I hop into the car to spend the night in San Antonio, my former home and still hometown. It’s late Thanksgiving evening and even now I am full. A day of corn-based, over-sucrosed food followed by waves of tryptophan-induced apathy.
When I left Austin a few weeks ago for Costa Rica, a surf trip to neighboring Nicaragua wasn’t in my plans. “Jungles and volcanoes,” I told my sister before I left, “and see a few birds.” But when a buddy sent me an e-mail two weeks into my trip about surfing I was intrigued. He wrote, “Go surf the legendary surf break at Popoyo.” I was hooked at “legendary” and left the highland Costa Rican town of La Fortuna on a bus the very next day.
A small lake converted into a reservoir in 1979, Lake Arenal is located a few miles away from the foot of Mount Arenal, a jungle-encrusted volcano rising over the North Central Plains of Costa Rica. Today the lake forms a long, thin sliver of water dotted with boutique hotels, self-sustaining eco-resorts, and some of the best vistas in the country.
“You like Costa Rica?” the ferryman asked me as the small boat sped across the glassy waters of the Golfo de Nicoya.
“Primero tiempo aqui,” I said. “But I like what I see.”
Location: San Antonio
What You’ll Need: Significant Other
Location: Dallas and Fort Worth
What You’ll Need: Sketch pad, beret
Some people wouldn’t be caught dead in a Salvation Army. (As a woman I know recently put it, “Don’t you wonder whose dress you’re wearing?) Others consider thrift shopping a way of life. I’m in the latter camp. Why do I love to thrift? It boils down to the thrilling possibility of finding something really, really great for really, really cheap. Buying second-hand means you can wear interesting clothes that are unique to you, without breaking the bank.
1. Most modern toy stores bombard customers with a cacophony of electronic beeping and whirring, but at MILK and HONEY, you’ll be greeted with the tranquillity of imagination at work. In addition to cribs (outfitted with custom-made sheets), clothing, and paper goods, the children’s gift boutique features items from a bygone era, like wooden train sets, barnyard animal puzzles, and charming Victorian dollhouses. Best of all, no batteries required. 101 S.
Name a college town with lots of public art, scenic riverside trails that run for miles, a thriving live-music scene, and bats roosting under a bridge. No, not Austin. Try San Angelo, a town I’ve dismissed all these years as a place to loop around to get to New Mexico. But once I finally shot straight to its heart, I discovered an almost urbane ticker, boasting cosmopolitan shopping, art galleries, museums, nightclubs, and a lily garden that wowed me.
Tell people you’re going to Graham and most ask, “Where?” Those who know that the town is 88 miles northwest of Fort Worth ask, “Why?”