Texans definitely have a swagger. Even if you spoke to no one and only observed the signs, you'd still get a sense of their confidence.
In addition to this colorful warning at a rest area, scores of no-litter signs proclaim, "Don't mess with Texas."
I even saw a sign on a desert highway in the panhandle that said simply: "MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE."
Don't think a Texan is gonna come bail out your behind!
With less than a thousand year-round residents and an economy based largely on tourism, Bandera is the self-proclaimed "cowboy capitol of the world."
Bandera resident Jon Curry, a musician, has a way with words to go along with his style.
"In most tourist towns, there is a sense that it's orchestrated or contrived," he tells me in a born-and-raised Texan drawl. "But here there is a palpable genuineness seldom found elsewhere."
About his outfit: "It's really just a pair of blue jeans and boots."
Though on closer inspection, we counted six layers, which qualifies as deliberate dressing, in my book.
Like this couple making their way across the Guadeloupe River, near Center Point
As evidenced by Doug Northern's fair food
Like the Alamo, which reminds visitors "never to surrender nor retreat"
In the way purposely nonconforming Austin juxtaposes its artsy stores and restaurants with a glistening modern skyline
As the changing winter sky above endless miles of ranch land
The way only a trip to downtown San Antonio at Christmastime could be
I solicited travel advice from jeweler Meredith Ott at a Christmas craft fair in downtown Comfort, a small town in the picturesque hill country region of Texas.
Ott has a home in Canyon Lake, northest of San Antionio, but travels the craft fair circuit much of the year in a Volkswagen pop-top camper with her cats.
"I love the Texas hill country in winter and Colorado in summer," she says. "I have a rule: when there is frost on my little port-a-potty, it's time to come back to Texas."
Ever had a Mexican egg roll? Neither had I until I happened into Conchita's Mexican Cafe in sleepy downtown Kerrville, population 22,000.
The crunchy shell wrapped around chicken and avocado, with a delicate green sauce on top is the creation of owner Theresa Womack.
"I love to create – every day something new," she says.
Her inspiration is grandmother Conchita Garza, who at 18 moved from Mexico City to San Antonio. There Conchita met her husband and the pair settled in Kerrville, where she lived to be 101.
"We were always in the kitchen. She always had her hand in the skillet," says Womack of her grandmother.
"Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) – that was her deal.
"I remember grandpa eating frijoles (beans) with grandma's thick tortillas and then wiping his face with them."