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Hankering for...

Updated: Mar 14, 2020

If I were a rock star, my souvenir concert tour t-shirt would read:



Fort Worth


Buffalo Gap



San Antonio



As Sam Houston, the Lone Star Republic’s first president said close to two hundred years ago, (in 1832)

"I am about to enter Texas. My spirits are good and my heart is straight."

When I was growing up, my dad worked in the tallest building in Dallas and Texas was the largest state in the country. For some reason, both were real badges of honor for me. Today, the Lone Star State is the second largest state in the U.S. in both size and population.

Although stereotyped for its dusty planes with cacti and tumbleweeds, it’s the bluebonnets that draw me at this time of year. But there’s so much more.

Texas is jam-packed with memories that resurface each time I go home. Both my sons were born there. I was educated there; hired for my first job fresh out of Texas Tech University in Lubbock as an eager traffic and continuity girl at KDUB TV. Two marriage proposals there, one as little more than a teenager and the other on a sunny Saturday morning which I recount in my soon-to-appear book, The Orange Woods:

“He only had to ask once.

“Of course, I’ll marry you,” I gushed.

It didn’t matter that the stage was IHOP Restaurant on the Katy Freeway in Houston and that I had two little boys in tow. It was the most romantic moment of my life.”

Jack wrote a silly little tune about me years later:

“She was born in Oklahoma

But raised up a Texas Girl

I took her out to California

She took me around the world.”

Radio was good to us both in Texas, him especially. In 2011 he was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

My guilty pleasure is returning to Texas each year about this time.

I never got over Texas, not only my hometown of Dallas, but most of the state.

As Carl Sandburg said, “Texas is a blend of valor and swagger.”

Who wouldn’t want to jump in the middle of that?

So, here’s my Texas Bucket List for 2020’s journey:

Dallas, my first stop.

Dinner with childhood friends, Deanna (my father’s favorite) and Sis (my college roommate who wrote Ross Perot’s Biography, was a political editor at the Dallas Morning News and a professor at SMU) and Janice, who has been my Texas connection since eighth grade at Rusk Jr. High School.

Janice will no doubt make our reservation at the trendiest new restaurant in “the bubble,” as we affectionally refer the North Dallas area.

Or maybe we'll drive through Greenway Parks where the Kutner girls and I grew up as neighbors and by our alma mater, North Dallas High School, and then head to the Bishop Arts District for dinner.

Hopefully, I can get them to cruise by the corner of Live Oak and Ervay where the Mayflower Doughnut Shop used to be. We went so often as girls and it was here that I first noticed a work of art. The unique round building’s huge mural presented a vaguely medieval, nursery-rhymish image of two jesters- a sort of doughnut tragedy and comedy - which proclaimed The Optimist’s Creed:

The building, the mural and the donuts are long gone. It’s okay. I haven’t had a donut in twenty years.

Never visit Dallas without a visit to the Dallas Museum of Art where this time my docent friend, Nancy Cates, will take me on a tour of Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art . The exhibition is inspired by an extraordinary painting Flores Mexicanas by Alfredo Ramos Martínez on view for only the second time in nearly a century.

I love the monumental fresco murals by the Mexican painter and art teacher, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, especially those in San Diego at the Coronado Public Library, the “El Dia del Mercado” and the “Canasta de Flores.”

Enough of Dallas, highlights of the rest of the bucket list:

Fort Worth

Of course, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum but gotta' get a wild west women fix at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame where Hitting the Mark: Cowgirls and Wild West Shows features Annie Oakley and her travels with Wild Bill Hickok.


Who knew this little town west of Abilene is home of the annual Rattlesnake Round-up? Not hankering to hear a loud rattlin' noise...

We'll head west, a little out of the way, but oh so worth it to have a meal at Allen Family Style Restaurant. Frank, Janice’s husband, insists we go and I’m all over it.

Last time the three of us were there, the spread included fried chicken, sausage, brisket, beef ribs, pea salad, coleslaw, potato salad (Janice put gravy on it), boiled potatoes, green beans, okra, pinto beans, squash, corn, sweet potatoes, rolls and butter, gravy and peach cobbler.

Any wonder we’re stopping there for lunch?

As they claim,"If you want to have the experience of Thanksgiving in all its' wonderful, gluttonous glory, this is your place. Table atmosphere like family dinners, complete with passing dishes to friendly strangers, making idle chitchat and whatnot."

Buffalo Gap,

Population 467 in the 2010 census and home to the world-famous Perini Ranch.

Also host of the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit – extraordinary food and wine and the most amazing place in the world to Two-Step under the stars! We did that many years.

The tickets are almost impossible to come by, but you can get on the list!

Jack and Frank Buffalo Gap Food and Wine Summit 2014

Tom Perini recently demonstrated how to make his signature spice-rubbed Beef Tenderloin on The Rachel Ray TV show. We'll be having that and all the fixins' for dinner for sure. After, we’ll be roughing it in the guest quarters – rustic scenery and lots of wildlife at The Camp House.

Bright and early the next morning, we’ll head south toward the Texas Hill Country where the state flower of Texas, the Bluebonnet will be in full bloom.

Bluebonnet trivia for your next Jeopardy appearance - The shape of the petals on the flower resembles the bonnet worn by pioneer women to shield them from the sun.

Boerne (pronounced Bernie)

German roots run deep in Boerne. It is home to all sorts of folks - Mexican, Asian, Italian, German and Czech and food to match all tastes, plus two natural living caves: Cascade Caverns and Cave with a Name.

We may sample it all, but our main stop is a TINY HOUSE nearby on twenty-two acres that belongs to another one of my Texas Tech writing buddies, Donna Ingham and her husband.

Not only is my friend an author, she’s an award-winning storyteller. I have to be very careful around her; she is always searchin’ for stuff to spin!


Founded in 1846, there are many reasons to visit historic Fredericksburg in the Hill Country, the bluebonnets and the wineries, but this time I want to visit the LBJ Ranch and The National Museum of the Pacific War.

We'll definitely stop into Altdorf Biergarten here. What's not to like about German sausage, mustard, grilled onions and relish, pretzel buns and a beer? Hopefully, some live music!

San Antonio

The focal point of my tour where I’ll leave Janice and Frank with her sister, Judy, and gather with my pledge class – the Texas Gamma chapter of Pi Beta Phi, Texas Tech Class of 1962. Shirley always wins the prize for long distance - she comes from upstate New York; I'm a close second.

My friend, JoAnne Dobbs Hale, has once again created an agenda worthy of a concert tour, including El Mercado, a barge ride to Paesanos on the Riverwalk, guiltless shopping and endless storytelling.

And for me, another tour of The Alamo and a visit to the San Antonio Museum of Art where I hope to catch the gallery talk Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art.

Maybe I can talk the gang into going - after all we are Texas women!


Or right outside in Lakeway on Lake Travis I’m reconnecting with a friend I haven’t seen since we were freshman in college. (A bazillion bluebonnets-viewing ops on my drive from San Antonio)

Thanks to Facebook, we found one another last summer and have been pen pals ever since. She’s so darned funny and her life has been the polar opposite of mine. I have visions of telling the story of our parallel lives—two girls from Dallas— someday.

In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of catchin’ up to do during my April Fool’s Day visit. Hope to stop into the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center when I leave – or maybe she’ll take me there.


My last stop and it’s always such a treat to go there.

For thirty years I visited my parents there when Dad went to work with George H. W. Bush and his company, Zapata Petroleum Corp. They’re gone now, so my visits are quite different, mainly art related.

The Mark Rothko Chapel, perhaps my most favorite art destination in the world, is closed for renovations, so something new this time.

James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

Constructed of grass, concrete, stone and composite steel, this structure at Rice University is equipped with an LED light sequence that projects onto the ceiling and through an aperture in the 72-foot square knife-edge roof during sunrise and at sunset.

Visitor information says to get there ten minutes before sunset, which should be about seven-thirty, thanks to the time change.

They do have that there, don’t they?

My cousin, Gaynor, and I love to walk in Hermann Park and maybe we’ll visit the Noguchi Sculpture Garden at Houston’s Museum of Art.

We have a dinner reservation at State of Grace which bills itself as “Texas in another time. Game hangs from the wall; an oyster bar moons; elegant lighting, leather, brick and wood. Stop by. Say hello.”

In case you couldn't tell if you've read this far, my very guilty pleasure is returning to Texas. I love all things Texas, especially the people even though I’ve been away for decades.

There are such good reasons to "go home..."

I feel more grounded...more centered...and not so alone. It's a bit perplexing to me how that can be.

In San Diego and Pauma Valley, I am surrounded by attentive children, not-so-attentive grandchildren and more loving friends than anyone deserves.

But, there’s something magical about old friends and the familiar surroundings where you grew up. I LOVE Texas...much more at this point in my life than ever before.

I’m thinking this trip back home is gonna’ be like O. Henry once said,

"I went to Texas and ran wild on her prairies..."

Stay tuned y'all.


Great Texas Tour , I might have to go back home to try and check my ‘lonely’ meter! Somehow I don’t think Moose Jaw has the same ring as  Dallas! How about a map with all your stops, what you ate and the Art you saw etc etc. so we can actualize your time away from this home! Im a little envious of your energy level but I know your going to two step your way across the map with your usual fine tuned Marilyn swagger!🥂🌈 Safe Home, mpr.

Happy trails to you....🎵🎵🎵


Wish I could be a mole in your suitcase. It sounds like a wonderful trip! Have fun, be safe. xoxo

Marilyn.... you’re the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew!! I loved your story!! Looking forward to reading your book!! One of your fans!! Jg

That was such a fun read!!! I’ve never been to Texas, but now I really want to go.

We are anxiously waiting to hear when we can buy your book!!! Please let us know asap!!

xxx Jill

Your Texas piece is the best one yet.  And we have love of Rothko Chapel in common‼️So glad you are sharing your Texas travels‼️😁‼️❤️

Sounds like a great trip through Texas. So glad you are going to Buffalo Gap. That is very near were I visited my Grandparents every summer in Quitaque, TX. We even have a friend that has written a musical folk opera that was preformed at the Wortham Theatre about Buffalo Gap. I still live in Houston and would love to see you if there is any chance for a visit. When When are you going to be in Houston?   I looked for your book on Amazon but didn’t find it. Maybe I had the title wrong. I really enjoy your blog. I know you have really enjoyed your granddaughter. Mine are such a joy.

Fred and I lived in Texas for a few years and have some very fond memories of our experiences while there.  We were always struck by the friendliness  of the Texans we met.  The best part of Texas as far as we are concerned.  We still have friends in Austin and Dallas and I have connections with SMU if contacting them in some way would be helpful, let me know.  Best wishes for a successful launch of your book. Joanne

Your Texas piece is the best one yet.  And we have love of Rothko Chapel in common‼️So glad you are sharing your Texas travels‼️😁‼️❤️

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I'll be wearing my boots til you get back. Have a great trip. Bring back stories and maybe some of those ribs from that family-style place in Sweetwater.


This trip sounds glorious!! I may copy your itinerary one day. But the only people I know there are my ex and his wife. Lol


Mar 08, 2020

I'm staying tuned and can't wait to hear all about it.


Sounds like a great trip! Have a grand time.

By the way, when will your book arrive. I would count the days if I knew. Can't wait!!!!!

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