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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bandera, TX: Cowboy Capital Trip Report...

When our kids were younger we would occasionally take a drive up Highway 16 past Helotes and into Bandera in order to go into the Dairy Queen, grab an ice cream and come back home. I know, we have numerous DQ's right here in our part of San Antonio, but the drive is just so nice. Once when my parents visited, we even went beyond the DQ and actually took a tour of the little museum they have in Bandera.Today, just on a whim, we decided to enjoy the cool weather and run up the road and maybe grab some lunch. In the end, the lunch plans didn't work out, but we did have a really enjoyable time checking out several shops and and chatting with shopkeepers. We've been several times just for the drive, but it has been a few years since we actually stopped and walked around, so of course, I took plenty of pictures. Too many to post here, but if you are interested, please check out the Flickr page here.

If you are not familiar with San Antonio, it may be helpful to know that we are on the edge of what is considered the Hill Country. No, you probably won't find anyone skiing or snow boarding around here during the winter (though, I suppose it could happen), but we do like the fact that by heading just a few miles up the road, you can get a pretty enjoyable change of scenery. And of course, as an extremely fast growing part of the country, San Antonio residents as well as newcomers seem to be pushing north to enjoy the hilly landscapes and for the time being, wide open country. Don't worry, by the way, Texas is HUGE. We can easily absorb the influx of new people in terms of space, though the fact that we live in a desert may have some impact on the amount of water each new person is allowed to drink. You new people each get one Dixie cup a day.
Highway 16 takes you up a fairly smooth drive with easy curves and little traffic; it is obvious why motorcycle enthusiasts love the trip. Unlike any trip up I-35 toward Austin or Highway 281 toward Boerne and Johnson City, the trip to Bandera is not frustrating at all. Once in the town of Bandera, you'll find enough traffic to suit you. We took a drive up and down the main street then decided to park and walk for a while. We parked for free in the parking lot of a church on 11th Street that is open to the public. How neighborly. Of course first, my wife had to pee, so we went into this nice little public restroom and park with benches etc. In case you aren't sure, Cowgirls go in one side of the restroom and Cowboys go in the other. The pictures are there to help you sort it all out.After the nice visit to the restroom, I found these two little tidbits humorous. First, if the stickers on the Jeep are any indication, Bandera didn't support Obama! The other thing was, I don't generally associate Cowboys with Pizza, but who knows? Maybe these buckaroos know how to pile on the anchovies. Our first stop was Bandera General Store, a sort of gift shop and soda fountain. Lots of cool touristy things to look at and for some people, to buy. After checking out the place, we decided to sit down at the bar and get coffee. As we enjoyed the atmosphere we read the ongoing list of haunting by the General Store ghost, apparently named Henry. How quaint.As we were leaving, I noticed a few things in the window worth reporting. First, people in Bandera can get caught up in celebrity sightings just like the rest of us. Oh wait; remind me, why is Paris famous again? And the folks around Bandera have a sense of humor. Texas Hold 'em? I'll say.We stopped in a few more stores, mostly lots of crafty home decor kinda places. You know, the stuff you look at and say, damn, I could make that. But really, you probably can't.We were in a higher end place called Sassaphrazz and they had some really nice looking leather items. I confess to liking the feel of a throw pillow with real cow fur on it. I guess it isn't really fur, but you know, the hair that is on a cow. We got to talking to the ladies in there and turns out, they are attending the same Alan Jackson concert we are at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo this year. In spite of the small world, we didn't find any home furnishings we couldn't live without.This is interesting. Here is a little replica of Judge Roy Bean's Jersey Lilly.And this apparently is Judge Bean's party barge.We walked by the famous 11th Street Cowboy Bar but instead moved along without partaking. Maybe when we stay the night in Bandera and can walk home.Next to it, we stopped into an antique store where my wife bought a few small items just for fun. She picked up one of those old Campbell's Soup thermoses to send my daughter and some little chicken thing to hang from her visor.After shopping, we could have easily dined at one of the many great places in Bandera, but actually, we had seen a place on the way up just north of Pipe Creek that caught our eye called Country Accents Antiques & Steak House. What?

I know, if you want to catch somebodies attention, I'm not sure I can think of a better name. Anyway, there was a lot of action taking place inside. They seemed to be remodeling or moving in or something but regardless, lots of really, really cool stuff inside, and the people were very friendly.
They had this huge dog that was standing near the back door to the place and my wife and I looked at the dog, then looked around a little more and decided that we could not find where the steak was within the shop. Finally, I asked a lady if we should let the dog out and she said sure, and we could also go out back to see the rest of the place and the little restaurant. She was telling us that everything was for sale.We found the restaraunt and believe me, she wasn't kidding; everything was for sale. The tables were made up with napkins and placemats and ready to go, but all the stuff had price tags on it. Say you really enjoyed the table they seated you at, you don't get just a doggy bag (sorry), you also can take the table, chairs and the setting with you. Unfortunately, nobody was in the restaraunt to feed us, so that pretty much killed the idea of eating there.The back yard of the place was really nice and of course, filled with all sorts of antiques to buy. I saw this tub for $175 and immediately had thoughts of painting a Texas flag on it but then I figured, what the heck would I do with that.In the end, we decided to head back toward Helotes to grab some food since we were starting to really get hungry. We stopped into Babe's since we hadn't been to the Helotes location, and munched on some seriously bacon covered bacon cheeseburgers and an order of onion rings.The new Babe's in Helotes is basically like the old Babe's on Fred Road, just newer. I had to keep all flames away from my beard as it was soaked with greasy mayonaise and bacon cheeseburger goodness, and I mean that in a good way.

By the way, I left off a few of my new wooden nickles in some of the places we stopped at today. If you found one and are visiting the blog for the first time, I hope you'll send me a note or leave a comment.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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