Editor’s Letter: The Travel Issue

As a magazine devoted to all things Austin, we’re excited to share our first-ever travel issue, featuring some of the great places just outside of our regular beat.

We drove Highway 290 toward Fredericksburg and sampled worldclass wineries. We spent a night at Camp Comfort, an old German bowling alley converted into a charming B&B. And we went to the geographic center of the state to explore life in small towns like Brady, Eden, and Llano. As photographer Matthew Johnson notes in his photo essay, “Heart of Texas,” some of the best trips aren’t to the most popular destinations; they’re to the places that don’t make the glossy travel brochures or have shops stocked with t-shirts and magnets. I think he’s onto something.

As a traveler, I love exploring places that don’t cater to me or any other tourist—I like the perspective that comes from glimpsing another way of life. This past year I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a number of weekends visiting friends who live on a ranch in Medina. While it should take just over two hours to get there, it typically takes me three or four. Let’s just say I favor the scenic route. I like to stop at the general stores, pick up the local paper, and meet the people who make these Hill Country towns their home.

On one of those trips I was intrigued by a story I read in the Bandera County Courier—an interview with Bandera’s only taxi driver. He shared a story that can only happen in small town Texas: the day he spent exploring his hometown with a visitor from China who spoke no English. After a phone call to American Airlines, the taxi driver was on the phone with a translator who helped him figure out where this man wanted to go: a dude ranch and a Mexican restaurant where he ordered one of everything, plus a margarita. It’s a beautiful story of the sort of hospitality Texas is known for, and of the profound impact that traveling (and travelers!) can have on our lives; the Chinese tourist probably went home with fond memories of the warm welcome he experienced and the taxi driver is still talking about it years later.

While big cities and well-known tourist spots often attract the most visitors, I believe that the small, lesser-known places often have something far more special and authentic to offer. Such is the case with this issue’s single sojourn out of Texas, to an island off the coast of Colombia called Santa Cruz del Islote. Built entirely on a coral reef smaller than The University of Texas at Austin baseball field, it is thought to be the world’s most densely populated island. To find a place to stay, you first have to find a guy called Freddy—but it’s worth it.

I hope you enjoy our travel issue—and if you find yourself inspired to wander, may the road rise up to meet you and the wind be ever at your back.

Read the issue.