In Texas, the chile pepper is a staple of many food dishes. Most Texans are familiar with the jalapeño, a medium-sized pepper typically picked when it is green. Originating in Mexico, the jalapeño is widely cultivated in Texas and in 1995 was designated the state pepper of Texas. It can be prepared pickled, smoked (chipolte), stuffed, or simply chopped in salsa. Flavorful, the jalapeño is nonetheless considered to be mild in the range of pepper heat levels.
On the other hand, the Chiltepin, also known as chile tepin, is a wild child pepper, native to Texas and surrounding areas that is very high in heat level. The tepin peppers are often cited as hotter than the habanero, though the tepin chile heat tends to diminish rapidly. In 1995, the Chiltepin became known as official native pepper of Texas. Most botanical experts believe the tepin chile is the oldest form of the pepper plant and, hence, mother of all subsequent peppers.
We love our peppers in Texas, be they the ever-popular jalapeño or the dangerously hot tepin chile.
Each year, on the second weekend in March, the small town of Sweetwater, Texas begins to rattle and hum. Literally. Over the course of four days, Sweetwater is home to the Rattlesnake Roundup, the world’s largest event devoted to the venomous snake. Snake aficionados enjoy guided snake hunts, snake-handling demonstrations, and even eating fried rattlesnake! Folks less fond of the slithering creatures still find time for the Miss Snakecharmer Pageant, food booths, games, and other family-friendly events.
Initiated in 1958 by ranchers wanting to control the rattlesnake population in this area just west of Abilene, the Rattlesnake Roundup now draws over 40,000 people a year. People arrive early in the day to view the weigh-in for the World’s Largest Rattlesnake competition. Mid-day, they might join a rattlesnake tour run by the Sweetwater Jayvees, the event’s sponsor. Finally when hunger creeps up, they can enjoy some classic smoked meats as this event has one of the largest barbecue cook-offs in a state synonymous with cooking competitions. Make your plans to attend. It is never boring come March in Sweetwater.
Texas, with its extensive river system, stunning lakes, and lengthy coastline, offers plenty of opportunities for kayakers, canoe owners, and other water enthusiasts. Texas Parks and Wildlife has a program, called Texas Paddling Trails, designed to develop public inland and coastal paddling trails. The network of trails, supported with maps, signage, and other information, provide paddlers of all levels the structure necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing. Additionally, the trails are free to the public.
There are over a million paddlers in Texas alone, and demand for trails is high. Texas Parks and Wildlife often works with partners to develop new trails. For example, in February 2013, as part of World Wetlands Day, Texas Parks and Wildlife partnered with local community groups to launch ten paddling trails along the Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake in east Texas. With these ten new trails there are close to 50 inland and coastal paddling trails documented by the state. Each trail is fully documented, complete with notes on getting to the launch site, what to expect while on the trip, and other things to do in the area. To view more about the paddling trips, visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/
Texas offers plenty of options for the outdoor enthusiastic. The paddling opportunities developed by Texas Parks and Wildlife complement the extensive off-road biking, hiking, and camping options. Combine two or more of these activities to create an action-packed outdoor adventure vacation.
Many parts of Texas have been fortunate to not be hit as hard by the down economy compared to the rest of the country. That said, Texas residents haven’t been exempt from the economic downturn. Many individuals in the Texas area have had difficulty paying their property tax bills due to a lagging economic climate. Property tax loans can cause distress and confusion when people first encounter them. Switching from one type of debt to another to cover their taxes on real estate might seem like an atypical approach, however property tax loans can be a great option for many individuals.
If you find yourself in between a rock and a hard place with your property taxes, or even if you are to the point where your house might be foreclosed on, you should really consider a property tax loan. In Texas, you can get a property tax loan for a variety of property types, from land properties to residential or commercial. Property tax loans function as a lump sum payment to the original loaner, which then allow you to pay off the balance month to month.
In Texas, you can get a property tax loan quickly and easily. Most people will qualify for one as the barrier to entry is quite low, and people with poor credit can still readily attain them. Additionally, they’re quite a bit cheaper than the penalties you could run into with a tax assessor, and they guard you against running into further penalties. The best thing about them is that they pay off all of your initial loan, interest, and any penalties you have in one swoop.
Xeriscaping typically refers to landscaping an environment in a manner that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental irrigation. What comprises a xeriscaped garden will depend upon its specific geographic location. However, most xeriscaping adheres to the principles of planning/design; appropriate plant selection; efficient irrigation; practical turf areas; mulching; and maintenance
In Central Texas, and especially Austin, residential garden design traditionally included a large lawn, with border hedges and flowering beds. With this design has come the introduction of many non-native plants and St. Augustine lawn which requires significant water to maintain. The exploding population and catastrophic drought have led many people to rethink their garden and landscaping decisions. Into this mix has arisen xeriscaping which tends to favor the replacement of non-native species with local flora that is drought and disease tolerant. This can include the reduction or elimination of a lawn.
Xeriscaping will not eliminate the beauty of your garden. It will require thought and planning as well as regular maintenance. The joy and reward comes from learning about local plants and reducing your reliance of expensive and precious water resources. If you are considering landscaping your property, give some consideration to xeriscaping.
This spring, Texans all over the state are celebrating Mexico’s defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla. This battle, fought on May 5th, 1862, marked the final attempt of Europe, to control Mexico. So, you wonder why Texans are celebrating? Well Texas was Mexico at one point, in fact the General who won that famous battle, General Zaragosa, was born in Goliad! The history of Texas is deeply tied to Mexico’s. Things we think are part n parcel of being a Texan, like barbecue or chili, actually originated in Mexico. So, consider participating in some Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which often include Mariachi music and folkloric dancing as well as lots of delicious food.
Check out the following list for Cinco de Mayo celebrations near you!
• Austin will host their 8th annual Cinco de Mayo celebration at the lovely Fiesta Gardens, On the 4th and 5th of May. This is located on Lady Bird Lake just minutes from downtown. They’ll provide good food, Tejano music, and flamenco dancing as part of their celebration.
• Goliad honors its native son, Gen. Zaragoza, who fought the battle of Puebla. They celebrate Cinco de Mayo with an annual fiesta on the weekend closest to Cinco de Mayo. The local Zaragoza Society coordinates the celebration, which includes Mexican food and music.
• San Antonio devotes three days to the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.
• Alpine schedules an annual Cabrito Cookoff on a weekend for their Cinco de Mayo celebration.
• Dallas’ Cinco de Mayo celebration usually includes a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of Gen. Zaragoza in Jaycee Zaragoza Park in West Dallas. Various neighborhoods hold fiestas throughout the city.
• Falfurrias holds its annual Cinco de Mayo celebrations each year at Lasater Park.
• Fort Stockton has an annual observance the Saturday following the 5th of May.
• Fort Worth marks Cinco de Mayo the last weekend of April.
• Freeport celebrates Cinco de Mayo each May.
• Grand Prairie in North Texas has a Cinco de Mayo art contest for area children. A parade, usually on the Saturday nearest May 5, starts at 14th and Main and includes the city’s school bands, and ballet folklorico groups, as well as speeches and mariachi music.
• Uvalde opens Cinco de Mayo with the raising of the U.S. flag at the Jardin de los Heros (Garden of the Heroes) Park. The cultural celebrations have been used to raise money by the American Legion for more than 25 years.
Sarah Reinersten, the 37-year best known as the first woman on a prosthetic leg to finish the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, was in Austin as part of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. She spoke on the topic of “The Bionic Athlete and the Future of Sports” about prosthetic technology and the future of sports.
Reinersten’s story is an inspirational one. She was born with a bone disorder that led to her losing her one of her legs just above the knee at age 7. With the help of prosthetics she focused on running and by her early teens was racing in international meets. She later focused on marathons and triathlons, using a variety of prosthetic devices to enable her to compete.
While the use of prosthetics remains controversial, Reinersten remains steadfast in her belief that she is not gaining an unfair advantage, particularly in the triathlon where she still finishes far behind the top woman in the field.
“I am six hours behind them,” she says. “There is no advantage there.”
However, prosthetic technology has greatly improved over the past decade, allowing athletes like Reinertsen to focus on their techniques and improve their performance. Reinersten continues to train hard and is intent on qualifying for the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. As part of her preparation, she will race the Capitol of Texas Triathlon in May. Catch her there, if you can!