GLEN ROSE – There are people who take mammoth vacations. You know – long-distance, see-y’all-next-month vacations.
A former coworker saved his money to attend European soccer matches about once a year in scenic places like Austria and England. Another former coworker, whose family moved to Texas from South Vietnam, made a number of trips to Asia.
On the other end of the spectrum there are people like me, who rarely take trips of any notable length.
I just don’t get out much, at least for pure vacations. I enjoy going to sporting events or concerts – but usually no farther away than Dallas. I wasn’t the originator of the term “staycation." But it fits me.
I’ve averaged driving my 2010 vehicle just 15,000 miles per year. A long vacation, for me, is a drive to Houston to watch my Astros play baseball.
I’m just not very curious, nor ambitious, as a traveler.
A dream trip for me would be to Branson, Missouri to see Roy Clark or Crystal Gayle perform.
Anything beyond that is out of my comfort zone. I like the convenience of home.
Having said that, I can now admit I’ve never visited the extraordinary tourist sites in Somervell County. I’ve 15 miles away since late 2009, so I have no real excuse. Shame on me.
As they say, “It’s not you, Somervell County — it’s me.”
I plan to change that. Here are a few of the great adventure spots right here in our Glen Rose/Somervell County backyard that I plan on experiencing sooner than later.
The Promise, Texas Amphitheatre, 5000 Texas Drive
I had heard bits of information about The Promise for years before I learned what it was all about.
This two-act musical program about the life of Jesus Christ features almost 100 cast members performing at the Texas Amphitheater in Glen Rose. It’s the largest permanent outdoor amphitheater in Texas.
The elaborate musical performances are boosted by a 15,000-watt sound system for the three-level amphitheater, which has an overall seating capacity of 5,000.
This is the 28th season for The Promise in Glen Rose – and marks the return of its first director, Michael Meece. It began Sept. 2 and continues each Friday and Saturday night through Oct. 29 (shows start at 8 p.m.).
For tickets, call the box office at 254-897-3926.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, 2299 County Road 2008
The fascinating animals get to see approximately 200,000 visitors come through each year, and the nonprofit 501(c)3 center has more than 46,000 Facebook followers. That’s according to Tye Chandler, marketing associate for the Wildlife Center.
Visitors can take guided tours (booked in advance by calling 254-897-2960), or drive through on their own. It typically takes between 2 and 4 hours.
Memberships are available, giving you the opportunity to visit as often as you want.
The center, with 1,800 acres of land for the animals, contains carnivores such as cheetahs and three species of wolves. Hoofstock include stately giraffes, zebras, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, wildebeests, bongos, sables and various types of deer.
And that’s just a start.
Native species include American bison, roadrunners, wild turkeys, jackrabbits, armadillos and white-tailed deer.
The Children’s Animal Center is sure to get your goat. It features African pygmy goats, Anglo-nubian goats, boer goats, La Mancha goats and Nigerian dwarf goats. There are also tortoises, cockatoos, macaws, parrots, and even Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs.
Dinosaur Valley State Park, 1629 Park Road 59
Here you can find more than 5,000 dinosaur tracks, more than 100 million years old, fossilized in a limestone-mud mixture in the Paluxy River bed.
Floods can uncover even more tracks, according to park ranger and interpreter Kathy Lenz.
As many as 175,000 people visit the state park each year.
Before long, they will be able to add me to that list.
There are campsites, and 20 miles of trails. It’s open 365 days a year, except for two special weeklong Texas Parks & Wildlife deer hunting sessions set aside in November and January. The park’s headquarters is open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
The site took a hit in 1939 — but also gained worldwide notoriety.
That was when paleontologist Roland T. Bird removed segments of dino tracks totaling about 100 feet long. They ended up in various museums across the country, and the Glen Rose dinosaur tracks became a Life magazine cover story.
“You can still see the scars from that,” one park employee said of Bird’s track removal. “The main portion is in New York. There is one that has never been uncrated at the Smithsonian.”
People from all over the world — including Russia, Japan, India, Italy, Israel, Australia and England — have visited the park.