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The ghosts and goblins will be out early Saturday at Llano Cemetery.
An exhibition of African-American artist Joseph Holston’s paintings will go up at the Amarillo Museum of Art on Nov. 6.
Various Amarillo museums have gathered together this year to celebrate Halloween in the Texas Panhandle during the month of October.
Each Friday evening, a different museum will provide games, snacks and prizes for best costumes.
The parties are for 4- to 11-year-olds and will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. The charge is $20 for the first child in a family and $15 for each additional child. Advance registration is required and payment is due at registration.
The Amarillo Museum of Art was first on Oct. 9 (see photos).
The Panhandle Plains Historical Museum will host a Halloween party on Oct. 16 in Canyon.
The American Quarter Horse Museum will host the Oct. 23 party.
Don Harrington Discovery Center will have the Oct. 30 party.
Autumn and winter in the Texas Panhandle can evoke a longing for warm beaches and swaying palms. If your checkbook can’t take you as far as Tulum or Punta Cana, there’s always the Texas Gulf Coast. True, the water’s murky and the temperatures aren’t quite tropical. But the locals are friendly and the price of a vacation on the Texas Riviera is recession-compatible.
If you go to the Texas Gulf Coast, consider Port Aransas, arguably the best seaside town in Texas. Whether you spend your entire trip there or use the village as a base for exploring the surrounding area, Port Aransas offers every sort of coastal diversion, from fun on the water to festive nights on the town.
Port Aransas isn’t a secret, but it benefits from having a lower profile than other Gulf Coast destinations. Sea-seeking tourists from out of state tend to visit either Padre Island (for the beach-oriented) or Galveston (for the cultural-minded.) The happy result is that Port Aransas, although a travel destination, has avoided the ambivalence toward outsiders that tends to affect over-touristed towns.
Port A, as it’s known to its inhabitants, is home to a little more than two thousand people. The hamlet occupies the northern tip of Mustang Island, the barrier island immediately north of Padre Island. Fishing, not sunbathing or surfing, dominates the local culture. Rows of marinas along the town’s northern shoreline host everything from majestic yachts to humble dinghies. A public park facing the Gulf of Mexico provides plenty of beach for those wanting to play in the surf or just lounge by the waterside.
Anglers often catch their limit of redfish, flounder, black drum and trout around Port Aransas. Visitors can choose from a fairly wide selection of guided trips or opportunities for private charter. For a different experience of sea-fishing, just grab a rod and head for one of the lighted piers in town to try your luck from there. Better still, take your gear down to the jetty that juts out from the island’s northeastern tip. You’ll find the locals down there, sipping cans of beer and patiently casting away.
The town itself is a bit scruffy without seeming run-down. Alister Street, the main commercial strip, features the usual beach-town businesses. Drive through the side streets and enjoy the mildly schizophrenic array of domestic architecture — Gulf Coast homes tend to be more colorful and more vertical than those elsewhere in Texas. The lots are accented by tropical landscaping, including scrub conifers as well as palms and succulents. Furthermore, you don’t have to drive your car to tour the town. Bicycle rentals are available, as is a selection of street-legal and festively-painted golf carts.
Locals in Port Aransas are cheerful, laid-back and friendly in typically Texan fashion. Like many island communities, Port A follows its own cultural path, with only a casual eye toward goings-on in those places that fancy themselves cutting-edge. Classic rock blares from cars and restaurant patios. In fashion, form trails well behind function. Surely, visitors from Austin are struck by the lack of irony on the island, just as visitors from Dallas and Houston must be struck by the lack of status-asserting displays of consumption.
Port Aransas is the Lone Star version of Margaritaville, unselfconscious and without apology.
An afternoon on the public beaches will confirm that. All types mix freely: portly sunbathers, nubile surfers, leathery beachcombers and every other type of person, local or foreign. A quick rinse-off in one of the coin-operated showers is all the primping one needs to don sandals and take a seat in one of the restaurants near the water.
For those wanting a more pastoral beach experience, Mustang Island State Park lies 15 minutes south of Port Aransas. The park features a few miles of clean, quiet beaches facing the Gulf. If you visit during the middle of the week, you may well enjoy a football-field length of shoreline all to yourself, with quiet campers your only neighbors. If resort vacationing is your thing, a handful of Caribbean-themed hotels and condos dot the placid, dune-lined highway between Port A and the park.
If you’re looking for something different, rent a sea kayak. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds — kayaks are as simple to navigate as canoes. Around Port Aransas, kayaking trails often lead through a marshy maze of small channels, away from the big waves of the Gulf. Scuba diving, surfing lessons and horseback riding are other options for those who want an atypical vacation experience.
Amateur and professional naturalists alike have a number of options in Port A. Birdwatchers will appreciate the boardwalk and viewing tower at the Port Aransas Birding Center. For a richer experience of the region’s fauna, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge lies less than an hour’s drive north along the coast. Back in town, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute is more of a research facility than a tourist attraction, but the center does have a few exhibits open to the public.
The average temperature in Port Aransas lingers in the 70s through October before dipping to the 60s in November. During the winter, average temperatures bottom out in the 50s before returning to the 60s in March and the 70s in April.
Fear of developing breast cancer — the second most common cause of all cancer deaths in women — tops the list of health concerns for many women.
This is a legitimate worry considering that in 2009 more than 192,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 women will die because of it.
Being a woman and getting older are the two main risk factors for breast cancer.
There are many factors, including family history, personal history of certain cancers, no pregnancies or first pregnancy later in life, starting her period before age 12, menopause at age 55 or after, obesity, alcohol intake and use of some types of hormone therapy (HT), that can also increase a woman’s risk.
You can learn more about your risk of developing breast cancer and other cancers at www.ProtectAndDetect.org.
Breast cancer is often related to prolonged exposure to the hormone estrogen; excess fat tissue promotes estrogen production.
Maintain a healthy weight or shed extra pounds to help control estrogen levels.
Women who drink two or more alcoholic beverages a day are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who drink less. Limiting your consumption can help lower your risk.
The use of combined estrogen-progestin hormone therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer. ACOG recommends that women use the lowest dose necessary to relieve menopausal symptoms for the shortest amount of time possible.
Women with breast cancer have up to a 98 percent survival rate when it is caught at an early stage. Earlier detection and advances in treatment have led to the gradual decrease in breast cancer deaths.
Regular mammograms are crucial to identifying tumors when they are most treatable, but unfortunately, the number of women being screened has declined.
Women ages 40-49 should have a mammogram every 1-2 years. Women age 50 and older should have a mammogram annually.
If you have certain risk factors, such as being a carrier of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, your doctor may suggest mammography screening at a younger age.
High-risk women should discuss their prevention options with their doctors.
All women should have their breasts examined by their doctor annually.
Performing breast self-exams are also a good way to get to know your breasts and understand what’s normal for you.
As a national sponsor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, ACOG encourages women to focus on breast health.
For more information about breast cancer, treatment options, and how to get free screenings and low- or no-cost prescription medication, go to www.nbcam.org.
Dr. Gerald Joseph Jr.: President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.