Author Archives: Larry Gfeller

Backroads Nature–Lost Maples State Natural Area

Cooler days and nights, swirling red and gold leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows and corn mazes are signs that autumn is here. But you don’t have to trek to New England to enjoy a breathtaking palette of fall colors. Right here in Texas—nestled along the Sabinal River about three hours southwest of Bastrop—is the state’s largest stand of Canadian bigtooth maple trees east of the Guadalupe Mountains.  It is, of course, Lost Maples State Natural Area, a beloved weekend trip for many Texans and a popular tourist destination for interstate… Read More →

What’s In a Name?

There are historical figures whose names live on beyond their times. Burleson, Caldwell, McCulloch are but a few who left their mark on our local area. But there is another name, somewhat less known, that helped to forge our early history. There is a Texas State Historical Marker at 115 east Main in Nacogdoches which provides a brief synopsis. It reads:  (1801 – 1873) Creator of the Texas Navy, builder of the first wharf at Galveston. Financial advisor of the Republic of Texas. Senior member of the firm… Read More →

The Allentown Stinker

A name conveys so much more than mere description. For example, there’s a certain cachet to the label “exotic.”  Generally, this gets at the idea of exclusivity or “coolness.” The prestige quickly evaporates, however, when one follows up with “alien.”  This combination leaves a decidedly sour taste.  Everyone has to be from somewhere, so it’s a little unkind, but to be known as an alien is to be known as not from here, to be incongruous—to not be welcome. Everyone wants to be loved but aliens are universally… Read More →

Beware Homo Sunvabichicus

Roy Bedichek was an Austin boy better known as a naturalist than for his actual profession. If he were alive today he would most certainly be a highly sought after guest speaker for master naturalist chapter meetings across Texas.  Roy Bedichek, like Stevie Ray Vaughn, is so beloved in Austin that he has been immortalized in bronze near one of the city’s most adored bodies of water—Barton Creek Pool.  More on that later. I was first introduced to Roy Bedichek by my daughter-in-law, in the form of a… Read More →

Back Roads Nature–Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Out here, the north Texas shortgrass prairie seems infinite under a relentless sun and perpetual withering wind. The land spreads flat to the horizon, making it hard to believe the earth really is round. Like a great blonde ocean there is nothing but monotonous repetition in all directions, without end. This is the southern high plains, named El Llano Estacado by the Spanish. Then, suddenly, the earth falls away before you, plunging 800 feet, presenting a gash stretching 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, gaping like some… Read More →