If a long, out of state vacation isn't in the cards for you in the midst of your summer travel planning, perhaps a short road trip could be a great compromise. There's nothing like the feeling of being on the wide open road and enjoying the grand beauty of the Texas Hill Country with the windows down, especially if you make it out early enough to watch the sun rise on the drive.

Cycle Trader, a classifieds sites for motorcycles, named The Twisted Sisters outside San Antonio as one of the best routes in their recent "Top Destinations for Your Next Motorcycle Road Trip" report. The Twisted Sisters spans about 130 miles along Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337 with dozens of bends, drops, and inclines to keep drivers on their toes the entire time.

While on the drive, Cycle Trader suggests making a few stops to fully immerse in the Hill Country culture.

"Along the way get some barbecue, pay a visit to the Lost Maples State Natural Area, and get up to date on your motorcycle history at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum," the report says.

If you want to turn the drive into a day trip, consider adding the Devil's Sinkhole Natural State Area to your list of stops, and if you decide to stay overnight, the Historic Leakey Inn isn't too far away.

The route isn't exclusive to just motorcycles, four-wheeled vehicles are also welcome, but you'll likely need to be more alert about your surroundings. Most importantly, make sure the gas tank is full before embarking on the drive.

Motorcycle rental and tour company EagleRider provided some advice for drivers considering a Twisted Sisters trip.

"Be forewarned that some of the blind curves are unexpectedly sharp, making you feel like you’ve been snapped by a slingshot," EagleRider said. "Have fun, yet ride with caution as this is purely ranch country. There are cattle guards in between ranches, not to mention free-range cattle and deer. Plus there might be ranchers moving slowly in their pickups."

The Twisted Sisters was the only Texas route included in Cycle Trader's report. Several other well-known routes were chosen across every region in the United States.

Other prominent road trip routes include:

  • The Pacific Coast Highway
  • The Tail of the Dragon
  • Montana Highway 200
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • U.S. Route 1
  • Route 66
The full list of best destinations for motorcycle road trips can be found on cycletrader.com.
Photo by Dario on Unsplash

New self-serve electric vehicle rental at the San Antonio Airport is great for drivers who pay attention

the future of rentals

Visitors to San Antonio now have an easy and environmentally friendly way to get around. UFO Drive, a rental company with an all-electric fleet, has "landed" in Alamo City, according to a release, and is ready to beam renters up — as long as they give 48-hour notice.

Cars can be picked up from the San Antonio International Airport "or anywhere within the TX Loop 410," made easy by a remote process that walks users through the pickup process on their phones. The service is completely contactless, which comes in handy for travelers who don't want to wait in lines, hear long spiels, or visit during office hours.

The down side, as detailed in this overall favorable review of an Austin-to-Houston trip, is really up to the user: Can you pay attention to the how-to emails, or do you need someone there to show you the ropes?

The following has been reproduced from CultureMap Austin, as published on February 1, 2023.

This Tesla rental service got me from Austin to Houston, despite my best efforts:
Reader, my car was stolen. I know that’s not a cool note to start on, but it’s the truth. A few months ago, my white Hyundai Elantra was recovered on Ben White Boulevard with an egregiously ugly, half-finished paint job and a deathly rattle in the engine. This put me in a vulnerable position, not just for getting around (thanks, CapMetro), but for falling in love with cars way outside my price range.

UFODrive (stylized UFODRIVE), a self-service car rental company with an all-electric fleet, must have sensed my predicament, because a publicist probed my inbox with an offer to borrow a sleek Tesla X or Y for a weekend trip. The timing couldn't have been better, and not just for my Austin transport needs, but because the CultureMap Austin team had a Houston meeting to attend — an excellent excuse to hop in a new ride and try out the service.

This rental company has seven locations in the United States, but only one in Texas so far, meaning round trips would be necessary to return the car. (The website does not allow a multi-city return, even if you’re up for a very long drive.) Previously exclusive to Europe, the company's United States leg is catching up. Their website boasts 20 million “clean miles” driven by renters, and more than 2 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions saved.

Ideals aside, the most obvious draw to this kind of service — the self-service exchange — held up, although it does present its own challenges. Everything happens through the UFODrive app. Pickup and drop-off were easy with no lines, no salespeople, and most importantly, 24/7 service. The downside, for a chaotic traveler, is everything takes some time to figure out if you don’t read everything very carefully (a simple solution, really, but easier said than done.)

Nothing was confusing for more than a few minutes. The phone app locks, unlocks, and starts the car. It only took a few tries to realize the vehicle turns itself off automatically when in park with no one inside. Everything from the online booking to reporting pre-existing damage was an easy step-by-step form. (The car was immaculate, anyway.)

My biggest problem was learning how to operate a Tesla Y on intuition alone — I wouldn’t have needed rental agency staff to teach me about just about any gas-powered vehicle, but I would have liked to get a quick rundown for my first time operating this sleek spacecraft. Maybe a more tech-inclined driver wouldn’t have taken a full minute to figure out how to put the thing in drive. I wouldn’t know; there wasn't one available.

Thankfully, these machines are intuitive once a driver starts trusting the "push buttons and find out" technique, although we never did find cruise control. The only time we almost faced a consequence for this improvisational approach was when I looked at the battery upon entering Houston and saw we were at 1 percent — an awful, single digit number I did not think we’d creep up on for another hundred miles. The low-battery notification had gone to my email, unnoticed during the drive.

The UFODrive app first took me to a charger that was out of service, and I’m glad I thought to check the vehicle’s dashboard screen for my second try. The car displayed not just charging stations, but their status, including how many bays were left and whether or not they were in service. After an incoming call from a well-meaning UFODrive employee who saw my low battery but could not possibly know where every charger in Houston was, I ended up backing into a charging station at 1 percent battery.

Charging — the act, itself — was very easy. UFODrive handles the whole thing and covers the fee, so it’s as simple as plugging in, waiting, and driving away. Having seen the detail on the dashboard screen about chargers (as well as a notification when we were about to leave range), I would feel confident booking a longer trip through the service.

And for my fellow roadtrippers, I'd just encourage a thorough read of the emailed materials — or at least this laundry list of minor snags. Fill out the forms early, check emails often, and put in just a few minutes of planning to keep charging smooth and convenient. An organized traveler may make it to Houston with a shining track record of no awkward moments at all.

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Wildlife advocacy tour treks to San Antonio's spectacular land bridge


Like many innovations promised by Midcentury America's rush to modernity, the highway system was proposed, plotted, and built with little thought to ecological impact. For wildlife, the shift to private transport was particularly deadly. By some estimates, car collisions kill over a million vertebrate animals daily.

The solution borrows from the transportation playbook, equipping roadways with overpasses and tunnels that connect habitats and allow animals access to resources on the other side of the road. One need not drive very far to witness their impact. Hundreds of deer, possums, and rabbits use San Antonio's Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge each day.

The Tobin Land Bridge opened as the United States' largest wildlife crossing in December 2020. In spring of 2021, a spectacular elevated walkway called the Skywalk debuted.

The Northwest San Antonio land bridge is now getting national attention through Wildlife Crossings Across America, a promotional road trip meant to highlight the structure's invaluable role in protecting local ecosystems. The advocacy tour lands in San Antonio on September 17.

The tour is a joint initiative by the National Wildlife Federation's #SaveLACougars Campaign, Big Cat Voices, ARC Solutions, and the Wildlife Crossing Fund. Environmental advocates, photojournalists, and authors will join local officials at each stop to document wildlife crossings at work.

The visits will be blogged on the Save LA Cougars website, and via the Instagram and Facebook accounts devoted to the now-deceased P-22 Mountain Lion. The big cat became the darling of Hollywood when it was first identified in 2012 and the poster puma for the pioneering Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing in Los Angeles.

The hope is to build pressure for more wildlife-friendly infrastructure — initiatives that prevent costly crashes and make cities more adaptable to the climate crisis.

"Saving wildlife amidst a growing biodiversity crisis and rapidly changing climate demands 21st-century solutions," said environmental journalist and author Sharon Guynup, one of the tour's fellows. "Connecting habitat bisected by roadways is key: animals need to move in order to survive."

Historic, haunted San Antonio inn lifts the veil for paranormal weekend

Spooky or skeptical

There's something in the San Antonio air as the seasons change. Be it spirits or just a much needed cold front, one spooky inn is making sure locals get to revel in it. The San Antonio Paranormal Fest has crept in on the fog once again at Victoria's Black Swan Inn, for a weekend of festivities from September 15-17.

A fall festival at an inn may sound quaint until attendees see the long list of offerings organized in partnership with Curious Twins Paranormal & Ghost Tours: Tours of the haunted inn with resident psychic readings; an artisan market, open bar, snacks, and food trucks; onsite photography and photo booth; fire performers, speakers, and more spellcasting goodness.

This event will be a real who's-who of paranormal life in San Antonio — not just people who love a gothy aesthetic, but people who have devoted time and expertise to learning more about these otherwordly phenomena. Jo Ann Marks-Rivera, who both owns and lives in the house, shares stories with the community about the house's history and the strange things she's seen there.

"I always look forward to bringing as many people together as I can to share experiences regarding all of the mysteries of the Paranormal field," Marks-Rivera writes in to CultureMap. "Death and what happens to us after has long been an interest to people. I have the privilege to be a part of what has now become a full fledged field of investigation, not just a shadowy question of the impossible."

Speakers at the festival (as listed on the event's Facebook page) include:

  • Producer, Author & Paranormal Investigator, Ryan Buell: Host of the TV A&E show Paranormal State and executive producer for the feature film, American Ghost Hunter
  • Psychic Medium Sarah Lemos: Featured on Ghosts of Morgan City, The Ghost Town Terror, and Portals To Hell
  • Cryptozoologist & Author Ken Gearhart (@therealkengerhard): Featured on Ancient Aliens, Legend Hunters, The Unexplained Files, True Monsters, and more
  • Demonologist & Paranormal Investigator, James Annito
  • Ghost Box Experts & Owners of Magick Moon Metaphysical, Chris & Dee Moon (@mooniepix & @deeparanormal321)
  • Afterlife Connection Specialist & Intuitive, Tracy St. Croi: Host of The Haunted Road Trips Show with Tracy St. Croi
  • Paranormal Putas Podcast (@paranormal.putas)
  • Women in the Paranormal Panel

This event is obviously geared toward visitors who enjoy the inquisitive side of paranormal topics. But according to Marks, this is actually a great place for skeptics to explore. The many experts and enthusiasts onsite will bring experience "from the field," and can answer questions — either with sincere answers, or assurances that other people are wondering the same things. Topics with an academic bent will include quantum physics, folklore, aliens, and historical accounts.

"The biggest tip is to not be afraid to question things," says Marks-Rivera. "This is the perfect sort of place to walk among like-minded and curious people, [and] experience a moment in time when everything is possible. If this is a person's first time to the property, I suggest they take time to wander, explore, and experience the energy of the property. The chance to meet so many others with similar questions and experiences but no judgment is really empowering."

When these visitors are exploring the property, they are encouraged to reflect upon the Battle of Salado Creek, which Marks-Rivera says took place on the property. Fought on September 18, 1842, this battle was plagued by heavy rains and untamed river crossings. Despite these challenges, a Texan militia of barely more than 200 prevailed against a Mexican army of 1,600, and drove French-Mexican commander General Adrián Woll to retreat to Mexico.

The Paranormal Fest at Victoria's Black Swan Inn is held as a tradition as close to the anniversary, and honors soldiers who died in the struggle, including Steven Jett, who was reportedly the only Texan to die. The property acknowledges the souls that are tied to the land.

Online pre-sale tickets are sold out, but there will still be tickets available at the door if visitors don't mind a wait. There will be plenty more opportunities to visit the inn year-round. Coming up next are opportunities to book vow exchanges at the inn (October 13), a "dark circus" (October 21), and the Festival of the Dead Masquerade (November 4).

"I find it fascinating when people are willing to openly share their experiences, and I especially enjoy meeting new people that have been touched, in one way or another, by the paranormal side of life," says Marks-Rivera. "It is wonderful to see the movement towards acceptance of the possibility of Life after Death. We have been very arrogant in our belief that we are walking our paths alone."

She concludes, "Events such as our annual Paranormal Fest help open doors to these topics, conversations, and ideas that there is absolutely more to our world than just us...."

A schedule of events from September 15-17 is available on Facebook.

Comedian Adam Sandler chooses San Antonio as only Texas stop on new tour

bring on the funnies

Comedian and actor Adam Sandler is embarking on a new tour in October, with a stop at San Antonio’s AT&T Center on December 7.

Sandler's "The I Missed You Tour” will begin in Vancouver, British Columbia as its first stop on the 25-city North American run.

Sandler and an undisclosed "surprise guest" will make their way down the West and East coasts, hit the Midwest, then arrive in San Antonio for the one and only Texas stop. (He played Austin, Houston, and Dallas last February as part of his "Adam Sandler Live" stand-up tour, but they're not getting his new tour.)

Following two Oklahoma shows and a Kansas stop after San Antonio, the tour will conclude at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on December 12.

The shows are a rare chance for fans to see Sandler perform live, as he is an ultra-successful actor who's usually off making movies. The tour is coming on the heels of his latest Netflix film, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, which also features his wife and daughters.

Sandler's full tour schedule is as follows:

  • October 12 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Rogers Arena
  • October 13 – Seattle, Washington – Climate Pledge Arena
  • October 14 – Portland, Oregon – Veterans Memorial Coliseum
  • October 15 – Nampa, Idaho – Ford Idaho Center Arena
  • October 16 – Spokane, Washington – Spokane Arena
  • October 18 – San Jose, California – SAP Center at San Jose
  • October 19 – Stateline, Nevada – Tahoe Blue Event Center
  • October 20 – Fresno, California – Save Mart Center
  • October 21 – Palm Desert, California – Acrisure Arena
  • October 23 – Anaheim, California – Honda Center
  • November 7 – Toronto, Ontario – Scotiabank Arena
  • November 8 – Rochester, New York – Blue Cross Arena
  • November 9 – Washington, D.C. – Capital One Arena
  • November 11 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Fiserv Forum
  • November 12 – Minneapolis, Minnesota – Target Center
  • November 13 – Des Moines, Idaho – Wells Fargo Arena
  • November 15 – Indianapolis, Indiana – Gainbridge Fieldhouse
  • November 16 – Memphis, Tennessee – FedExForum
  • December 2 – Las Vegas, Nevada – Michelob ULTRA Arena
  • December 3 – Salt Lake City, Utah – Delta Center
  • December 7 – San Antonio, Texas – AT&T Center
  • December 8 – Thackerville, Oklahoma – WinStar Casino
  • December 9 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Paycom Center
  • December 10 – Wichita, Kansas – INTRUST Bank Arena
  • December 12 – Denver, Colorado – Ball Arena
Live Nation pre-sale tickets are available for purchase online via Ticketmaster, and the general on-sale will begin Friday, September 15 at 12 pm.