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Texas: Bandera, Medina River, Medina, Boerne
2004 Travelogue # 9 Bandera, Pipe Creek, Boerne
Lake Medina, Thousand Trails
5/5 This was a tourist day, which is always a fun time. Peggy had an added incentive to shop because we needed a baby gift for our nephew and that, most definitely, lifted her spirits. Bandera, Texas was our destination this morning. Even though we were here in the fall, we didn't shop; this time it would be different we had a mission.
Bandera, in Spanish means red flag and it is believed the name came from the red flag that flew atop Bandera Pass, north of the city. The pass separated the Medina and Guadalupe Valleys and in 1732, a red flag was placed on the highest peak, as a reminder of a boundary agreement between the Spaniards and Indians.
The crystal clear Medina River flows through this area and along both sides, as far as you can see, are majestic cypress trees. It was here in 1852 at a bend in the river, three families camped, decided to settle, and started a cypress shingle business. One cypress tree yielded up to 30,000 shingles and a good shingle maker could produce about 1,000 shingles a day. It was from this early business that the town of Bandera began.
We parked in a public parking area and started our mission. Before long, we entered a bookstore, decorated in a Cowboy motif, in keeping with the town being "The Cowboy Capital of the World". There, we found a pair of bookends, handmade of native Austin limestone with the Texas Ranger Lone Star emblem placed on each stone. We felt this would be a fitting gift for young Benjamin, the newest addition to our family line, to hold his special books.
Now, it was lunchtime and never passing up an eating opportunity, we discovered Chicken Charlie, hidden away on a back street (11th St.). It was recommended by Susan Harrison, the bookstore owner and recent town transplant from Dallas. Charlie's is very small, reminding us of an old frame storefront with a plate-glass window on each side of the entrance. Inside there were six bar height tables, with four bar chairs, three on each side of the center aisle which led to the kitchen in back. On the rustic wood plank walls were many photos of western events, locals and personalities who have dined at this eatery.
Dawn, our waitress, said they only have three employees working each shift, one waitress, a cook and a dishwasher. We ordered chicken fried steak, with a side of cream gravy, plus the other fixings but later, I wished I'd ordered what the rancher was eating behind me deep-fried frog legs.
After lunch, we sat outside at a table and composed a note to young Benjamin to accompany our Fed-Ex shipment. While Peggy was writing, I noticed the establishment across the street. It was the same type of ramshackle structure as Chicken Charlie with only the word BAR lettered across the top. Two Harleys were parked out front while the three riders sipped bottles of Bud Lite. I knew this was a place needing investigation.
The Harley riders cranked up their Hogs and took off; we moseyed across the street, walked into the BAR and found one heck of a joint. Of immediate notice, covering and hanging from the ceiling, were signed ladies bras, and then we saw the western gear, pictures, and old neon beer signs. The bar had a couple of flashy ladies as bartenders. We made the comment to them, "What a wonderful, fun place", and one of the ladies stepped from behind the bar introducing herself as Susan Reed. She and her husband, Eldon, were the owners of the 11th Street Cowboy Bar. She said, "Come on, I'll give ya'll a tour," with the first stop being the Ladies Restroom. This restroom was covered with old signs except for two special places where a local artist had painted murals of lighthearted and funny caricatures. She continued the tour through the building and out the back door into an area used for outdoor entertainment having many tables and a stage under a grape arbor cover. Susan invited us back later in the afternoon when the mariachis arrived, for good music and free BBQ for our dining pleasure. Wow!! What a joint!!
Leaving Bandera, we followed SH 16 north, up the river valley to the town of Medina, noticing the cypress trees along the sides of the River. The town of Medina is considered to be the "The Apple Capital of Texas" and the Adams family started it all, not too long ago, in 1982.
The place to stop when in Medina is the Love Creek Orchards Cider Mill and Store owned by the Adams family. Here there are apple goodies of all kinds. The aroma of homemade apple pies, strudels and turnovers greeted us when we walked into the store. We drank a cup of fresh apple cider, split a slice of fresh apple pie, and finished it off with a cup of homemade apple ice cream. The ice cream alone is worth the drive; it is made with fresh apple cider and is unbelievable in texture and taste. We took our bowls and sat under a shade tree in the garden, enjoying the moment, the ice cream, and a hummingbird making its rounds.
Returning home late that afternoon we were ready for a good long walk we needed to burn some calories. As most of our walks go, we end up spending a great deal of time visiting with other campers and we encountered two on our walk this evening.
The couple camping next-door to us was retired Army. He met his wife while stationed in Germany; they live in Colorado Springs and were here to attend a reunion of his Army group in San Antonio.
The other couple, we followed out of the Park this morning and noticed the right rear taillight was not working on his toad. I spotted the toad on our walk; he was stoking his campfire. I introduced myself and told him about his taillight. Well, that turned into a 45-minute visit with Donna and Richard Davies from Pennsylvania, who are now full-timers. We finally got back in stride with our walk and ended up walking home in the dark, but who cares?
5/7 We did chores this morning then drove to the Post Office in Lakeside, TX to pick up our mail. The small restaurant, Pipe Creek Junction Cafe, in Pipe Creek came highly recommended for lunch. The restaurant, an old white frame building at the junction of FM 1238 and SH16, looks like it was once a general store/gas station, with more emphasis on the store part. The front section had four booths along one wall and six mismatched oak tables with an assortment of wooden chairs. There were old pictures and Texas memorabilia on the walls. The place was full. One very large, middle-aged man with baggy blue jeans, Hawaiian sport shirt, sporting a mixed gray and black ponytail hanging to the middle of his shoulders, was our waiter. We stood waiting between a table and booth needing to be bused, when he came over and asked, "Which of these do you want, table or booth?" We said," whichever is cleaned first." We got the booth and he said, "I'm working this room and the back room and ya'll are third down, so sit down and I'll bring your drink order". We did. Spying some newspapers featuring Bandera, we grabbed several and started reading.
About a year ago, in Niagara by the Lake, Canada, we met Andrea Jennings of Toronto while having breakfast at our Bed and Breakfast. She found it interesting that we were from Texas and shared her love for horses and her desire to someday come to Texas to spend time on a ranch. We told her then about Bandera and it being the "Cowboy Capital" and about all of the dude ranches in the area. Since that time, she has been on our distribution list and receives our Travelogues. This newspaper about Bandera was made to order for her, listing all the western activities, dude ranches, and color photos of cowboys that looked like they had sprung out of "Lonesome Dove". We had just received an email from her regarding the "Jack County Part 1" Travelogue and thought it fitting to mail her one of these Bandera papers, so that maybe someday, when she makes the trip south, she'll have some idea of what is available.
Well, finally our tall, dark, and not-so-handsome waiter came back and asked us, "Whatcha ya want?" He took our order and he also told me, "We've run out of mashed potatoes." OK. We got to the part where we ordered bread or cornbread and I said, "Regarding the bread, I think I will have" he said, "You'll get rolls, we's out of cornbread". OK. I guess that's what happens when you get the "Blue Plate Special" at 12:45. At least we had a selection for dessert peach cobbler or cherry.
While having lunch, we received a call from our sales rep that our coach had been delivered from Alabama and was now in Boerne. Quickly finishing lunch, we made a "beeline" to Boerne for a walk-through. This was our new home and we were excited.
5/11 We arrived in Boerne this morning to begin the transition to our new coach with a high level of anxiety. Arriving at the dealership, they told us to park in a designated area, next to the new one, so we could make the exchange of possessions as easy as possible.
The transition from one coach to another for Full-Timers is a process that requires some planning where to put what. We both started working in different areas. Peggy stayed in the Allegro while I worked in the Endeavor. In a little while Peggy returned. When she entered the door, I could tell something was wrong because she was crying. In broken speech, she said, "I just broke my toe"! She was in terrific pain. She has done this before and knew the drill. Even though we talked about driving to San Antonio to the Emergency Room, she wanted me to get the tape and she taped the broken toe to a good toe. I made an ice pack, got some aspirins, and had her lay on the couch for the rest of the evening. This was not good for our impending transfer.
5/12 Today is special; on this day 35 years ago we were blessed to have twins, Julie and Scott. We wish them happiness this day, wherever they might be.
The day of transfer was upon us; moving all of our worldly possessions from one domicile to another. As they say, "stuff happens" and on this moving day we had our share of "stuff", a broken toe plus a slow drizzling rain. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the end of the day. We both were relieved that she could walk with her broken toe. I know she was in a great deal of pain, but she was a trooper for sure. I don't think I could have done this move by myself?
5/14 By 3 pm, after 3 days of continuous rain, I was desperately trying to get our last items moved and squeezed into any little available space. By 4 pm, we were lifting the jacks, releasing the air brakes and moving out. We returned to the Thousand Trail Park at Medina Lake, 30 miles away.
5/17 We spent a few days getting organized at Medina, and then departed for Canyon Lake this morning. Arriving at Potters Creek Canyon Lake campgrounds around 4:30, we found a quiet site on a sloping hillside surrounded by live oak trees overlooking the aqua marine water.
We enjoyed the evening sitting outside, watching the deer feed around us.
Close by was and a young squirrel who had discovered a hole in a large limb
and it appeared to be preparing the hole for its residence. It climbed in and
out; laid spread legged on the branch and then would run back into the hole.
I think it was as excited with its new home as we were with our's.
Bob & Peggy Woodall