I’ve been living in this area for three years now, and I never get tired of seeing the landscape when I am driving east on U.S. Highway 190/Interstate 14 or south on State Highway 195. The ranches, rolling hills and high bluffs unencumbered by progress give me a feeling of what it might have been like before Central Texas was discovered for the paradise it is.
Our area is rich in parks, forests, lakes and pools, which makes keeping cool in the Texas heat a little easier. From splash pads and swimming pools, to water sports and fishing on one of our many lakes, Bell County offers activities for kids of all ages.
This month city pools, water parks and splash pads in Copperas Cove, Killeen, Harker Heights, Temple and Belton are in full swing as families find their own way to beat the heat. Pack a picnic lunch, water bottles, hats, sunglasses and sun screen before heading out to one of the many facilities where you can cool off during the Central Texas summer, Page 24.
Last year Bell County lakes and campgrounds were closed for repair due to the flooding experienced in 2015. Since then, the Army Corps of Engineers has repaired nearly 100 percent of all recreational areas with the exception of Sparta Lake Park on Belton Lake in Temple. For now, this is the only park that remains indefinitely closed. But hikers, picnickers, boaters, swimmers and campers, your favorite spot on Stillhouse Hollow Lake and Belton Lake is open, including boat ramps, Page 42.
There are several bass fishing clubs in Bell County that welcome novices and experienced anglers. And it isn’t just for men. Women are bass fishing on their own or with their partners through organizations like the Texas Bass Couples Tournament Trail. Meet Charlie Gantenbein and Wendy Randolph who fish together, and individually, in different Tournament trails around Central Texas, Page 34.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sail across the sea on a great ocean liner like the Queen Mary, now docked as a hotel in Long Beach, Calif.? Come aboard the Queen Mary 2 with Belton residents and world travelers Bob and Linda Bilec, who took a transatlantic cruise to Southampton, England, to visit their daughter and her family. The ship didn’t disappoint them with its retro elegance to another time when people dressed for dinner then danced the foxtrot and waltz across a ballroom floor, Page 12.
Going retro seems to be a theme these days from sailing ships to community general stores. Meet Eric and Brandi Warren of Troy. They have revived the town general store with a twist. They sell farm-to-table locally grown organic produce, grass fed beef, milk with the cream on top, and homemade lunches made from ethically grown or raised ingredients, along with other numerous made-in-Texas items. Locals can enjoy a cold natural soda, craft brew or coffee before heading out to the shaded Biergarten for live music on Friday nights, Page 50.
For your next Tex Adventure day trip, drive south on U.S. Highway 281 to RR 962 East in Round Top and follow the signs to Westcave Preserve, “a 76-acre Shangri-La hidden in the limestone hills 30 miles west of Austin.” Author Fred Afflerbach said it is referred to as the “Crown Jewel” of the Texas Hill Country. The preserve offers trails to hikers of all levels as well as docent-led hikes for groups of 25. The Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center is both a visitors and educational center for the community, Page 58.
Wherever you are, take a break, pour yourself a glass of your favorite ice cold summer beverage and enjoy the June issue of Tex Appeal Magazine.