When I moved to Texas, the cover of a Texas Monthly magazine caught my eye at the grocery store, and as soon as I opened it to the first page, I was hooked. The writing is extraordinarily good in a way that makes me want to be a better writer. Skip Hollandsworth, an award-winning journalist on staff, writes feature stories so rich with detail that I am always a little sad when I'm finished reading them.
Back in May at a Texas Auto Writers Association event, I met the new Texas Monthly editor in chief, Tim Taliaferro. I liked him immediately; he exudes a warmth and deep intelligence when he speaks. And when speaking in front of a crowd, I discovered, Tim's vocabulary is as rich as the words on the pages of his magazine. One of the best things in life is to listen to an intelligent person use the English language to its fullest. The words themselves are like tiny poems, each.
The longer I'm in Austin, the more I discover that this is a small town in a small world, and everyone is connected. As it turns out, Tim was a classmate of a friend of mine, and he invited both of us to attend the Edge of Texas, a new event his magazine was hosting in Dallas. With a lineup that included Jack Ingram and Mark Cuban, I didn't want to miss it. Susan and I made plans to make the trip up to Dallas with another mutual friend, Mary Beth, and DriveShop loaned me a Mazda CX-5 for the three-hour ride.
I was excited to see Mark Cuban, because my son used to bring home a new sports book every week from the library, and the one about the Mavericks and their rise to the championship after Cuban bought the team was fascinating. Hollandsworth interviewed him with a wry, straight-man approach that was paired perfectly with Mark Cuban's uber-confident approach. Will Cuban run for President in 2020? No one knows. But he sure talked about policy quite a bit.
Next on the schedule was Jack Ingram, appearing with four young songwriters he has been mentoring through the organization he helped to found, Texas Songwriter U. Just having the chance to see Jack Ingram live was a treat.
All four songwriters were stunningly good, but Susan, Mary Beth, and I each had our favorites. Mine was Mignon Grabois, a native Texan who has been performing since she was a little girl, and has already shared a stage with Brad Paisley and Chris Young. Check her out, because she is a rising star.
The evening after the event, Texas Monthly hosted a party at the Longhorn Ballroom, which is an iconic country and western dance hall near the convention center in Dallas. Several of the top chefs in Texas provided small bites for the crowd, and the lines were long. Once they depleted a little, I jumped in to wait for the sweet potato-stuffed crepes from Austin-based Launderette, and may or may not have eaten 4 of them. Maybe.
I drove our replete, happy group back to Austin in the borrowed CX-5, which had plenty of cup holders and leg room. Susan and Mary Beth got to enjoy the ride while I sped through the changes in terrain along I-35.
If you haven't been to Austin, you may not realize how beautiful the terrain is. It's not the flat, dusty ranch lands of the west, or the concrete metropolis of Dallas, or the swampy, humid lowlands in Houston. It's rocky and wild and gorgeous, on the eastern edge of Hill Country. Near my house, there is a park along Bull Creek where stone walls and giant boulders coexist with hikers and swimmers, and kids and adults and pets of all sizes enjoy nature.
I clearly don't visit these places enough; when I brought my son and a friend, the boys enjoyed jumping from rock to rock, and I loved watching them pick up rocks and explore.
I've been in Texas for nine years now, and in some ways, it seems like it gets a little bigger every time I drive across it. Good friends, good times, good vehicle, and I'm ready to explore some more. And from what I've seen of Tim Taliaferro and the updated Texas Monthly, it's going to get better and better.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE MAZDA CX-5
From a vehicle perspective, if you like to take road trips in a sporty compact SUV with enough room for 3 people and their luggage on a long weekend, the Mazda CX-5 is a great choice.
Mazda CX-5 details:
MSRP: From $24,045 (excellent value)
MPG: Up to 24 city / 31 highway
5/5 score from cars.com
Engine: 187-hp, 2.5-liter I-4 (regular gas)
Quiet ride, good pickup
Ideal customers for the CX-5: small families with kids older than 2; single people; couples of any age.
I like to refer to Cars.com's car seat check when recommending a vehicle for families, and this is what they say. In other words, great for forward-facing car seats and boosters; less so for infant seats.