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Living in Texas, How Lucky Can I Be?

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 7/26/2015

While traveling, I usually engage in conversation with someone who asks me where in Texas I am from. I don’t think I have a Texas accent, but since this has happened more than once, I guess I do. It is nothing unusual for someone to say “yeehaw” or ask where my boots and hat are. I usually don’t travel with my boots and hat, but you better believe they are in my closet at home.

Serving as the ATPE regional representative for members in Regions 9 and 11 keeps me in my comfort zone. You see, in these two regions you will find famous sporting events, rodeos, museums, and many other attractions. Right up my alley!

If you haven’t visited the Fort Worth Stockyards, you are missing out on a piece of history that cannot be replicated anywhere else on earth. From cattle drives to cattle barons, you will find it all here. To find out more, read North of the River: A Brief History of North Fort Worth by J’Nell Pate, whose book centers around livestock, tourism, and family life. The Stockyards is also home to the world’s largest honky tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas, where you can take in a great performance or try to ride the mechanical bull and then walk on over for a steak at Cattlemen’s Steak House.

Each January you will find people of all ages at the Will Rogers Coliseum, home of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth. The grand champion steer was auctioned off for a record-setting $240,000 during the 2015 event! The steer was then donated to the Fort Worth Zoo, another one of the area’s big attractions. Across the street from the Will Rogers Coliseum are the Cowgirl Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Don’t bypass Casa Mañana, where you can take in a great performance. Downtown Fort Worth houses Bass Hall and Sundance Square. If you are lucky, you might catch ESPN Sports when they are broadcasting from the square. And of course, the yearly performance of the Nutcracker Suite at Bass Hall is a must.

A few miles northeast you will find the town of Grapevine, which houses the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center and the Great Wolf Lodge. Both are vacation destination spots. Whether you enjoy concerts and the yearly winter wonderland at the Gaylord or the indoor water park at Great Wolf, both are worth the visit. In September, the Grapevine Wine Festival is a big draw. With its arts and crafts and area-produced beverages, people travel from all over to attend. What a day!

If you like huge crowds and lots of noise, then Texas Motor Speedway is a must. People travel from all over the world on race days. What a great experience it is to see the stadium filled and hear the roar of the cars.

In neighboring Arlington, you will find Globe Life Park, home to the Texas Rangers baseball team, and across the street the massive AT&T Stadium (or “Jerry World” to those of us who live here), home to the Dallas Cowboys. Down the street is the famous Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor water park. Enjoy a day of roller coasters and rides at Six Flags and then relax in the lazy river at Hurricane Harbor.

Our regions are home to many universities and colleges. We currently have ATPE chapters on two of these campuses: Tarleton State University in Stephenville and Texas Woman’s University in Denton.

Just when you think you have seen or done it all, you can travel to Wichita Falls and take part in the Hotter’N Hell Hundred endurance bike race, which takes place at the end of August each year. I was in town during this event last year, and let me tell you, these riders are serious about their bikes. They even sleep with them--I witnessed riders taking their bikes into the hotel I was staying in. Travel on to Graham, where you can get a taste of living on a ranch by spending time at the Wildcatter Ranch. They also have a great restaurant on site.

There is no shortage of activities and sites in our regions. The challenge comes in finding time to visit them all.

In Regions 9 and 11, culture and cowtown go hand and hand. If you haven’t visited this great part of the state, I hope you will put it at the top of your to-do list. Just don’t forget your boots and hat!

Check out Diane's Photo Album.

Diane Pokluda is ATPE’s representative for regions 9 and 11. Before she started working at ATPE, Diane spent 34 years as a classroom teacher.