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."

Bellagreen/ Facebook

Green eats, kicking coffee, and migratory mangonadas spice up San Antonio food news


Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

Dallas fast-casual concept Bellagreen will soon be heading to San Antonio. According to filings with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the "American bistro" will be the second hospitality tenant at the Jefferson Building at 1900 Broadway, the home of hotly anticipated sushi restaurantNineteen Hyaku. Similar to other new additions to the local chain scene, like Seasons 52 and Postino, Bellagreen offers an eclectic mix of upmarket quick cuisine — including Wagyu burgers, brick chicken, and hemp flour empanadas. State records set the completion date in April 2024.

Bucking against the stereotype that Alamo City is a sleepy town, yet another caffeine carpetbagger is landing on local soil. Via a press release, Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii announced plans to open five new locations in San Antonio, joining out-of-towners Black Rock Coffee Bar, Dutch Bros. Coffee, and PJs Coffee of New Orleans in the race siphon off Starbucks' gas. Company officials, however, did not share the neighborhoods it was targeting for a spring debut.

Snack shop Big Daddy's Eats and Treats has shuttered its Cevallos Street location, but locals need not get into a stew. Via Instagram, owner Jaime Morales explained that the business is temporarily operating out of Burgerteca, located a few blocks from the original outpost. The stopgap move will give diners access to desperately needed raspas while Morales converts one of the complex's silos into a forever home.

Other news and notes

Adelita Tamales & Tortilla Factory has reopened after a car crashed through its building on September 9. In a Facebook update, the 85-year-old business shared that it quickly partitioned off the damaged portion of the building to allow some production to resume. However, the corn tortilla machine, which took the brunt of the collision, remains inoperable.

Popular Tastemade personality Frank Celenza is taking a detour through River City for his latest show, Worth the Hype. The series dives into some of the most buzzworthy restaurants to learn the secrets behind their signature dishes. The San Antonio stop includes visits to Alebrije, Box Street All Day, Curry Boys BBQ, and Ray's Drive Inn.

Ahead of its October launch, Make Ready Market is offering a sneak peek of four of its upcoming concepts on September 22 at Three Star Bar. The pop-up will feature bites and brews from Buje, Eet-up, Idle Brewing, and Pescado Bravo for a $10 ticket. Proceeds will benefit Slow Boogie's, an altruistic root beer trailer providing jobs for Eastside youth.

20 area nonprofits are rising to GroupRaise Krispy Kreme Back-to-School Fall Fundraising Challenge. The nationwide competition invites locals to support their favorite charities by purchasing a dozen (or more) glazed doughnuts from midnight to 11:59 pm on September 14. A portion of the sales will be donated to participating organizations, and the top 10 doughnut slingers will get an additional donation.


Hill Country festival uncorks weekend of music and Texas wine


It’s an inescapable part of Central Texas’ fall. As soon as the “ber” months roll out, the social calendar quickly fills with festivals devoted to everything from books to indie films. It’s a lot to process — especially considering the ever-growing crowds at the season’s juggernauts.

Luckily, one autumn event is giving locals a little breathing room. Held on the bucolic Hill Country grounds of Vinovium winery, Texas Wine Jam returns to Johnson City on November 4-5. The music and wine-filled weekend allows guests to stretch out while supporting two local nonprofits.

More than 22 wineries will participate (that's 7 more than last year), including Farmhouse Vineyards, Lewis Wines, Lost Draw Cellars, Ron Yates, and Westcave Cellars. In addition to offering samples, the participants will be offering exclusive deals to attendees. Each bottle purchased comes with a raffle ticket for mixed wine cases and other prizes.

The jam will be handled via live sets by Classic Rewind, The Anthony Garcia Band, Josh Klaus, and Bubba Coltrane and the Train Wrecks. The music will cover a wide array of crowd-pleasing genres, from Spanish guitar-tinged Americana to raucous, horn-filled rock.

While bopping to the tunes, guests can also listen in on a winemaker panel or check out a cooking demo. And, of course, no festival is complete without street food — this year delivered by Rex’s Creole Kitchen, Rex’s Smokehouse, Oro Bianco, River Whey Creamery, and more.

Proceeds benefit the Texas Wine Community Scholarship program and the SIMS Foundation, an Austin organization providing mental health and recovery services for music industry professionals and their dependents.

General admission tickets are available online now, ranging from a $45 single-day pass to a $75 two-day pass. The $55-$95 VIP tickets include early entrance, five additional raffle tickets, and a branded wine bottle koozie. The festival takes place noon-5 pm each day, and alternate dates on November 11-12 have been set aside in case of inclement weather.

Photo by Francisco Cortes

Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Tap into your expressive side with a blend of performance art, classical art, and more at venues around the city. Enjoy a live Folkorico performance by the Guadalupe Dance Company, or stop by the McNay and Centro Cultural Aztlan to appreciate new art exhibitions. Check out the top seven things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, September 7

McNay Art Museum presents Alice Aycock: "Moving through Time"
Discover and appreciate the work of sculptor and painter Alice Aycock at the McNay Art Museum’s newest exhibition. Guests will be able to view all 10 studies for one of Aycock’s most influential sculptures, 1972’s Maze, and other pieces from her body of work spanning five decades. Following opening weekend, the exhibition will be on view through November 26. Go to mcnayart.org for more details.

Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club presents Arnez J
Comedian Arnez J. takes up a brief residence at The Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club. He’s known for his regular appearances on the BET series, Comic View, and recently released his comedy special, Racially Motivated, on Netflix. Shows are scheduled through September 10. Go to improvtx.com for more information.

Friday, September 8

Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents "Celebrando Tradiciones"
Experience the rich culture of traditional Mexican dance at this special Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Folklorico production. The performance showcases music by Mariachi Azteca de América and movement by the Guadalupe Dance Company. For tickets and more details, go to guadalupeculturalarts.org.

San Antonio Parks Foundation presents Jazz In The Garden
Jazz in The Garden returns for a fall season of live music, fresh evening air, and the botanical beauty of San Antonio’s Japanese Tea Garden. This month’s event features a live performance by jazz and neo-soul group CarbonLily. Guests are encouraged to bring their blankets and lawn chairs for the most comfortable listening experience. Admission to this event is free and open to the public. For more concert series information, visit saparks.org.

Centro Cultural Aztlan presents Jorge Sandoval: "Fotos y Recuerdos" opening reception
San Antonio artist Jorge Sandoval showcases a culmination of the world around him for the past two decades at Centro Cultural Aztlan. Visitors can expect photographs that portray Chicano Art, defining historic moments, and cultural events in San Antonio and Mexico through Sandoval’s acclaimed lens. Following opening weekend, the exhibit is on display through October 18. Admission to the reception is free and open to the public. This exhibition is part of Fiestas Patrias 2023.

Saturday, September 9

Peso Pluma in concert
Mexican music artist Peso Pluma performs live in concert at Majestic Theatre. The singer's "Ella Baila Sola" with Eslabon Armado was the first regional Mexican song to enter the top five on the Billboard Hot 100. He makes the one-night stop in San Antonio in support of his 2022 album, Sembrando. For ticket details, go to Ticketmaster.

Sunday, September 10

San Antonio Parks Foundation presents Jazz In The Garden
Photo by Francisco Cortes

San Antonio Parks Foundation presents "Jazz In The Garden" on September 8.

Flogging Molly in concert
Punk rock is alive and well in the Alamo City thanks to Flogging Molly. The seven-piece band known for songs like “Drunken Lullabies” and “Devil’s Dance Floor” comes to Aztec Theatre in support of their 2022 album, Anthem. Visit concerts.livenation.com for more information.

Photo courtesy of Charley Crockett

Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Entertainment comes to Alamo City in the form of live music, poetry, and family-friendly cultural showcases. Catch Texan artist Charley Crockett live in concert, or celebrate with local heritage organizations during Historic Plaza Days. Check out the top five things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, August 24

Gemini Ink presents A Night of Celebration with 2023 Texas Poet Laureate ire'ne lara silva
Newly awarded 2023 Texas Poet Laureate ire’ne lara silva shares excerpts, stories, and the spotlight with guests at this Gemini Ink-hosted event. The poet will read from her works and will welcome other artists to the stage for additional readings and appearances. Admission to this event is free and open to the public.

Matute: Party Monster Tour
Rock out to the nostalgic music of the ‘80s and '90s as performed by Mexican band, Matute. Travel back in time with the help of the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre’s transformed stage, historically-appropriate band costumes, and all the top hits from two of the most iconic eras in pop culture. Get more information on Ticketmaster.

Friday, August 25

Main Plaza Conservancy presents Historic Plaza Days
Celebrate and honor the practices and culture of the people who lived here before San Antonians at Main Plaza Conservancy. Family-friendly event highlights include beading activities, live music, drumming, and a blessing by the Tehuan Band of Mission Indians. Following this weekend, the next plaza day will be hosted on September 29. Plaza days are free and open to the public to attend.

Charley Crockett in concert
Texan country musician Charley Crockett makes a concert stop in the San Antonio area for one night only. He comes to Whitewater Amphitheater in support of his 2022 album, The Man from Waco. Alex Lambert, Molly Tuttle, and Golden Highway will join Crockett as special guest performers. Go to Ticketweb for more information.

Saturday, August 26

1964: The Tribute in concert
Revisit the year 1964 through the lens and superstardom of The Beatles during this musical reimagining at Majestic Theatre. Fans can experience the historic performances that The Beatles gave at the peak of the group’s worldwide “Beatlemania.” For ticket details, check out majesticempire.com.

Charley Crockett
Photo courtesy of Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett peforms live at Whitewater Amphitheater on August 25.

Photo courtesy of 2M Smokehouse

Top Texas pitmasters will blaze through Lockhart for 2023 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest


For Texas barbecue fans, sampling the best can be a daunting job. There are the gas costs, of course, and all the waiting in line. Then road warriors must consider lodging. Rural towns may produce exceptional brisket, but few are well-known for luxurious linens.

Carnivores with less cultish levels of devotion know the best way to check out the scene is through a yearly pilgrimage to the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest.

The annual meatopia will blaze into Lockhart November 4-5. The juicy 2023 lineup, dropped on August 22, includes some of the most celebrated pitmasters in the state.

Drawing from barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn's "Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas" list and the September "25 Best New and Improved BBQ Joints in Texas" update (which featured one San Antonio spot), the invitees reflect Texas' deep culinary traditions and growing diversity.

The shindig kicks off on November 4 with the BBQ World's Fair, a free street fair featuring live music, artisan vendors, cooking demos, and an array of vendors from Texas Monthly's barbecue lists and Taco Trail. Those wanting a more VIP experience can purchase an "Around the World" punch card entitling guests to exclusive bites from featured barbecue joints.

The honor roll includes the following, with more to be announced soon:

  • Barbs-B-Q (Lockhart)
  • Brix Barbecue (Fort Worth)
  • CM Smokehouse (Austin)
  • GW's BBQ (San Juan)
  • KG BBQ (Austin)
  • Khói Barbecue (Houston)
  • The Original Black's BBQ (Lockhart)
  • Sunbird Barbecue (Longview)

The weekend continues on November 5 with the giant Top 50 Picnic, a celebration of the finest craft makers in the state. The stellar lineup adds:

  • 1701 Barbecue (Beaumont)
  • 2M Smokehouse (San Antonio)
  • Baker Boys BBQ (Gonzales)
  • Blood Bros. BBQ (Bellaire)
  • Brett's BBQ Shop (Katy)
  • Brett's Family BBQ (Rockdale)
  • Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue (Pflugerville)
  • Burnt Bean Co. (Seguin)
  • Cattleack Barbeque (Farmers Branch)
  • Convenience West (Marfa)
  • Dayne's Craft Barbecue (Fort Worth)
  • Desert Oak Barbecue (El Paso)
  • Eaker Barbecue (Fredericksburg)
  • Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue (Wolfforth)
  • Feges BBQ (Houston)
  • Goldee's Bar-B-Q (Fort Worth)
  • Guess Family Barbecue (Waco)
  • Hays Co. Bar-B-Que (San Marcos)
  • Helberg Barbecue (Woodway)
  • Hurtado Barbecue (Arlington)
  • Hutchins BBQ (Frisco)
  • Interstellar BBQ (Austin)
  • Killen's Barbecue (Pearland)
  • LaVaca BBQ (Port Lavaca)
  • LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue (Austin)
  • LJ's BBQ (Brenham)
  • Micklethwait Craft Meats (Austin)
  • Miller's Smokehouse (Belton)
  • Mimsy's Craft Barbecue (Crockett)
  • Panther City BBQ (Fort Worth)
  • Rejino Barbeque (Olton)
  • Slow Bone (Dallas)
  • Smokey Joe's BBQ (New Braunfels)
  • Snow's BBQ (Lexington)
  • Teddy's Barbecue (Weslaco)
  • Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue (Tomball)
  • Terry Black's Barbecue (Lockhart)
  • Truth Barbecue (Houston)
  • Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ (Buda)
  • Zavala's Barbecue (Grand Prairie)

Although VIP tickets and weekend bundles have already been gobbled up, a few general admission tickets and punch cards remain for the weekend events. Snag them at texasmonthly.com.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio foundation pounces on bold program to return ocelots to the wild


In Texas, wildlife conservation is far from a simple equation. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, over 93 percent of the state is privately owned, including vital habitats for big cats. Balancing protection measures with the desires of landowners requires a deft hand.

Still, one San Antonio nonprofit is hoping it has found the right formula for ocelot recovery. The East Foundation, a local ranching operation and agricultural research organization, is proposing the Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, to support reintroducing species into the wild. A 30-day public comment period began September 15.

Following the proposal, the East Foundation will release ocelots onto a section of its San Antonio Viejo Ranch in Jim Hogg and Starr Counties — an area marked as unoccupied ocelot habitat. Landowners in neighboring counties can voluntarily sign up to allow the cats passage on their acres, exempting them from future conservation activities.

Working with the Recover Texas Ocelots project, East Foundation has assembled large amounts of data on ocelots, ranging from prey habits to behavior with other carnivores. This research informed the organization's conservation strategy.

The need for protection is dire. The distinctively spotted wild cats have been officially listed as endangered since 1982. The state's sole breeding populations live in far South Texas, where much land is devoted to ranching.

"The largest population of ocelots remaining in Texas (and, by extension, the United States) occupies East Foundation ranch land in Willacy County," explains Dr. Jason Sawyer, Chief Science Officer for the East Foundation, via a release. Several estimates place that population between 50 and 100.

"So, we have demonstrated that good land stewardship associated with normal ranching activities is not in conflict with ocelot recovery," he continued, "and we want to continue ranching operations while also providing an opportunity to expand these populations."

Plan details and other conservation efforts can be found online. Comments will be accepted through October 16, with full specifics available at the Federal Register.

"The assurances provided in the Agreement offer a path for lasting and effective partnerships that accomplish conservation goals while removing the barriers that have historically impeded these efforts," said Neal Wilkins, Chief Executive Officer for the East Foundation. "We are excited to lead an effort like this in South Texas, where we successfully operate, and where wildlife conservation and ranching have been vitally important for more than 100 years."

Amazon goes on holiday hiring spree with 2.6k open positions in San Antonio

Holiday News

Soon the holidays will be here, and that means an influx of seasonal work from Amazon, which is on a holiday hiring spree.

According to a release, the company is hiring 250,000 employees throughout the U.S. in full-time, seasonal, and part-time roles across its operations network.

More than 28,000 of those will be in Texas with nearly half — 13,000 employees — to be hired in Dallas-Fort Worth. (Houston will be hiring more than 5,100, Austin more than 4,100, and San Antonio more than 2,600 workers. Waco gets 1,700-plus new positions, and El Paso, more than 300.)

Those include a diverse range of roles, from packing and picking to sorting and shipping, available to applicants from all backgrounds and experience levels.

Customer fulfillment and transportation employees can earn, on average, over $20.50 per hour for those roles, and up to $28 depending on location. Interested candidates can see hiring locations and open positions at amazon.com/apply.

"The holiday season is always a special time at Amazon and we’re excited to hire 250,000 additional people this year to help serve customers across the country," says Amazon SVP John Felton. "Whether someone is looking for a short-term way to make extra money, or is hoping to take their first step toward a fulfilling and rewarding career at Amazon, there’s a role available for them."

According to Felton, a fulfillment or transportation employee who starts today will see a 13 percent increase in pay over the next three years, on top of offerings like pre-paid college tuition and health care benefits on day one.

Jobs in Amazon’s operations network include: stowing, picking, packing, sorting, shipping customer orders, and more, available in hundreds of cities and towns across the U.S., with a range of full- or part-time hours.

For anyone interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Amazon, they offer free behind-the-scenes tours to the public at amazontours.com.

Hill Country glamping goes gourmet with new personal chef experience

In-Tents Flavors

Flights to Africa are not cheap right now. The animals may not be the same, but at least San Antonians can make a short drive to a very comfortable safari tent for special-occasion jaunts into the wilderness.

"Why does it look like you're in Africa again?" questioned one of this reporter's friends via Instagram DM. It's true, we'd been in a nearly identical landscape in South Africa last winter. But this was only an hour's drive away. And make no mistake — it's still expensive, but not more so than a upscale hotel room or Airbnb at $450 a night.

Amani, the sole safari tent overlooking a vast expanse at Marble Falls' Shaffer Bend Recreation Area, may pose a philosophical question about what camping entails. If it's being in a remote area, it certainly fits the bill. The tent is situated at the end of a dirt road, off a dirt road. There's practically no chance of seeing even the odd hiker, unless they've taken the incredibly steep trail up the back way and specifically sought out the tent.

The more challenging question, is does camping include a generator? How about a shower, air conditioning, mini-fridge, plush rug, and king-sized bed? Probably not, but it certainly makes it easy to pack up and hit the woods in any weather. And if it's about enjoying nature, it doesn't really get better than being comfortable while doing so — although the noise from the generator, which powers the running water, is a necessary trade-off.

Amani LCRA interiorPhoto courtesy of LCRA

A unique idea for honeymoons, girls trips, seniors, or apartment dwellers without much room for storing camping equipment — and verified by CultureMap on an invitation by the park — this is hotel-style travel with the benefit of having absolutely no other visitors in sight. Or earshot. And although the smart interior design gives a glamper anything they'd need to make, serve, and store their own meals (using ingredients from the Marble Falls H-E-B, about 10 miles away), those who want to lean into the luxury may book some gourmet options.

Home chefs who like the idea of remaining separate from the rest of civilization can order a meal prep kit ($55-75 per person, vegan options available) to be delivered to the tent, where they can cook on the grill. The kitchenette, designed with input from a local chef who loved visiting the park before Amani existed, has plenty of grilling tools and dish ware — enough for four people to use even though the space only sleeps two.

More extravagant travelers should seriously consider the most luxurious option: welcoming in a private chef ($300). Chef Cindy Crowe grilled up Amani's first-ever private dining experience on September 16, representing the start of a new partnership between Crowe's company, Bay Kitchens Catering, and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the government agency that managers the park and rents out Amani.

In fact, it was Bay Kitchens corporate chef, Jay Hunter, who made recommendations on the kitchenette design. And the park is no stranger to luxury dining outdoors; At one fundraising dinner, part of its "Savor the Outdoors" series, park supporters gathered at long picnic tables along the river at Pedernales Falls State Park to enjoy local foods prepared on cool live-fire rigs. The food was delicious, but the friendly breaking of bread between outdoorsy foodies was the highlight of the evening.

The spirit was similar at Amani, although, of course, much smaller in scale. Chef Crowe set up at the outdoor grill and peacefully, efficiently got to work preparing a meal that looked like it came out of an elite, bustling kitchen. Yet, despite all its sophistication, this meal retained the soul of any campsite meal: a simple grilled trout, a summery salad, and a no-bake dessert.

LCRA Amani private chef dinner troutPhoto by Brianna Caleri

Amani LCRA aerial

Photo courtesy of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA)

Amani is the Lower Colorado River Authority's experiment in ultra-secluded glamping.

More specifically, the three-course meal — called the "Serengeti Menu" — included a very tender baby greens salad with toasted pecans and feta, sweet strawberries, perfectly soft orange supreme (essentially naked orange segments), and a refreshing peach-pecan vinaigrette. The very lemony trout was served with crispy skin, a healthy sprinkling of chives, and an almost-rustic side of roasted Yukon gold potatoes and Chardonnay and honey-spiked baby carrots. Chef Crowe rounded out the menu with her Key lime cheesecake, which she dressed with a berry compote and torched Italian meringue, for a low-maintenance, high-payoff finish.

Other menus include bourbon and honey-glazed Atlantic Salmon with marble potatoes and broccolini, or a choice of steak cuts with asparagus and a twice-baked potato. Crowe points out that although the menu isn't very limited, she did have to think about what could be cooked without an open flame. (It'd be hard to cook on something other than propane during a burn ban.) Things like twice-baked potatoes and mini cheesecakes are easy to prepare ahead and hit with a finishing touch at the campground.

"It's simple food, still done well," says Crowe. "Even though I'm out here with these beautiful views cooking on a grill you could buy at Lowe's, I still want to put my stamp on the dishes."

Amani is an experiment for the LCRA, according to Crowe and Cheyrice Brumfield, the park ranger and Cherokee grandmother who appeared at my tent in full glam makeup at 10:20 am to get the water turned back on after a repair before I arrived. If Amani — which officially opened its reservations in June according to a publicist — is as successful as the glamping trend of the past few years would suggest, the LCRA plans to bring similar tents to other parks.

Crowe, during her first run-through of this particular catering experience, was not sure how many people would be join in, but she guesses she could accommodate four people. Bay Kitchen Catering also does bridal brunches and even bulk prep for other restaurants, so the scope depends more on what LCRA is willing to host than the volume the catering company is capable of achieving.

Amani LCRAPhoto by Brianna Caleri

A private chef experience is obviously not required to enjoy a stay at Amani, but it certainly elevates the occasion, and could be a nice way to mark a special occasion beyond just staying in a nice room. Amani also offers a cold cowboy pool (basically a large trough for seated dip) that a glamper can choose to heat as a hot tub, an electric bike rental for conquering the very hilly roads and exploring Shaffer Bend's 508 acres, and of course, spectacular views all around the park.

It's as easy to scoff at the extreme luxury as it is to fantasize about it (if you, like most of us, contain multitudes), but what is really special about Amani is that people like Crowe and Brumfield are making it happen. It's not one of a dozen new purchases by an international hotel chain; It directly benefits Texas parks, and it's taken care of by warm, relatable Texans.

Amani and the park's other campgrounds can be reserved at reserveamerica.com. The safari tent has a two-night minimum, bringing the minimum rental cost to $900 before tax and fees. Culinary reservations must be made at least 72 hours before the stay. More information about Shaffer Bend Recreation Area is available at lcra.org.