Favorite place: Santa Elena Canyon, in Big Bend.
My absolute favorite spot is on the river in Santa Elena Canyon, in Big Bend. It is a reach-out-and-touch-the-face-of-God kind of place. Looking up at the “skyscraper” rock walls that shoot up from the riverbanks makes me feel small and insignificant, and I realize that the only thing temporary there is me. I have spent a lot of time in that place—one that most people in Texas will never see—and its beauty and enormity have spawned many thoughts, some good and some bad.
Once, as I was emerging from the mouth of the canyon, I ran into the musician Butch Hancock. He was sitting on a rock, playing his guitar and making up songs. I asked him why he was practicing his craft in such a remote place, and he said, “Life is too short not to mix business and pleasure whenever you get the chance.” Santa Elena inspires that kind of creativity.
Phillips is a television journalist who has hosted the weekly syndicated program Texas Country Reporter for more than forty years. He lives in Beaumont.