October 2, 2022

Chet Garner loves Texas, and he loves barbecue, which means he considers his job to be the greatest job on earth. Chet is the creator, executive producer, writer, editor and host of the five-time Emmy-award winning PBS series “The Daytripper.” Chet is also a proud husband, father of four and eagle scout, and he’s a monthly contributor to Texas Highways magazine.

A man in a pink jacket and cowboy hat points at a map of Texas while holding a glass, standing in a room with various decorations.

1. What gets your motor running?

Great question for a man who gets hauled around Texas by an actual running motor. I’d say that anytime I fire up my truck’s physical motor and take to the road, my soul’s metaphysical motor starts running in tandem. Wow, we got deep quickly. Pass the whiskey!

2. What’s the best way to “see Texas?”

There’s no substitute for first-hand experiences. Everyone loves looking at pretty pictures of Texas on Instagram. But that doesn’t count. Even watching my show, “The Daytripper,” doesn’t count. You can’t eat barbecue by looking at pictures of it. In the same way, you can’t feel Balmorhea Pool without jumping in. Seeing is believing. So if you want to “see” Texas, you have to use your eyes. Sounds obvious and silly, but there can’t be any pixels between your eyeballs and the thing you’re looking at. Jump in your car and hit the road. That’s the only way to do it.

3. You’ve been to just about every nook and cranny in Texas. Give us five off-the-beaten-path sights you feel like everyone should check out.

Where do I start! Everyone needs to travel to Big Bend National Park, but don’t overlook the lesser-known Big Bend Ranch State Park. It’s got some of the best views and an incredible slot canyon so steep and narrow you can touch both sides at once. Swimming hole junkies need to check out Huntsville’s Blue Lagoon. It’s like the Caribbean Ocean in the Piney Woods. Beachcombers need to travel to the end of North Padre Island; it’s 60 miles of abandoned and beautiful coastline, and the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. Foodies need to try parissa from the meat markets of Medina County. It’s a raw, loose sausage that you eat on crackers, and this is the only place in the state where you can find it. And finally, everyone needs to go potty in the see-through restrooms of Sulphur Springs. It’s hard to explain, but look it up.

4. What’s the key to staying on the road for a long time without getting burnt out? Give us some hacks!

Well, you’ve got to love it. If you’re a homebody, there’s just no way to make it work long-term. You’ll just constantly be unhappy with your surroundings. You’ve got to be internally driven to want to explore new places and always comfortable being just a bit outside of your comfort zone. If you like to eat Friday night dinner at the same place every Friday with the same people, then life on the road isn’t for you. And that’s cool. But for me, my favorite restaurant to visit is one that I’ve never visited before. I very rarely repeat restaurants, and I never repeat vacations exactly. But if you’re not into new experiences and you have to spend time on the road sleeping in beds that aren’t your own, then bring parts of home with you: maybe your favorite whiskey glass or tea cup, or your stereo/Alexa/boombox to play your music. It won’t be a substitute for home, but it can help make it bearable. I don’t understand those people who bring their own pillow. But they exist. Maybe you’re one of them. And if the presence or lack of a pillow can make or break a trip, bring the dang pillow.

5. You’re a self-avowed barbecue junkie. What’s your favorite barbecue joint in the Lone Star State?

The impossible question. Truthfully, I don’t have an all-time favorite. I usually say that I’ve got a top five. But if you ask me to name them, it will quickly turns into a top 10. I’ll rattle off some favorites: Millers (Belton), Louie Muellers (Taylor), City Market (Luling), Vera’s (Brownsville), Brotherton’s (Pflugerville). BUT, I recently went to Convenience West in Marfa and Goldee’s in Fort Worth, and both of them are now in my top five, along with some others. So there are probably about 15 in my top five. And I’m OK with that. If you want to judge my favorite by sheer poundage eaten, then Rudy’s takes the top spot. Yes, they sponsor my show, but they’re so dang good and always ready for me without planning a road trip.

6. Texas is such a vast, dynamic place full of wildly varied regions. What makes a Texan a Texan?

Being a “Texan” is not about a look or a stereotype. You don’t need boots and a handlebar mustache. It’s about two things: the independent spirit and hospitality. You might find that independence being alone on a horse in West Texas or painting a mural in the middle of Austin. But it’s the idea that you can find a passion and go for it. Heck, that’s why businesses and people are flocking here. Texas is the land of infinite possibilities. And Texas has plenty of space for everyone. The second thing is hospitality. If you can’t offer someone a smile and a friendly “howdy” then you ain’t Texan. We need to remember that. Our homes, dinner tables, and whiskey bottles should be open to friends and strangers alike.

7. How do you take your whiskey?

Strong! Cask Strength is the way to go. So much more flavor. From the nose to the finish, it’s what whiskey is supposed to taste like. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-crafted cocktail. But at the end of the day, they’re kinda like different variations on the snow cone. I prefer to go back to the purest source, like drinking water from a spring in the mountains. That’s the good stuff.

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