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A 6,000-Mile Multi-Loop Tour to Capture Texas Backroads and Birds

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When two book deals came together at once for Gary Clark and Kathy Adams Clark, it forced them, in an effort to meet the accelerated deadline (which they did), to tour around Texas just a little bit in their own version of a Big Tex Road Trip.

“We drove 6,000 miles in three loops in seven months,” says Kathy Clark, the photographer for Backroads of Texas: Along the Byways to Breathtaking Landscapes and Quirky Small Towns and Book of Texas Birds, two newly released photographic books co-authored by Kathy’s husband, Gary Clark.

Gary Clark, a professor at Lone Star College-North Harris and nature columnist for the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, is an avid birder who says that he has been to just about all of Texas’ 254 counties to study birds.

“I didn’t want to write a typical field guide. There are a gazillion of those, where there’s a photo of a bird and sidebar of facts,” he says. “I wanted to write a narrative of facts because you reach more people with stories. To me, every bird has a story.”

Backroads of Texas transpired when Voyageur Press, the Minneapolis-based publisher of Backroads of the Texas Hill Country: Your Guide to the Most Scenic Adventures, approached the Clarks to execute a comprehensive follow-up. They had just over half a year to get it done. “We were basically on the road for seven straight months,” says Kathy Clark.

One of Kathy’s favorite road-warrior stories took place in Valentine in West Texas, the roadside attraction site of the Prada Marfa store/art installation. Other than a handful of long-haul trucks, hardly anybody travels the dust bowl that is Texas State Highway 90.

“But then a car drives up and four young people pile out of the car. They’re all dressed in black and white Prada outfits. It looked as if they were doing a music video or something,” remembers Kathy, who asked them to pose for her.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, Gary Clark and Kathy Adams Clark will appear at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, in support of Backroads of Texas and Book of Texas Birds. Admission is free. Call 713-523-0701 or go to brazosbookstore.com.

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