By Rob Hodges, THC Social Media Coordinator
“If you won a contest offering a free trip to the Texas heritage region of your choice, where would you go? Would you visit a familiar locale to enjoy your favorite sites? Or would you tour an undiscovered area to learn something new?”
So begins the travel article in the Summer 2014 issue of The Medallion, “Tropical Trail Tour: THC Contest Winner Explores Colorful Borderland Region.” The article chronicles the journey as sweepstakes winner Jim Clark traveled to heritage destinations in Harlingen, Brownsville, McAllen, Mission, Roma, Rio Grande City, Falfurrias, and Kingsville.
I recently caught up with Clark, a native of Clarksville and descendant of its founding family, to get his thoughts on his “choose your own adventure” experience. Here’s what he had to say:
How did you find out about the Texas Time Travel Sweepstakes?
I read about it on Facebook.
Do you remember your first thoughts when you found out you had won?
When I got the email, I wondered if it was for real or some Internet hoax. Then I remembered I had entered that sweepstakes, so maybe I really did win. Then I spoke with you and confirmed that I did indeed win.
Why did you choose to travel in the Texas Tropical Trail Region, or more specifically, the Rio Grande Valley and King Ranch?
I chose that area of Texas because I had never traveled to that area. Visiting the King Ranch was on my bucket list.
Prior to visiting, did you have any preconceived notions of what the area might be like?
I really didn’t have any preconceived notions of the area. I had read of the area. As with other areas of our state, I expected that the people would be friendly.
Were those expectations met when you traveled in the region?
The expectations of friendliness were indeed true. Everyone we encountered went above and beyond to make the tour a great experience.
What was the most surprising thing you learned during the sweepstakes tour?
I learned the importance of the Rio Grande in earlier days, and I had no idea of the amount of traffic that had previously been on the river.
Is there a favorite attraction among the many you visited during the tour?
The afternoon at the King Ranch stands out as my favorite attraction; however, everything that we visited was unique and very enjoyable.
What was your favorite day?
I must say that I didn’t have a particularly “favorite” day. Each day was filled with different attractions, restaurants, people, etc.
If you could go back and stay longer in one city, which would it be and why?
I enjoyed the aspect of staying on-the-go and seeing as much as we could on the tour. But I might like to return to Kingsville and explore some more.
How do the cities you visited compare to your own?
Rio Grande City probably most compares to my hometown of Clarksville in that they are working to preserve their history and spread the news of historical tourism. [Both are designated communities in the Texas Main Street Program.]
When the sweepstakes trip comes up in conversation, what story do you most often tell about it?
Everyone wants to hear about the tour on the Segway!
If the THC were to offer this or a similar prize package in the future, what advice would you give to the organizers?
Really none, the tour was perfectly organized with a variety of adventures.
To the prize winner?
Be prepared for some fun-filled days, to meet some great Texans and learn about our state, and more specifically, the geographic area that you choose.
What’s next on your travel agenda?
I’m traveling to England and France with family.
Thanks, Jim! It was an honor to meet you, and wonderful to explore the Texas Tropical Trail Region with you.
To see additional photos from the sweepstakes tour that were not featured in the print version of the travel article, check out this web extra set.
Click on any image to view the photo gallery.