Day Trips & Beyond: May Travel Roundup

Flowers, birds, and more to spy on spring road trips

May flowers are lining the highways and the number of fun events are increasing around the area.

The Mississippi sandhill cranes are the rarest of the North American sandhill cranes, but the majestic birds are often seen at the national wildlife refuge a short distance off I-10 east of Biloxi, Miss. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

There are two species of cranes in North America, the whooping crane and the sandhill crane, out of the 15 species of cranes worldwide. The whooping crane is the largest, but the sandhill is the most numerous. Of the six subspecies of the sandhill cranes the Cuban, Florida, and Mississippi stay in one place year-round. The Mississippi sandhill crane is the rarest of the sandhills with only 129 birds counted in 2019, up from 30 in the 1960s. By contrast there are 450-500,000 lesser sandhill cranes.

Despite being the scarcest, the Mississippi sandhill crane is one of the easiest to locate. This is because they congregate in the pine tree wetlands of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge about 20 miles east of Biloxi, Miss., and a handful of miles off I-10. The Mississippi subspecies was the first species listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the national wildlife refuge near the Gulf Coast in Mississippi was the first sanctuary authorized by the law.

Standing four to five feet tall, the non-migratory Mississippi sandhill cranes have large gray bodies, long spindly legs, and the distinctive red cap. They aren’t so much afraid of humans as they tolerate our presence at a socially acceptable distance, especially around the feeders at the visitor center. The visitor center north of Gautier, Miss., currently closed to visitors because of the pandemic, has an excellent museum about the cranes and hiking trails. The refuge can’t guarantee that you’ll see the majestic birds, but there is a good chance you will. Call the headquarters to find out where the birds were last spotted for an exciting break to any long drive on I-10 across the South.
Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, Gautier, MS, 228/497-6322,

More than 100 Zimbabwean stone sculptures will be a part of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens this summer. (Photo courtesy Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens)

ZimSculpt comes to Dallas. The gardens of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens will be an outdoor gallery for modern Zimbabwean stone sculpture this summer. ZimSculpt, an exhibition of more than 100 sculptures, fills the gardens, and will be on view through Aug. 8. Along with the art pieces, artists Passmore Mupindiko and Brighton Layson will demonstrate their artistry daily in the park.
Through August 8, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Dallas, 214/515-6615,

Travel Notes:

The “Blood Moon” won’t hurt you. You’ll have to be up at 3:47am to see the total lunar eclipse on May 26. During this astronomical event the sun, Earth, and the moon are in precise alignment so that the Earth’s shadow covers the moon’s surface. During the total eclipse part, it will be at maximum at 6:18am, and the sunlight will shine through the Earth’s atmosphere giving the moon a red glow. Sleep past 6:28am and you’ll miss it.

News from the farm. The folks at Johnson’s Backyard Garden have had such a good time with the spring transplant sale that they’re continuing with a farm stand on weekends at the Garfield farm. Not only can you purchase fresh, organic produce at the market, but they also have fields of herbs and flowers so you can pick your own. The farm is a conversation away east of Austin at 4008 River Rd. in Garfield; turn off Highway 71 at the McDonald’s at FM 214.

Picture this. In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston will provide docent-led art tours of its current exhibit. ”Shahidula Alam: Truth to Power” is the first U.S. museum survey of the noted Bangladeshi photographer, writer, and activist who was Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2018. Tickets for the tours are $5 for non-members. The exhibit offers a view of Bangladesh and South Asia through the eyes of a native.

Let’s drown some worms. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department will be stocking neighborhood fishing lakes with thousands of catfish through October. Kingfisher Pond and Bullfrog Pond in Travis County Metropolitan Park are two of 18 locations around the state. Kids under 17 years old fish free, while everyone else will need a fishing license. Anglers can keep up to five catfish per day.

Beat the summer heat. Splashway Waterpark in Sheridan (20 miles south of Weimar) opened for the season on May 1. Part water park and part campground, the park offers fishing, miniature golf, outdoor laser tag, and of course lots of water rides. Guests can bring their own RV or tent, or stay in one of the cabins.

Swimming au naturel. Swimming season begins May 1 at Jacob’s Well Natural Area outside of Wimberley and goes until Sept. 30. You must have an online reservation to dip your toes into the 68-degree water. Two-hour time slots are available four times a day between 10am and 6pm. Fees range from $5 to $9. Hiking around the 81 acres at the headwaters of Cypress Creek is open and free year-round.

Other May Events:

QuiltFest and Vintage Trucks & Tractor
May 1, Boerne,

HoneyBee Jubilee
May 1, New Ulm,

Cinco de Mayo Celebration
May 1-2, Goliad,

Howdy-Roo CASI Chili Championship
May 1-2, Marble Falls,

Saturday Night Rodeo
May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Bulverde,

Sherwood Forest Faire
May 1-23, McDade,

East Texas Wildflower Trail Map
May 1-30, Henderson,

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
May 1-30, Waxahachie,

Live Thoroughbred Racing
May 1-July 11, Grand Prairie,

The Original Artisans Market
May 6, Victoria,

Gedenke! Festival
May 7-9, Weimar,

Tour of the Gault Archeology Site
May 8, Florence,

150th Anniversary Celebration
May 8, Round Top,

Yaga’s Wild Game BBQ Cook-off
May 8-9, Galveston,

WASP Homecoming & Fly-in
May 8, 15, Sweetwater,

The Art of Fredericksburg: 175 Years
May 8-Sept. 18, Fredericksburg,

Black History River Cruise
May 9, 22, San Antonio,

Lee County Fair
May 13-15, Giddings,

Magnolia Days Festival
May 14-15, Columbus,

Waltstock and Barrel Wine & Music Festival (Virtually)
May 14-15, Fredericksburg,

Galveston Island Beach Revue
May 15, Galveston,

Main Street Festival
May 15-16, Grapevine,

Dennis Hopper Day
May 17, Taos, N.M.,

Get On! Moto Fest
May 21-23, Fort Worth,

National Polka Festival
May 28-30, Ennis,

Crawfish Festival
May 28-30, Fredericksburg,

Crider’s Rodeo and Dancehall
May 29, Hunt,

Kerrville Folk Festival (Virtually)
May 29, Kerrville,

May 29, Navasota,

Rockport Wine Festival
May 29, Rockport,

Lone Star Book Festival
May 29, Seguin,

In search of more virtual or IRL travel ideas? Visit our Out of Town listings.
Gerald McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for more than 25 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page and follow him on Facebook.

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Day Trips, birding, cranes, ZimSculpt, Dallas Arboretum, blood moon, Johnson's Backyard Garden, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, fishing, Splashway Waterpark, Jacob's Well Natural Area, Wimberley

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