The Memorial Day weekend means summer vacation time is fast approaching. Vacations can be expensive, so why not find some vacation fun closer to home? The Big Country is full of wonderful places to explore and things to do, and your Abilene Public Library can help you find what's out there.
How about packing up a picnic lunch and driving to Fort Phantom Hill just north of Abilene? The fort was built before the Civil War and though it wasn't used for long, there is still plenty of history to see. The site is open daily during daylight hours and is free of charge to visitors. Before you go you might want to visit your library and check out A History of Fort Phantom Hill: The Post on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River by Martha Doty Freeman...it's more fun to visit a place if you know a bit about it.
35 miles northeast of Abilene, the entire family can find entertainment in Albany. Whether you enjoy history, art, shopping, or the annual event known as the "Fandangle," you will have a good time in Albany. The Fandangle (last two weekends in June) is a western musical telling the story of the founding of Albany, Fort Griffin and the entire area. Before you go, find out more by taking a look at For 500 Years: The Shackelford County Courthouse by Shirley Caldwell. Not only the history of a building, this story is a lively tale featuring a memorable assortment of characters and exciting events.
Other interesting reading might include Fort Griffin on the Texas Frontier by Carl Coke Rister or Bravo of the Brazos: John Larn of Fort Griffin, Texas by Robert K. DeArment. Both these books will tell you more about the rough and tumble frontier life our forebears experiences up on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River.
Fort Worth is another worthy destination, with delightful stops all along the way. Your Abilene Public Library has copies of the unique Windshield History of this part of Texas, both coming and going. Fort Worth to Abilene is a one disc audio tour of the immigrant's trail west on the U.S. Hwy 180 and TX Hwy 351 route, while Abilene to Fort Worth: Interstate 20 covers the old U.S. Hwy 80 route. Local people voice the stories in the words of the pioneers themselves and you can almost see the the covered wagons and horses keeping pace along the roadway.
If you think the usual 'touristy' things aren't for you, take a look at Eric Peterson's Ramble Texas: A Wanderer's Guide to the Offbeat, Overlooked, and Outrageous. With sections covering the entire state, including two on West Texas, you should find interesting things both near and far to suit your wandering foot.
Texas Road Trip: Stories from Across the Great State and a Few Personal Reflections is a compilation of author and journalist Bryan Wooley's Dallas Morning News columns from 1999 through 2003. Texas Road Trip explores back roads, small towns and Texas originals. A similar book is Bob Phillips' Texas Country Reporter: Stories from the Backroads, which features 50 stories about the people and places along the less traveled roads of Texas. Anyone with a yen to go someplace different will find many options in either of these books.
Vacations don't have to be expensive to be fun! Let your Abilene Public Library help you find the perfect way to spend your time off this summer, whether you want to travel, or stay close to home. We can fix you up.
Article Contributed by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager