Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Traveling Adventures in Hicktown, South Texas

Willie's Place at Carl's Corner entrance
I mentioned last week that Isaac and I were given a weekend getaway at a bed and breakfast in South Texas. We LOVED it, and not only because of the bed and breakfast part! We love to explore and travel, and at times Texas may as well be a country of its own. It was good to get a healthy taste of small-town Texas!

 On the drive down we stopped to get gas at "Willie's Place", which turned out to be a cafe/museum/gas station dedicated to Willie Nelson.It was SO HICK.So hick, in fact, that you could buy bandannas with braids attached.

I am clearly not truly Texan, because I don't think I've ever listened to Willie Nelson. I just know he's famous for being a great country singer. Mostly I think he just looks old and hick.

 We had an odd experience first at Willie's Place, where Isaac stepped to the counter and rendered the check-out lady speechless for a moment. 'Ohh.... umm... wow.... you look so dressed up in that long coat."  haha! He was just wearing a gray scarf and a long black coat - classic Chicago look. Apparently it's odd enough in the land of coyboys and hicks to render a cashier speechless. This was confirmed while we were eating dinner in Austin and a classy looking African-American couple was seated next to us. Their hostess said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question? Are you from around here? Oh you are? You just looked so nice and put together with your long coats and Texans are usually wearing about 10 layers of mismatching clothing in the cold, I figured you had to be from somewhere else. " So funny and odd to realize how out of place we are in our Chicago styles.

After driving through the middle of nowhere for a couple of hours, we made it to our bed and breakfast, which was an old plantation-style mansion. The owner was gone, he left it unlocked for us. Who leaves a MANSION unlocked? Apparently you do in the middle of nowhere! It was gorgeous. The odd thing was that it was owned and operated by a gay couple. I didn't expect a small town like Gonzales, TX to fully accept a gay couple to the extent that they would stick around, but I guess they have!

Belle Oaks is an old mansion, built in 1912. For all my friends from England, this is actually considered super old here! In any case, the building and grounds were very nice but what was truly stunning was the decor and antiques that were EVERYWHERE. I felt like I was in a game of Clue. Here's Isaac in the conservatory with the candlestick. Nevermind.

The grounds were pretty but not perfect given that it's the winter. That added to the spooky factor a little.

Isaac is a full time grad school student and although he was looking forward to our getaway, I had to promise that he'd be able to get work done over the weekend, so we spent quite a bit of time like this, working on homework.

Actually, I picked up a brochure for a coffee shop that surprised me. It said the owner had travelled the Middle East and Europe during a career a corporate career, and settling down in Gonzales had allowed him to fulfill his dream of opening up a coffee shop that served a quality cup o' joe. That and the free wi-fi sounded good to us, so we drove over... and nearly missed it. It wasn't exactly what I expected.

Greg's Coffee Shop:

On our second drive past this building I looked closer and saw this sign:

Classy, eh? HILARIOUS. The guy is running a computer store and coffee shop out of this old building while simultaneously remodeling. It was so ramshackle and awesome, I loved it. And turned out he also was a seminary grad who knew Greek and Hebrew and had quite the personal story as well! You never know what you'll find in a small town.
Gonzales, Tx
I love it when what everyone calls the "downtown" looks like this!

How can you have a downtown when the rest of the town is all within a 10 minute drive? There were approximately four restaurants in the whole town. We took a driving tour, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The very center of town is actually a super cool courthouse.

Gonzales County CourthouseGonzales is "famous" because they were the "Lexington of Texas", and the first battle of the war for Texan Independence took place here. Apparently the Mexicans had a cannon that they'd given to the little town/fort of Gonzales so they could defend themselves, and when hostilities grew with the settlers the Mexican army came to get the canon and Sam Houston came to fight them. They actually burned the whole town in retreat and it was rebuilt later.

One thing we laughed at... there were like six churches all within three blocks of each other. One had a sign about their "missions" to the people "downtown" versus their other remote location. We drove past it on our way out of town - they were 10 minutes away from each other!

It's fun to roam around and discover things like this tiny house, which was one of the first homes in Gonzales. Isaac wouldn't have fit in it. It has two rooms that something like six people lived in. The one on the left is the kitchen/dining room/living room, and the one on the right is the bedroom.

Super fun. I loved the taste of Texan history. It really is so crazy that they used to be their own nation, that they had their own war for independence. I appreciate the small towns too - I'm envious of the intimate communities and shared history and stability!


Alice said...

Wow, that B&B looks gorgeous! Glad you guys had a good time (and look super-dressy in cold weather)!!

Annie Peterson said...

Someday I have got to go to Texas!

Jaimie said...

Re: (double posted on my blog)

Invictus = Matt Damon with an accent. Haha, it’s all subjective. In my opinion, his character in Invictus wasn’t developed enough to be noteworthy either way.

I haven’t seen A Mighty Heart, but I heard she was good. Her problem isn’t her acting as much as her super-weird face. Brad Pitt, who has a normaler face, can play the craziest, most immersive roles. And yes, I am only comparing them because they’re married.

lilian said...

oh looks SO nice! Good to have a get away!