On December 27, we left the bright lights and big city of Arlington and headed on to what is known as Hill Country. This area is for the cowboy-wannabes, as you can visit a dude ranch, enjoy a real chuck wagon dinner nearby, or like us – ride your very first horse at the age of 51.
The campsites are similar to a provincial park, large and well-kept, but we did have to drive a good 20 minutes to attractions. We did find that True Value Hardware, a relic from our childhoods, was just around the corner, as was a JR’s liquor and beer, and an “interesting” looking café (in this case, “interesting” might not mean what you’re thinking!)
As usual, we registered and got settled, but were distracted – by the DEER! We must have seen over 100 of them in the first hour we arrived. They were tame and friendly, and could be hand-fed (if you’re wondering, they eat nacho chips and cat food, sorry deer).
Unfortunately the pictures aren’t great at all (this was when I realized I must get my camera out and no longer rely on my phone) – but it was like a Disney film came to life.
The closest town was Bandera, and we booked our horse-riding adventure at the Flying L Hill Country Resort. Horses aside, we learned so much about the area, and we both mentioned that we wished we’d known about the town earlier. Bandera is the town where the original Cattle Drives of the 1860s started, and Dale Evans lived nearby. Roy Rodgers actually invested in the park we stayed at, we learned.
Bandera still has cowboy parades and stages pretend shootouts for cowboy fans. On the day we wandered around the short Main Street (lunch at the Chikin Coop), I felt like we were on a movie set for Little House on the Prairie.
At our horse-riding activity, the wranglers who ran the tour were very professional, and very fun. Our group was as follows: Family (mom, dad, 2 boys under 12 and gramma) family (mom, dad and 2 teenage girls), and us. Guess who had NO EXPERIENCE on a horse? Yup, just us. The wranglers were very witty, and at one point, while taking us all out to the stables in a wagon, one of them turned and confirmed “so you two will probably be getting Thunder and Trigger, ok?”. Everyone laughed.
It was so fun! I can see why they need your height and weight (ahem!) beforehand, as each horse matched each person’s needs. Not at all a straight or slow ride, we went up hills (lean forward), down small but rugged mountains (lean back and almost stand in stirrups), through 2 feet of water twice (got wet legs and wetter legs), and by the time we were done in about an hour, I had leaned over and hugged my horse quite a few times. I can’t wait to ride again! By the way, John got Gunsmoke and I got Trotter.
The actual RV park we were at didn’t have a lot of activities, and was very large and spread out. It was nice, and once again, quite rustic. We used the time to read, cook, relax and enjoy our hobbies – one of them new. John is now the proud owner of a Remote Control Race Car. At first I thought nothing of this, just a guy thing, right? One day when he was out there, I could hear kids and another dad, and a buzzy flying sound (RC Helicopter!) – – this is a thing, and I was laughing out loud when John whizzed his car up and down the road! We took a few trips to the local hobby shop, and soon we had all kinds of ideas around customization (Cowboys!) and I will admit, I thought about getting some old Ken dolls and dressing them up like Bo and Luke Duke – just for photos!!
Our next planned stop was also our very first month-long stay. We were heading to Portland, TX (not far from Corpus Christi).