Eastbound through Eastland

Big Bend Day 6

Eastland, TX, by Brian Aldaco

As we headed out on the last leg of our journey, we were lured in by the charm of a small, charismatic town along the way. If you are traveling from Abilene to Dallas on highway 20, as we were, you will surely come across the little town of Eastland, TX. As we entered the city, Professor Yawn was quick at pointing out the multiple murals scattered around the town. He then explained how the city is filled with murals which are done by community members and students from the local high school, to represent history’s most famous painters and culturally educate Eastland’s citizens.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Eastland TX, Jackson Pollock

In total, there are 30 such murals in the city. Among the artists represented on the city’s walls were Dr. Seuss, Michelangelo, Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jasper Johns. As we searched through Eastland’s streets, we felt accomplished when we were able to recognize the artist that were being represented by the murals. (All this time of visiting art museums has paid off!).

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Eastland TX, Gustav Klimt

Since we did not have as much time as we would have liked, we were only able to only spot 21 murals on our artistic scavenger hunt. However, this was an amazing feat for us and we appreciated the pieces of art that we were able to find.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Eastland TX, Andy Warhol

But this art hunt was not the only thing that made our Eastland visit memorable. Before initiating our activity, we visited the town’s courthouse in the heart of downtown. Professor Yawn, a near expert in Texas stories, educated us on a brief history of Eastland. Upon construction of the town’s courthouse in 1897, a time capsule was inserted in the building’s cornerstone. Intrigued by the alleged immortality of the horned toad (it is said that it can survive for years in hibernation) the towns people included one of these mystical creatures in the time capsule. Nearly 30 years later when the city was working on maintenance of the courthouse in 1928, they decided to take a look at their reptilian friend. The legend goes, that as they opened the capsule, they saw the “dead” toad reviving before their very eyes with a clear sounding “Ribbit”! The powers of the horned toad were proven true!

Due to its impressive feat of indestructibility, the toad was celebrated by town and baptized Old Rip, after Washington Irving’s character Rip Van Winkle. Old Rip’s celebrity status escalated to such a degree that the toad toured the nation and was even received by President Calvin Coolidge. Sadly, the cherished lizard perished of pneumonia in 1929. But the city never forgot this amazing creature. Now, Old Rip’s eternal home is a lizard size coffin behind a glass window of the courthouse, where any community member or tourist can pay tribute to this exceptional city treasure.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Eastland TX, Ol' RipOld Rip has never been forgotten and he has  many statues that are proudly displayed throughout the city as a homage to him.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Eastland TX, Ol' Rip

Twisted Root in Dallas, by Kaitlyn Tyra

The last part of the West Texas Tour included a fair amount of driving. However, we broke up the long journey with various stops along the way. One of which being a late lunch at the Twisted Root Burger Co. A unique burger joint, the menu included milkshakes, twisted burgers, and a variety of sides.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Twisted Root, Milkshake

Twisted Root is known for their homemade root beer which was sweet and flavorful. We sampled the root beer, the Fat Elvis milkshake, and the Oreo Cookie milkshake before our meals were served. We each sampled a different burger: the freshman 15, the spicy goat, the verde, the enough said, and the big tex burger.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Twisted Root, Milkshake

The burgers were delicious and massive which left us feeling full as we departed for the Dallas Art Museum.

Dallas Museum of Art, by Christina Perez

Before heading back to Huntsville, we took one last LEAP into art. During the trip, we discussed different artists whom the LEAP ambassadors could name. Some of us can name about 35 different artists now!

When we arrived at the Dallas Museum of Art, we were anxious to see what great art pieces that we would get to see.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Dallas Museum of Art, Mark di Suvero

The museum had the “Visions of America” exhibit, which included three centuries of American art, culled from the National Gallery of Art, which is located in Washington, DC.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Dallas Museum of Art, Claes Oldenburg

This exhibit was from the National Gallery of art, which is located in DC. The Leap ambassadors will be traveling to DC in October, so this was a sneak peek to our art exploration that would later take place in Washington.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Dallas Museum of Art,

We all left the museum with an increased knowledge of art…

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Dallas Museum of Art, Pablo Picasso

…and a couple of new big names!

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, SHSU, Dallas Museum of Art, Roy Lichtenstein

After a long journey, our West Texas Tour Trip was finally over. Now all the LEAP ambassadors learned and experimented with photography alongside Mark Burns, gained knowledge of art, and traveled to places were not many people had before. It was finally time to go home not only to Huntsville, but also to Sam Houston State University for the first day of school.


A Last Day in Dallas

After a roller-coaster weekend at UNT Law, we had a half of a day left in Dallas before returning to SHSU.  We decided to use it by having a little fun and enjoying good food.

We could have had both in Klyde Warren Park, one of Dallas’s newest success stories.  Known as the “front lawn of the arts district: for its proximity to the arts district, the park provides an interesting 5-acre public space for families to enjoy a morning or afternoon.  It also has a ring of food trucks, offering fare of every kind, making it a great place for a group as diverse as ours to go.  But because we like to explore, we had our fun at Klyde Warren Park, before moving elsewhere for lunch.

There are large green spaces at Klyde Warren, with a .45-mile walking trail around it.  Along the trail or mini-recreation areas: a kids’ park, a board-game station, a reading library station,

a putting green, a Foosball table, and an amphitheater.  The amphitheater can be used for bands and such at night, but is used for yoga at 10am daily.  The day we were there, almost 100 people were participating in the yoga relaxation/exercise techniques.

But our primary purpose was to throw the frisbee around, and we soon learned who could catch.

Austin_Frisbee_2_WebAustin, for example, can catch.  In the picture above, notice the Jordanesque-shadow. Of course, he played college football until this year, so we expected him to be athletic.

Austin_Frisbee_WebAs it turns out, though, Kaitlyn Tyra can also catch, and she may be a dark-horse for our Spring 2015 Charity Football game.

Professor Yawn is getting up there in age, but we let him play because he grades us.


We think Megan can catch,  but we aren’t really sure.  She had a strict rule to only move one step in any direction, which earned her the name “One-Step Chapa.”  Here she is impersonating a stork.

Megan_Frisbee_WebBut the day wasn’t particularly intense for any of us.

Park_Frisbee_WebNotice the halo over Professor Yawn’s head.

Following some more fun, we had to call it a day at the park…


…and return to the hotel.  As we preparing to check out, the hotel went dark.  The electricity went out.  The LEAP Center Ambassadors pride themselves on adaptability, but this was difficult for Constance Gabel, who was stuck in the hotel elevator.  The fire department was called…


…and Constance was extricated from the hotel elevator.

Just in time for us to eat at Twisted Root, a restaurant that specializes in burgers and root beer.  Their burgers are wonderful, and their root beer is interesting.  The flavor of the day was “Irish Creme Root Beer,” which was better than the root beer from the last time we were there: Grape Root Beer.  Of course, that was better than their “Coconut Root Beer.”  Their regular root beer is excellent.  And their burgers are great.

Twisted_Root_Burger_WebOne of the interesting aspects of their restaurant is that, when you order, they provide you with a name from popular culture as your signal that your burger is ready.  In our group, we had Eva Mendes (Kaitlyn), Serena Williams (Beatriz), Apollo Creed (Austin, of course), Matlock (Yawn), Mike Modano (Brian Aldaco), and others.  It was interesting to see who knew which references, a process that led Austin to say, “Son, you need to watch more television” to one of the newer members.

With a general consensus that Twisted Root is a good place to lunch, we allowed Constance one more groupie for the weekend…

Groupie_Twisted_Root…and headed home.

But not for rest and relaxation!  The week ahead involved our weekly meeting (Monday), a law-school application workshop (Wednesday), a Moot Court Practice (Thursday), a volunteer meeting (Thursday), the showing of Nosferatu (Thursday, whew), a Mock LSAT (Saturday), and a volunteer event (Saturday).

More to come!