Finding Love...Outside Texas?

Categories: Contests, Travel

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...in all the wrong places.
It's a nine hour drive
From me to you
South on 1-95
And I'll do it 'til the day that I die If I need to
Just to see you
- Fountains of Wayne

For years I was fascinated by life on the East Coast. Having lived my entire life in Texas, the idea that Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. were all close enough to drive to without an overnight stay was so foreign to a kid who grew up in a state where the distance from home to El Paso was farther than the distance from El Paso to Los Angeles. Then I drove all over the East Coast on numerous occasions and realized that, while physically close, getting around by car routinely took longer than the driving distance would indicate.

So, when a press release for a contest called America's Chance for Romance landed in my inbox with the line "If singles are sick of dating in their own state, this will give them the chance to be paired with someone from a completely different state based on similarities from their questionnaire and video submission," I had to chuckle.

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7 Texas Drive-In Theaters That You Can Still Visit

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Photo by Andrew Dupont
The Starlite in Brenham still stands as a reminder of the halcyon days of drive-in theaters

The Starlite Drive-In Theater lies abandoned just off of Highway 290 in Brenham, looking like a dead monument to a time long gone. Anyone taking that route between Houston and Austin will have seen the back of its single screen and a tall metal fence around the perimeter.

Scattered around America, there are many old drive-ins. Most are lifeless husks, either abandoned and slowly being claimed by the elements, or having been repurposed into something entirely different. In other cases, they're simply gone, demolished so the land they sat on could be redeveloped into something more profitable.

Those that have disappeared entirely are relegated to the memories of locals who can still remember going to see movies there, but as time goes on fewer people are around who went to movies when they were open for business. There's a definite ghostlike quality to those old, boarded up drive-in theaters. It seems that most of the ones still standing are usually scattered on the outskirts of small towns where land is plentiful, and not in high demand. There's no rush to buy the theaters, and in those cases they simply stand vacant, as a reminder of a long gone era of American entertainment.

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Places in and Around Houston That Feel Like You've Stepped Back in Time

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Photo by Eric Mueller
A car would help to visit these places, but it doesn't have to be a DeLorean.
Sometimes the pace of modern life can get to anyone, and we long for a simpler time. Unless you have a time-traveling DeLorean, your only option for really reaching back in time is to find places that keep elements of the past alive.

Fortunately for us would-be time bandits (okay, if you can travel back in time, I don't condone stealing anything), there are a few places in and around Houston that will give us a taste of a bygone era without the need for an expensive time-traveling 1980s sports car to get there. Places like...

1. Yale Street Grill & Gifts, 2100 Yale

This Heights diner is one of the oldest left in Houston, occupying a space in what originally was the Yale Pharmacy. The diner area is exactly what one would expect from an old-fashioned malt shop, and the food and drinks are excellent diner fare. The area that used to be the pharmacy is now an antiques mall, so there's cool stuff to browse through if that's your thing. I'll be there for an old-fashioned burger and milkshake. The atmosphere is pleasantly anachronistic, and worth the lines that form on weekends.

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The Best of the "Topless Tour" Trend on Instagram

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Traveling to an exotic locale is awesome. There are new experiences, new foods, and new cultures, all at your fingertips. Or apparently your nipples. Well, if you're part of the new Topless Tour trend, anyway.

The brainchild of three college roommates, The Topless Tour is a social media movement meant to "unite people across the globe to feel the freedom and share their beauty with the world." So what does that mean? Well, precisely what it sounds like: The Topless Tour encourages people to go on a topless tour.


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Vacation Porn: The 10 Remote Beaches We Want to Spend Our Summer On

Categories: Top 10, Travel

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Photo by PhillipC via flickr
Stuck in the office, dreaming of the dog days of summer? Well, how about a little vacation porn to tide you over.

Don't worry, it's safe for work. It just may not be safe for your wallet, should you get dragged too far into those beach fantasies. So hold on to your pocketbooks, folks, and indulge yourself in the world of remote beaches.

If this list happens to tempt you enough to book a flight to the far reaches of Cambodia or Chile, just make sure you save room in your suitcases for us to stow away. We want to go too.

Please?

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The Best Hidden Places in Texas for Road-Trippin'

Categories: Nature, Travel

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Photo by dherrera_96 via flickr
Oh, there's so much to see in Texas. From the white sands of the coastal shores to the deep canyons on down, our state has so much to offer.

And while everyone knows about some of our more national attractions -- Big Bend, South Padre Island and so on -- this is an enormous state, covering 268,820 square miles of land. With girth like that, there are bound to be a number of hidden gems in Texas that are just itching to be explored.

So if you're still busy planning out a summer vacation, perhaps you should eschew the typical and head for the hills -- of the Hill Country, perhaps -- or one of the many other places on this list, to find yourself a real adventure, Texas-style.

Here are the best hidden places to road-trip in Texas. Saddle up, y'all, but leave the spurs at home.


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A Houstonian Abroad: Oktoberfest 2013, Y'all (Part 1)

Categories: Festivals, Travel

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The Barfiest Place On Earth
The last time I was in Munich, Germany was 20 years ago. My father and I visited Dachau concentration camp, and in a subsequent fit of bummed out-ness made a high speed burn to the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the Austrian border, where we numbed ourselves to the horrors we witnessed with high altitude Alpine journeys and visits to Neuchswanstein and Hohenshwangau castles. Fun fact: I have my own version of Ludwig's "Venus Grotto" in my garage. It's an old bathtub next to a broken air hockey table.

A different sort of horror awaited me on my return last week, namely the city's annual Oktoberfest. The festival is billed as the largest "Volksfest" in the world, and has been held every year since 1810, more or less (those pesky World Wars). This particular trip had been booked since last February, so while I had plenty of time to gird my mental loins for the scale of the endeavor, it isn't until you get there that you get a sense of just how massive the spectacle is, and how ill-prepared most foreigners are for it.


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Get out the greasepaint; It's summer in the Berkshires

Categories: Stage, Travel

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Photo courtesy of Shakespeare & Co.
Olympia Dukakis in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, from July 26 to August 5
When the temperature heads toward the three-digit mark, my thoughts turn to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, where the arts flourish each summer, as prevalent as dandelions. The Berkshire Mountains were formed more than half a billion years ago when Africa collided with North America, pushing up the Appalachian Mountains and forming the bedrock of the Berkshires. Erosion over hundreds of millions of years wore these mountains down to the hills that we see today, but the evenings are cool, and some of the theater offerings even cooler.

Most famous is the Williamstown Festival, now in its 58th year, which this year gives us three musicals. One is a revival, June 26 to July 14, of the 1928 Animal Crackers (you may know the 1930 movie), originally starring the Marx Brothers. The new musicals are on August 1-18: The Bridges of Madison County (you wept through the book and the 1995 movie), headed for Broadway in January, and on July 24 to August 3 Johnny Baseball about the curse on the Boston Red Sox. Also available is George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion on July 17 to 27 and Tom Stoppard's 1988 spy thriller Hapgood on July 10- 21. Plus much more - check the website.

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