280414 Deep in the Heart of Texas

140419 1 Downtown Texas140423 2 Our Shuttle140422 20 Zebras Greve140422 6 Cactus Flowers

About 12 months ago we had the pleasure of meeting Jim and Cathy Blackwell from Houston Texas and they kindly invited us to drop into Texas so they could show us their backyard. Well we took up the invitation and we certainly are so pleased we did as we saw a side of Texas neither of us were expecting - no tumbleweeds on this trip. 

Following a traditional family Easter celebrated in Houston in the company of their son Jay and his wife Emily and their two young children we headed off for San Antonio to collect other guests that also thought it was a good time to drop in - Bob and Carie Heath from Maine.  Given there were now six people travelling together complete with the Boller luggage a special vehicle was required and Jim and Cathy had it totally organised - a trusty "white van" had been pre organised - and that van went many places during the week that I am sure the vehicle never thought it was meant to or should go. 

First stop was at Five Star Ranches or Ranch One located South West of Houston near the small community of Three Rivers - debate is still on as to the name despite the fact they have been operating the ranch for near on ten years and have established a beautiful ranch house, complete with surrounding road system, catfish dam, feeding lots and hides. This ranch is testament to their dream and hard work - during hunting season, from late October through December, Jim and Cathy host groups to hunt deer and other animals on their property. Jim as the guide, Cathy as the hostess looking after their needs both in comfort and nutrition. We spent two days at this ranch where Lee was happy to shoot the wildlife just with her camera. The cactus that are currently the bane of Jims life provided a great camera opportunity as did the Zebras, birds and elusive deer.

140423 17 Ranch 2 Near Utopia Nyala Cow and Happy Bull

From The First Ranch we drove northwest to their fourth ranch located between the communities of Sabinal and Utopia. This property was only acquired last August but already Jim and his daughter Berri have been hard at work setting up animals in pens where they will hopefully breed and deliver for Jim and Cathy genetically superior stock with high quality antlers perfect for 

140424 25 Garner State Park

return to the first ranch and making future hunters very happy. 

140426 7 Texas Mountain Ranch visit Not what we expected to meet in Texas

We used the ranch as a base to drive out to among other places Garner State National Park, Maple Tree State Park and to the small communities of Uvalde, Bandera and Leaky. We were invited to the Texas Mountain ranch where we met the ranch owner Susie who had enthusiasm typically Texan - bigger than you can imagine. The Texas Mountain ranch blew us away in many ways - the animals mounted on the ranch living area wall were all accumulated from hunts around the world, the deer barn that was carefully designed to accommodate insemination, bottle feeding, to hospitalisation of deer, to the dinosaur footprints in the riverbed. The real surprise though of this ranch were not the deer, zebra, camels or  Allosaurus footprint, it was for us, definitely the kangaroos, particularly the infant roo in the lounge room in his diaper! The hospitality that we were shown when we arrived was truly what we came to know over the week as Texan - over the top hospitality. Gosh we even had a split pig prepared for baking delivered to the door from a neighbouring ranch twenty miles or more away just to ensure we had the chance to enjoy such a meal.

140427 5 The Alamo140426 33 Texas Mountain Ranch Cathy Jim Bob Carie Lee and Andrew

Our final stop on this Texan introduction was San Antonio home of The Alamo. It was somewhat surreal knowing that Davy Crockett (for many of our era just a television legend) was indeed a true character who joined the forces to face what was a definite fight to the death for the right to be Texan. The Alamo for Americans is a shrine representing the fight against injustice and for freedom to be American. It was for us as Australians a glimpse into the patriotism and the history of this part of America.

So ended an amazing ten days. We had sat in the bushes and watched the wildlife, we had sat on street benches and watched the people including an uncountable number of Bikers ride through, walked many a antique store, had a bucket of ice tea in the Maple Tree Cafe with local cowboys and enjoyed the memorable location and cuisine of The Laurel Restaurant of Utopia. 

We would certainly now say - "y'all should visit as y"all will have a good time".

But please do remember that only in Texas is it seriously "BIGGER"


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© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia