sense of purpose, exploring some exotic place and imaginary world known to him and to him only.

At some point, the youngster steered the wooden steed over our way, where he breathlessly told his father about the grand ride he had been on. He had a lot to tell. There had been expansive deserts to cross and mighty mountains to scale, ferocious wolves and bears to slay and treacherous rivers to traverse. With great emphasis, he heralded the bandits he had slain and the hidden treasures he had unearthed.

With obvious bemusement, the father of the young lad remarked about what a grand adventure the boy had been on. With the certainty and alacrity that only a 4-year-old can muster, the boy didn’t miss a beat, telling his father in no uncertain terms, “I’m not on an adventure, Dad. I’m on a donkey,” and promptly galloped away for the next leg of his big journey.

While it is safe to say that the metaphorical donkey ride will likely not make this year’s series of epic Texas challenges featured in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, the spirit of such undoubtedly will. Texas, as we all know well, is not only a sense of mind, but also a grand and diverse place teeming with adventures of all kinds, in all settings, for all ages.

Our first installment in the series features the fabled and sacred Hueco Tanks of West Texas, and the legendary climbing found amidst the state park and historic site’s jumble of ancient boulders and rocks. Climbers from all over the world know the site as one of the world’s great places to test the depth and bounds of one’s agility, dexterity, strength and stamina.

For those who suffer from bouts, big or small, of acrophobia and/or lack the climbing prowess of a mountain goat, don’t be deterred. Subsequent adventure features will undoubtedly capture other opportunities on foot or on kayak; with rod or gun; and in the woods or on the water.

Jack Kerouac famously admonished us to “live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” I hope you will heed his savvy counsel and join us in remembering that when it comes to the great Texas outdoors, whatever adventure you are seeking is out there waiting for you.

And, with nearly 200,000 miles of rivers and streams; 150 million acres of habitats; 367 miles of coastline; 11 different ecoregions; 95 state parks and historic sites; 49 wildlife management areas; 16 national parks; five national forests and grasslands; plus a bevy of other places to go, see and do, adventures abound and await all around you.

Thanks for caring about our wild things and wild places. They need you now more than ever.


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