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Grand Texas, Grandeur of Yosemite

June 25, 1995|BETTY MARTIN

TEXAS ( Rand McNally Video Traveler Collection, 35 minutes, 1994 ) .

Texas is so big that there's no way to cover more than snippets in a 35-minute video, but this one deserves an A for effort. Concentrating on the major cities and accompanied by maps, old film clips and a bit of history, viewers are given samples of the many facets of Texas.

El Paso, the western tip of the state, is immersed in Mexican history and ambience. A tour travels along the old Mission Trail, stopping at Yselta, the oldest town in Texas.

Following the Rio Grande south, viewers visit the awesome canyons of Big Bend National Park, then head northeast to San Angelo, once a wild cattle-trail town, where sites include the Indian War's Ft. Concho and Miss Hattie's, a restored bordello.

In San Antonio, there are scenes of some of its five missions, the Alamo, and the popular River Walk area with its shops, cafes and boat rides.

The capital, Austin, is a lovely city of parks and grand buildings.

Bordering the Gulf of Mexico is Galveston, connected to the mainland by causeways. The seawall, built after the 1900 hurricane, is big enough to accommodate a boulevard along its top. The tour of nearby Houston includes the Johnson Space Center.

Moving northeast the video visits the picturesque town of Jefferson, once a busy port on the inland river route from St. Louis and New Orleans.

Due west are Dallas and Fort Worth, the combined commercial center of Texas and a study in contrasts.

Final scenes are in the Panhandle cattle country, Palo Duro Canyon State Park and the city of Amarillo, where there is a cattle auction and some cowboy riding demonstrations.

Tapes are available from International Video Network, 2246 Camino Ramon, CA 94583; telephone (800) 669-4486. Price $14.95 (plus tax and postage).

HIKING YOSEMITE ( Sabo Productions, 62 minutes, 1993 ).

Those who really appreciate the incredible grandeur of Yosemite--its magnificent valleys, mountains, lakes and waterfalls--are those who hike its trails.

This video covers seven of the many possible trails available to the explorer. Each is prefaced with a map and a list of symbols that show length, altitude, best season, and the water and camping facilities available.

Also provided are park trail rules and regulations, suggested equipment, as well as some general precautions.

The segments, varying from one-day hikes to six-day overnight treks, range through the vast backcountry and are beautifully photographed and briskly narrated. The first trail is to Sentinel Dome with broad vistas from its 8,120-foot summit. Another is the Gaylor & Granite Lakes trail that takes viewers through old mining areas, followed by a trail through the Mariposa Grove with its giant sequoia trees, including the Grizzly Giant, which is about 2,700 years old.

The High Sierra Loop Trail, a 50-mile, six-day hike, takes viewers from Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulin, White Cascade, May Lake and Merced Lake.

Tapes are available from Sabo Productions, 223B 1st Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109, (800) 525-4453.cq-kd Price: $19.95 (plus tax and postage).

FLORENCE ( International Video Network, 35 minutes, 1994 ).

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is a goal for art lovers, and this video, one of IVN's Super Cities Collection, offers a selection of the enormous wealth of artworks to be found in this "Jewel of Tuscany."

Opening scenes are of the Piazza della Signoria, dominated by the huge Palazzo Vecchio with its glorious ceiling. Nearby is the Arno River and its bridges including the Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge not destroyed during World War II.

There are visits to some of the city's many churches, which themselves are museums, including the Church of San Lorenzo, a treasure house of masterpieces.

Other sites include the huge Duomo with its elegant bell tower and dome and the Pitti Palace. Side trips take viewers to the lovely gardens and mansions of Lucca; to Pisa with its leaning tower, the vineyards and wineries of Chianti country and San Gimignano, a hill town noted for its numerous towers and frescoes.

There are scenes also of the famous horse race, the Palio, held each summer in Siena and scenes of its beautifully crafted Duomo. Aerial views show the fairy-tale quality of the Tuscan landscape.

Tapes are available from International Video Network, 2246 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, CA 94583; tel. (800) 669-4486. Price: $14.95 (plus tax and postage).

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