Have You Handled a Texas Almanac Lately?I picked one up for the first time at the Texas History Museum yesterday afternoon and have barely put it down since. I had it (wrongly) in my mind that Almanacs are things for farmers, things of the past, something antiquated. No one handed me a copy when I drove in from out of state, and it's not like it was in my basket from the neighborhood welcoming committee (all they wanted, actually, was the voluntary $40 owners' association dues) when I bought my house.
Why You Need a Texas AlmanacWe went to the Texas History Museum on Congress and MLK in downtown Austin specifically to look at books about Texas history. I expected to find a few, but found a ton, most of which were either tomes about war heroes, famous battles or politicians. I have Lone Star: a History of Texas and the Texans on order from Amazon, 792 pages worth, to be delivered on Monday, so was looking for a little pre-meal snack, a little book maybe about the history of Austin, or of a historic neighborhood, something maybe with a lot of pictures. Instead, we went home with 2 fold-out laminated wildflower and tree reference guides, the Austin Insiders' Guide and the 2010 to 2011 Texas Almanac. Here is what makes it WAY COOL:
689 pages, jam-packed with Texas facts. 1/2 to 1 pages on each county, including a small full-color map with major roads, cities, towns, lakes and other stuff marked, AND a little color map of Texas that shows where the county is located. The county pages have little blurbs about the local economy, population, recreation, minerals, education and agriculture. 2-page fold-out map of Texas Lakes, with the flip side mapping Texas State Parks, Sites and Piers. Another 2-page fold out with mileage distances between cities, and a flip-side larger map of the state with all sorts of goodies marked: roads, county lines, bodies of water, parks, etc. The beginning of the Texas Almanac has a brief sketch of the History of Texas, followed by all sort of full-color maps that show different ways Texas is divided or classified: cultural regions, Texas Parks & Wildlife's Travel Regions, State Comptroller's Economic Regions, etc. Another section summarizes the Geology of Texas, Earthquakes, Soils and Texas Weather. As you near the end, hundreds of pages of interesting bit of data, even more Texas facts, photos, statistics and so on, you even get Texas maps of wet/dry (alcohol) counties, and profiles of correctional institutions as a reminder of why crime does NOT pay, even less so in Texas.