Day Trips

The year 2007 came in as a lamb and went out as a tired, old goat

Mother Neff State Park
Mother Neff State Park (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

2007 was the year that was. It came in as a lamb and went out as a tired, old goat. It's hard to complain about a year that didn't have a Katrina or a 9/11.

For day-trippers, good news came from the 80th Texas Legislature. Texas state and local parks finally received a boost in funding. After years of neglect and a $125 million backlog in repairs, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department received a $5 million boost to their $20.6 million budget. Besides money for operating the park, the Lege budgeted $25 million for repairs to the battleship Texas and $27 million for major infrastructure repairs at state parks.

Kudos to state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, for finally ushering the spending through the House. The bill also includes $36.3 million for local park grants and $52 million in bonding authority.

But the Lege gives and the Lege takes away. The bill transfers 18 state historic sites from TPWD to the Texas Historical Commission. The list includes the Landmark Inn in Castroville, the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Casa Navarro in San Antonio, and the Starr Family Home in Marshall.

And then Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick showed again that he can't play nice with other members by blocking the $2 million to save the Texas State Railroad. The beleaguered historical railroad between Rusk and Palestine has been on the verge of closure for the last few years. Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, got lawmakers to approve a Texas State Railroad Authority, but Craddick refused to let the money be spent. We'll have to wait and see if the trains will actually run in time to see the dogwood blooms.

At Lake Tawakoni State Park, 50 miles east of Dallas, it was the spiders that were making news. Scientists believe that thousands of spiders from different species worked together to make a web that stretched nearly 200 yards. Twelve kinds of spiders worked on the communal web that caught countless bugs and national attention.

Just when you thought is was safe to go back into the water, a Nacogdoches man was in critical but stable condition after being infected with flesh-eating bacteria during a swim, July 8 at Crystal Beach in Galveston County. The 58-year-old man was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a tissue-destroying disease caused by the Vibrio bacterium. Doctors said healthy swimmers probably had nothing to fear but those with open wounds or chronic illnesses shouldn't wade into the Gulf of Mexico during the summer months.

In Lubbock, the divide between the city and Buddy Holly's estate got a little wider this year. The City Council rescinded a 1995 resolution creating the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame and Buddy Holly Terrace, after Maria Elena Holly asked for $10,000 in annual licensing fees. The locations will now be known as the West Texas Walk of Fame and the West Texas Terrace.

Previously, the city changed the name of the Buddy Holly Music Festival after Ms. Holly increased the fee for the event held around the musician's Sept. 7 birthday. The concert is now known as the Lubbock Music Festival. Ms. Holly still gets a percentage of the Buddy Holly Museum's gift-shop sales.

This past year, everyone from farmers to swimmers was happy with one of the wettest springs in recent memory. West Texas and the Panhandle enjoyed a March with more than 4 inches of moisture in an area that normally gets less than 2 inches.

But the long-term outlook isn't that rosy. Researchers at Columbia University said that Texas and the Southwest will see a trend of drier and hotter weather over the next two decades. Computer models conclude that the region will face serious drought conditions as early as 2021. While the droughts of the Dust Bowl and the 1950s were driven by natural temperature variations, the forecasted water shortage is the result of higher global temperatures.

And finally, what is hosting a Super Bowl worth? The Dallas City Council's bid for Super Bowl XLV in 2011 included an exemption from all local taxes. At the same time Dallas law enforcement, fire, and medical services will provide free game-related services.

861st in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

battleship Texas, Texas State Railroad, Lake Tawakoni State Park, Vibrio bacterium, Buddy Holly

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