June 2005 MedBytes: Texas Getaways

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Summer is almost here, the kids are out of school, and unless the price of gasoline has reached $3 a gallon by now, it's a perfect time of year to think about hitting the road. This month's Medbytes offers a few suggestions for places to visit if you can swing a little time away from your practice.

The Dallas Farmers Market
The nationally recognized Dallas Farmers Market is one of the few places in the country where farmers sell their crops directly to customers. Located in the southeastern corner of the central business district in downtown at 1010 S. Pearl St., the market provides patrons with opportunities to shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and specialty and international products. This is the 12th year of great cooking classes taught by local chefs who demonstrate their favorite dishes inspired by fresh produce from the market. The market's site,  www.dallasfarmersmarket.org, provides cooking class schedules, information about meeting spaces, and a calendar of upcoming events. The Dallas Farmers Market is open from 7 am to 6 pm Sunday through Saturday.

Texas Folklife Festival
Now in its 34th year, the Texas Folklife Festival at The University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio is a four-day, fun-filled cultural celebration that showcases Texas' diversity through an assortment of ethnic foods, diverse music and dance, arts and crafts, artisan demonstrations, storytellers, competitions, and more. The event is June 9-12 and is located in downtown San Antonio on the 22-acre grounds of the Institute of Texan Cultures in HemisFair Park. More than 10,000 people representing 64 counties and 99 cities throughout the state attend to participate in this cultural celebration. Go to  http://www.texancultures.com/  for ticket information and directions.

World Birding Center
The Rio Grande Valley has long been recognized as a world-class birding destination. Visitors from across the nation visit the Valley to explore the richest birding area north of the Mexican border in hopes of spotting "Valley specialties" -- birds found nowhere else in the United States and rare bird visitors from across the Rio Grande. The center is a network of nine sites dotted along 120 miles of river road from South Padre Island west to Roma, with habitats ranging from dry chaparral brush and verdant riverside thickets to freshwater marshes and coastal wetlands. The newly constructed visitor's center has a bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibit hall, gift shop, coffee bar, meeting room, and administrative offices -- all of which are surrounded by butterfly gardens and hummingbird feeders. Visitors can take a transportation shuttle, ride bikes, or walk through the park. Go to  www.tpwd.state.tx.us/worldbirdingcenter  for upcoming events, directions, and park tours. 

Dubbed the best water park in America by the Travel Channel, Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels has been keeping visitors cooled off since 1979. Back then, the park consisted of four water slides built around a 60-foot-tall replica off the Bergfried Tower, the guard tower of the Solms Castle in Braunfels, Germany. Today it has grown to more than 40 rides and family activities in six areas, including three uphill water coasters, nine tube chutes, and 17 water slides. The park's Web site,  www.schlitterbahn.com, showcases an e-tour of popular park activities, allows online ticket purchases, and provides information about the park's dates and times of operation. There is also information about Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark on South Padre Island, which opened in 2001.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Named after Texas' 38th lieutenant governor and former state comptroller, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, in downtown Austin, tells the "Story of Texas" with three floors of interactive exhibits; the special effects show, The Star of Destiny , in the Texas Spirit Theatre; and Austin's only IMAX Theatre. The museum contains 34,000 square feet of permanent exhibits featuring more than 700 artifacts on loan in constant rotation.  Other museum amenities include a 200-seat indoor/outdoor cafe, a Texas Fair-themed store, and the Destination Texas History Texas Museum database, a free service that provides computer stations with access to a database of 530 museums and historical sites across Texas. The museum's site, www.thestoryoftexas.com, provides a listing of upcoming events, information about current IMAX features, and the opportunity to sign up for the museum's new e-newsletter.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, email erin.prather@texmed.org. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  

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