Austin has been our home for the past three years and we absolutely love everything about it – the food, the bars, the music and, of course, the people.
A year and a half ago my wife and I began making regular weekend trips to state parks and natural areas in Texas.
Every once in a while, though, you just need to get away.
A year and a half ago my wife and I began making regular weekend trips to state parks and natural areas in Texas. We weren’t necessarily feeling trapped in the city, but trapped by the city – too easily falling into a routine of constantly going out and doing the same things.
We needed a break from that.
Our first destination? Monahans State Park – a mere six hours west of Austin, and a landscape you would never expect to see in Texas. We needed an escape from the masses and chose this particular park for its remoteness. Driving through the sleepy west Texas towns of Midland and Odessa, the smell of oil permeating through the air, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
When we arrived at our campsite we were surrounded by massive sand dunes as far as the eye could see.
Monahans State Park – a mere six hours west of Austin – offers a landscape you would never expect to see in Texas.
We spent the entire day just hiking, sledding (you can rent saucers in the visitors center) and marveling at the scenery. Monahans really is just a giant sandbox for adults!
Trudging through the sand, we climbed to the top of the tallest dune to watch the sunset, the sky casting a pink hue over the sand while we ate our dinner. A short hike later and we nestled back into our tent under a giant star-filled Texas sky.
This trip was the catalyst for our countless other weekend trips over the past year – some further, some closer to home, but all within a day’s drive. Admittedly we overpacked for the first trip, but there’s no shame in that. We’ve learned that you don’t need to “rough it” to enjoy the outdoors. However, you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune on proper gear and equipment either. Our tent is from Wal-mart and our sleeping bags are hand-me-downs from friends.
Our trips aren’t necessarily technology free either. Phones and cameras are just ingrained in our way of life this day and age, and there’s no reason you need to “unplug” while camping or hiking. We’re constantly snapping photos with our phones and cameras and sharing our adventures through Instagram and Facebook. One thing I have found is to not let the fact you are taking pictures get in the way of enjoying where you are. Photos are nice, but memories are more important.
So we urge you to get out there and explore the natural landscape of this great state – from the Gulf Coast to the towering timber in the east, the canyon filled panhandle and the mountains in the far west, the landscape in Texas is like none other, and it’s all a day’s drive away.
-Jeremy Pawlowski of America Y’all
2500 E Interstate 20
Monahans, TX 79756
Recommended stops along the way to Monahans:
Preston Smith Rd.
Odessa, TX 79762
604 W. Young Street
Llano, TX 78643