🤠 Bandera, Texas 🤠

25 Jun

BANDERA, TEXAS  —   My Mecca ❤

 

Directly from Austin, this is a 4 hour trip but we took the long way.  Kyle told us “Anything north of Kernville is a yankee.”  (Kernville is one of those red dots on the map.)

 

As Team Show on the Road is want to do, we got ready in a Burger King bathroom before heading to one of the five bars in literally all of Bandera.

My friend and I!  Out celebrating!

 

The faces of two cowgirls ready for adventure.

 

We chose the first bar by pure intuition, but before we even stepped inside, some woman who was talking on the phone outside directed us to another bar, which she said had better music. So that was one bar down, four to go. We ended up at The Red Horse Saloon, sharing earplugs, and if you can’t tell what kind of place it is by the name, then you’ve never seen a cowboy movie in your life. Nancy had told me to tell the bartender it was my birthday (because it was) and I’d get a free drink. And, in true traveler fashion, we met some friends: Carla, Elbert, and Don.  Our new cowboy friends were so much fun to be around and changed the course of our night — they were very kind, gentle, respectful, and encouraging. They even taught us how to two-step!

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Molly dancing the two-step.

The small town feel was something you’d see in an episode of Gilmore Girls, except the country western version. For example, they held a raffle and the person who won wasn’t at the bar to collect it, but all the patrons at the bar knew the winner so they just saved the prize to give to them later.  The personality of the band members matters in a community bar like this one. The singer kept calling me up on stage and, in order to not get even more attention, I had to go but that was my least favorite part.

 

It was such a small town, the residents couldn’t believe that we just came here on our own volition, for vacation, without having any reason…
“Wait, so…you came to Bandera as tourists?”  Yup!
You don’t have any family here?”  Nope!
“You just picked it off the map?!” I mean, I did some research..

 

The best Band-era. (that’s a bad pun with the word Band and Bandera)

 

So after that live music ended, we decided to head over to another bar — Arky’s Silver Dollar — with Carla where there was sawdust on the ground. She introduced us to Arky (from the name of the bar) but when we were greeted by the cast of Sons of Anarchy, we realized this biker bar probably wasn’t our scene. Again, on intuition, we chose another bar one block away (2 bars to go) and hoped that we’d be able to find anyone our own age. All of Bandera is only a couple of blocks long. Of the 5 bars in this town there were 3 bars we could choose from downtown, all walking distance, which felt like a bonanza.  We were going to make the best out of anything (we were having fun) but where did the young adults hang out? Where was our crowd? So far, we hadn’t seen anyone under the age of 50 chilling in Bandera during the weekend.

Texans love to dance and we were having a blast.

 

But it was there at that 4th bar that we saw some young cowboys.  And they saw us. They sauntered over to us with their cowboy hats, boots, and their lone-star-studded belts.  “Hey little ladies,” they said, “you’re about the hottest, darn girls in this here saloon.” Ok, maybe they didn’t talk like a cartoon version of themselves (but yes, they did).  And it was supposed to be a compliment, but we had a huge laugh because their pickup line was pretty much equivalent to “you’re the hottest girls in this nursing home,” with all due respect to everyone who had brought us there.

The boys danced with us and everyone was working on the two step.  Even though I could not figure it out, my partners were patient. Each time Zane complimented me, I messed up without fail, and we had to start over.  Which was hilarious to me and tolerable to him.

 

🤠🤠 cowboys

 

So we danced all night in this very rural town — with two step — with live country music, and some cowboys until sadly, eventually, the bars closed and we hung out in the streets of Bandera, Texas.  It was a very memorable birthday. Molly was outside of the bar in her happy place — this birthday trip was turning into a wild (Wild West) success. I was loving the cowboy look and vibe just as much as I thought I was going to, if not more.

Home Sweet Home.

 

The boys had only been to Bandera 2 or 3 times this year (they lived in a town about 40 minutes away called Hondo). They said that where they live is the type of place you town hop instead of bar hop because that’s where the other bars are: in other towns. Doesn’t get any more small town Texas than that. I loved it.

The boys asked where we were staying (which was the luxurious back-seat-of-our-car inn) and we replied with a vague “just down the road.”  They had some space at their ranch where we could spend the night if we wanted.  An invitation to an authentic Texan ranch from really nice authentic cowboys? Yes please!

And then as we drove our rental on these big empty, Texas dirt roads behind multiple trucks to follow these nice guys to their ranch, we saw a Trump sticker on one of my favorite of the guys’ trucks. We weren’t surprised, but I definitely made a mental note to avoid talking politics if I could help it.

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Wide open spaces are great; the dixie chicks were so right.

Shadow of cowboy Sam haunts these here parts.

 

Waking up in the ranch.  Notice the animals heads hanging on the wall.

 

The next morning, I literally woke up laughing. I could not believe how well my birthday had gone. An ice cream festival to THIS!  Wow. I decided that I hadn’t grilled the guys enough about small town life. I wanted a taste of it because I assumed it would taste like hard work, sweat, and sweet tea. Who doesn’t want that? So I asked them the basics first: when was the last time you’ve seen a snake? (Zane couldn’t remember); Will you call me ‘little lady?’ (the answer was ‘absolutely, little lady.”). They also talked about Mexico and how they had gone hunting there before. Zane said he had caught something and brought it back. I asked him if it spoke Spanish. And said “so I guess it didn’t need a green card?”  This was my transition into the tougher questions like: Where are the immigrants being separated from their kids? To this question, Zane got out a map and showed me the area then asked Kyle just to confirm, to which Kyle denied that it was even taking place and that it was the liberal agenda carried out by the media.

So I guess they had had enough grilling, because Zane flipped the tables and asked me some questions. “What do you think about our president?” To which I answered, thinking about the bumper sticker, “we probably shouldn’t talk about politics.” He said he was a Republican though he didn’t care too much for Trump; I said I hated Trump, and we left it at that. Molly was smart, because her response was: “I don’t want to talk about politics with you guys, I can see the heads hanging on the wall.” We all laughed (some of us more uncomfortably than others). Good call, Moodel.

Rattlesnakes were the next best topic of conversation (after we saw a scorpion in the sink), and we figured out that rattlesnakes were the reason the sexy cowboy boots exist. We also found out that all of these cowboys knew each other because their ancestors founded the town. There was a picture of two of their grandfathers back in the day; Zane said his grandpa wasn’t in the picture because he was the one taking it!  

 

Side note:  Molly and I bought our own pair of matching cowboy boots.  I LOVE THEM SO MUCH, OH MY GOODNESS. We bought them at a Texas-sized outlet mall in a shop called Boot City! The clothes may change, but the accessories will remain the same…boots and belts with a big buckle.  Also turquoise is my new favorite color.

 

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We bought matching cowboy boots.

The boys invited us to go out onto the lake with them in their boat. We parted ways with them (they were going to fix up the boat, and we were going to eat breakfast tacos).  Kyle said “okay, this is where you go right and we got left.” “So, the opposite of our political views?” I smiled. “Haha, yup, we’re going to go and try and see it from the others perspective and meet back up in the middle.”  

We finally got cell phone service and canceled our plans on the river with Carla, telling her, instead, we had agreed to let the cowboys show us around (Carla, if you’re reading this, IT WAS SO NICE TO MEET YOU!!!! Thank you and Elbert and Don for making my birthday so special <3).

 

Breakfast tacos.

 

On the way to Lake Medina, we had had enough of talking so we listened to Pat Green and made up a song about how we were the four best friends that anyone could have because we realized that they were best friends, and Molly and I are best friends. It made the day so easy, because we were just a pair of best friends hangin out and doin best friend things. “We’re the four best friends that anyone can have, the four best friends that anyone can have.”  It was heaven on earth…and here we were thinking you had to die to go to heaven. Molly and I snuggled and confirmed how straight we are. Definitely straight. Molly and I had such a great trip together.

 

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They’re best friends, and we’re best friends, and they’re best friends, and we’re best friends!  We called ourselves Team First Try because that’s when we were hoping the engine would start. We were Team (engine will start on the) on the First Try!

Once we actually got on the boat (which was pretty rickety as demonstrated by the story I’m about to tell), the motor caught on fire twice. But both the boys looked really calm, so we didn’t freak out. “I don’t look like a guy who’s boat engine just caught on fire — just for a little while.”  – Kyle

 

The second time, it caught on fire a little bit more, and the motor cover actually fell off and just sank, and the guys were incredulous. They looked sunken like a motor cover themselves. It was hilarious; we tried not to be so giddy, we were laughing so hard.  

But this gave way to our next chant — the one that would follow our best friend song. And it goes a little somethin’ like this:

Who don’t need no motor cover??? We don’t need no motor cover!!

“It’s hell when the motor catches on fire, eh?”, cruising on Lake Medina.

 

We chanted that all during our swim sesh. Right as we started the chant, the umbrella that was protecting us from the absolutely ruthless sun somehow blew off, landed in the water, and started to sink. Zane yelled to grab it, and I swam for it. I grabbed it, and it was terribly heavy as it sank, but all of a sudden, I received superhuman strength and was able to pull it up. Only, it wasn’t superhuman strength. The umbrella had just detached from the pole, and I only pulled up the staff. Molly was laughing so hard she was having trouble swimming. She tried to get to the boat to hang out and when she finally got there she let out the loudest laughs. Was this the sun’s revenge for the coffee stunt we pulled earlier that weekend? Well played, sun.

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“I thought you had to die to go to heaven.”  – Molly

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All hat and no cattle type of cow girl.

On the boat we had a cooler, but somehow we still ended up drinking a couple of hot mic ultras, which were extra bubbly.  Served hot was fun too. We were just happy about everything.

After swimming, Molly and I had to say fare-thee-well to our cowboys and head to a dude ranch where we booked a night to stay. At the dude ranch, we ate a dinner of cold meatloaf, lots of smores, drank gross tasting water, saw a donkey with goiters, met a French au pair “couple” where I was attracted to the man in a cowboy hat at night but by day, sans cowboy hat, I thought the lady was more of a beauty. We also had our first shower of the trip (this was going to be a no hair washing and one shower type of vacation for us), we slept for 8 hours (unheard of!), and in the morning we rode horses.

 

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A horse is a horse, of course, of course.

Before going on the trip, Molly and I had pretty much agreed that we were going pantless for this trip. But when we got to the dude ranch…it was the first time we thought we might have made a mistake.  Did we have to wear pants to ride the horses?? We used a towel tied around our legs instead, which got vetoed, and we realized that it was fine, we don’t need pants to ride horses. A no-pants trip was the right idea!

 

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The horseback riding was cool — and it was hilarious (and relatable) how much the horses loved eating from the oatbags — but it was a bit long. My horse, Shorty, did not want to follow the directions. I assume it’s because I’d just turned 31 and this was an angsty teen horse who wasn’t into authority. Shorty even tried to buck me off; he could tell it was my first rodeo. I did get that birthday buck after all (wink).  But luckily, a more experienced rider decided to switch with me, and it was smooth horse riding after that.

 

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Bandana outside of Bandera.

So after the dude ranch, we headed back to the airport. Molly liked driving these big open roads, and we searched for a place to get a wine opener because we wanted to try that great Texas wine that we had bought and assumed we would love. But before we made it, we stopped to get our last bbq of the trip.

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Long live Texas BBQ!

 

I got some to go, and let me tell you, airport security was really suspicious of my pulled pork and jalapeno sausage from Randy’s (but really, they probably wanted to confiscate it so they could have a snack during their work break).  It was sooooo good! At Randy’s, they had greeted us with a cheer and free samples including sweet, creamy corn, which we subsequently ordered and banana pudding for dessert). It was also at the airport when Team Show on the Road struck again! We were able to squeeze in enough time for a drink before our flight. The last thing we had in the car that was useful were those empty water bottles. We felt like asterisk humans, except for that healer who wouldn’t take no for an answer. But that was on him; we were fine.

I left this trip feeling very validated in choosing Texas as my birthday destination. It was the absolute best place to go with my best friend who makes my life better. SO GLAD WE DID THAT! It was also amazing to go somewhere that you thought you’d like, but come away loving it even more than you thought you would. We felt like we were doing a victory lap (with lots of slow claps) on the way from Bandera driving back to Austin. This was such a rejuvenating, idyllic, heavenly, euphoric, out-of-body experience sort of trip, and I will cherish this one ALWAYS. Texas forever!

‘mi, the yankee 🤠

 

 

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Wow-ed girl and cowboy.

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Tipping my hat to you, little lady!

 

 

One Response to “🤠 Bandera, Texas 🤠”

  1. deekerson August 11, 2018 at 4:17 pm #

    Loved the entire episode. Especially loved the following two lines:
    – Shadow of cowboy Sam haunts these here parts (incl. photo).
    – “I don’t want to talk about politics with you guys, I can see the heads hanging on the wall.”

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