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Land That We Love

If you ask thirteen famous Texans to name their favorite place, don’t be surprised when you get thirteen very different answers.

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Photograph by Jeff Wilson

Texas, it has been said, is a state of mind. If that’s an abstract way of thinking, it’s at least rooted in a very physical reality: we live in a land of unending skies and disparate spaces, where mesquite stretches for miles in one direction and pine clusters densely in another, where rivers form borders and bayous, where the flatness of our plains rivals the depths of our canyons. For Texans our understanding of ourselves has as much to do with terrain—with place—as it does with our shared values of friendliness, independence, and barbecue.

How we each appropriate this place, of course, is entirely personal. Most of us can probably think of a particular road or a certain view or a special hole-in-the-wall that we return to over and over again—because it reminds us of a certain time in our lives or stirs our senses or renews our souls in a way that transcends words. These settings make this vast state feel intimate, immediate, and individually ours.

It’s with that distinct relationship in mind that we decided to ask famous Texans to identify their favorite place in the state and tell us why it matters to them. We then sent photographer Jeff Wilson on a journey to capture each spot. The resulting images provide a delightfully idiosyncratic view of what we might call our favorite Texas. Let them charm you, offer new meaning, and remind you of who you are.

  1. Willie NelsonFavorite place: His ranch near Spicewood.
  2. Lyle LovettFavorite place: St. Paul  Lutheran Church, in Serbin.
  3. Sandra CisnerosFavorite place: A huge cypress along the San Antonio River.
  4. Billy GibbonsFavorite place: H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop, in El Paso.
  5. Erykah BaduFavorite place: My grandmother’s front porch, in Dallas,
  6. Bob PhillipsFavorite place: Santa Elena Canyon, in Big Bend.
  7. Norah JonesFavorite place: Big Bend National Park.
  8. Richard LinklaterFavorite place: Rothko Chapel, in Houston.
  9. Liz LambertFavorite place: The stone tank on her family ranch, between Marfa and Fort Davis.
  10. Kliff KingsburyFavorite place: Gruene Hall, in New Braunfels.
  11. Laura BushFavorite place: The Native Texas Park at at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
  12. Larry McMurtrySecond-favorite place: The Ranchman’s cafe, in Ponder.
  13. Lance ArmstrongFavorite place: Redbud Trail, in Austin.

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