Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Texas Hill Country - Bandera

Trick roper Kevin Fitzpatrick demonstrates his skills.

Obviously, there are hills in the Hill Country but plan your trip right to travel on the level by letting horsepower - four-legged or -wheeled - do the climbing for you.

Bandera, population 967, where guest ranching began, is a great place to start traveling the Hill Country and Dixie Dude Ranch, one of the first, is the place to stay.

The ranch itself is on the level and your mount does the work in the hills. Even getting on is easy with a mounting "platform" that puts you above the horse. In our group were two adults who had never been near, much less on, a horse and while they discovered places they didn't know could hurt, loved the experience.

We headed nose to tail up into the hills and plateaued out over a lovely vista of rolling hills and native flora.

World Champion all-around trick roper Kevin Fitzpatrick entertained us with some fancy looping until it was time for the family-style dinner. That's when we realized how famous Dixie Dude is - there were guests from Spain, Germany, England, Minnesota and Florida.

Cabin accommodations are rustic but spacious, well appointed and comfortable.

Tip: Don't miss Wednesday steak night at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera. Locals bring their meat of choice and use the bar's many outside grills and large lineup of condiments to cook and season it perfectly. You can buy beverages plus sides from salad to dessert. Then the band kicks up and everyone dances, especially the locals and eventually the visitors. Fun, fun time and just the thing to loosen up those new muscles you discovered in the saddle.
Between rides spend an hour or so in the charming Frontier Times Museum. Get Director Jane Graham to tell you all about it and you won't want to leave. Everything has a story and she knows them.


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