Over the last decade, Senior Managing Editor Matt Joyce has written dozens of stories about Texas’ majestic landscapes, charismatic people, and multifaceted history. While he’s moving onto a new job at Texas State University, he leaves behind an impressive legacy of creative influence across 125 issues of Texas Highways. Before his departure, I asked him to share some memorable stories and travels. And luckily, he’s promised to write a story here and there as his schedule allows, so this won’t be the last time you see him in these pages.
Which of the issues you worked on is your favorite? The February 2016 issue, which was dedicated to the centennial of the National Park Service. Outsiders don’t necessarily think of Texas when it comes to national parks, but the truth is we’ve got some of the most interesting parks in the country. I learned a lot about Texas’ natural and cultural heritage and our forebears’ dogged efforts to protect places like the Big Bend, the Big Thicket, and the San Antonio Missions.
What were some of your favorite stories to edit? I’m forever impressed by the creativity and resourcefulness of our writers. A few of my recent favorite stories to edit have been writers Joe Nick Patoski on Cajun culture of the Golden Triangle; John Nova Lomax on the Karankawa tribe and its modern-day descendants; Clayton Maxwell on Cabeza de Vaca’s Texas travels; E. Dan Klepper on his artistic photography; and W.K. Stratton on the past and present of Texas rodeo bullfighters.
What place does every Texan need to visit at least once? Licon Dairy in San Elizario. I was in the area to research a story about Christmas traditions on the El Paso Mission Trail when I drove by this strange place that appeared to be a dairy combined with a zoo. I didn’t have time to stop, but I returned a few years later to write a story. The Licons are great people, and they do in fact keep a small zoo with goats, ostriches, and Roger the camel. Each day, the dairy makes fresh asadero cheese, including delicate slices called tortillas de leche, or “tortillas of milk.” They’re as good as they sound.
You’ve written about many Texas rivers—which is your favorite? The Rio Grande. I’ve been on several rafting and canoeing trips through the canyons of the Big Bend. The isolation and beauty are unforgettable. But I’ve never been on a bad river trip in Texas. Some of my other favorites are the Neches, the Devils, the San Marcos, and the Colorado.
What are some reporting trips that stand out? There are so many snapshots: participating in a zydeco trail ride near Beaumont; standing where the Texians camped during the Battle of San Jacinto; summiting Emory Peak in Big Bend. While I’m stepping into a different job, I can’t imagine life without road-tripping to explore Texas. And I’ll always keep Texas Highways close at hand.
Emily Roberts Stone
Editor in Chief