Trip Start Mar 29, 2008
Trip End Apr 04, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hey; you've probably forgotten all about my little essay communication by now, but we all need a break now and then. Speaking of break's, it's spring break in the state of Washington and I've taken advantage of a standing offer to visit the Texas Hill Country from Garrett Sullivan, a player on our 1987 Lakeridge state title team. Let me tell you a little bit about my Texas trip.
Back in the 1950's my brothers and I would often watch Saturday matinee's at Portland's Paramount Theatre. It was typically Roy Rogers or Gene Autry in a cowboy flick and the ornate movie house was the perfect spot for some western riding and shoot 'em up stuff. Jump forward to 2008 and I'm sitting in Austin's Paramount Theatre enjoying a Jerry Jeff Walker concert courtesy of Garrett and his beautiful lady friend Shelly. The impressive theatre was the perfect venue for an intimate concert to celebrate J.J.'s birthday, sixty-six I think, and annual Texas bash. If you have a penchant for country music, and I do, it would be hard to find a better way to spend a Saturday evening in Austin. The rousing crowd, fortified by copious amounts of local beer, had little inhibition while exercising their right to celebrate the on stage performers. Jerry Jeff didn't disappoint as he rattled off one song after another. Juggling the program, my camera and sipping on my "Shiner", a real Texas beer, sitting next to Shelly and applauding the music took some coordination but I managed.
After the concert we visited the bar at the famous Driskill Hotel, built in 1886 by some cattle baron, where Mathew Mc Conaughey used to hang out and joined in the fun and a nightcap in the bar complete with cowhide couches, a dark mahogany bar with brass railings and pretty women. I was reminded of New Orleans as we drove back to the hotel through the crowds in downtown Austin's sixth street entertainment district. At night's end I looked out my room at the Hyatt overlooking Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin and couldn't keep from smiling at my good fortune.
Day two of my Texas tour was a delightful ride through the lake country outside Austin. The Colorado river runs through Austin not unlike the Willamette does through Portland. The difference is the good folk in power in Austin dammed the river in seven spots creating seven lakes of varying sizes and shapes. I've been to Italy many times of course and to say I was surprised to find Italy in Texas would be an understatement of the highest degree. Red tiled roofed homes built of stone surround much of the lake's shoreline's. Some of them would fit right in in Europe. Many have bright azure blue pools on decks and patio's facing the natural water of the Colorado. Basically all that was missing was Italian spoken with a southern drawl. Ok, if you've not been to Italy imagine Lake Oswego, times one hundred and you'd be pretty close.
Before driving back into the city, we finished our day glancing at the Kansas vs Davidson Elite Eight game while sipping on margarita's and munching nachos in the bar at the Oasis restaurant. We could just as well have been overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean as Lake Travis while watching the sunset over the top of colored umbrellas covering the thousand or so tables on the multi tiered patio of the huge refurbished restaurant. The original was destroyed by a lightning strike started blaze two years ago.
We spent some time at the UT football facility. A typical D-1 complex filled with coaching offices, weight rooms, training areas, meeting rooms, motivational phrases painted on walls and memorabilia of past stars. The difference here is nearly everything is bigger, which would be fitting for a Texas image. Most of the rooms were burnt orange and beautiful mahogany woodwork. Trophies of championships and photo's of famous former longhorn stars were plentiful. The coaches were all in a meeting, one of the things they do very well and quite often at this level but we were assured this one was an NCAA necessary evil. I'm sure it was. So we were escorted through coach Brown's majestic office complete with cowboy mementoes.
As we left the facility an elder gentlemen, the voice of Longhorn sports, stopped us and pointed out a few things about the current addition on Memorial Stadium. They are enclosing the end opposite the football team area we had just left to make it what is called in the football world a 'horseshoe' stadium seating capacity a little over 100,000. It will be loud! Over the area where the players enter the stadium is the worlds largest jumbotron. Big screen TV about the width of the field and nearly as tall as the building it hides. The gracious man opened the gate to the field and Garrett took a picture of yours truly leaning on the same goal post that did Darrel Royal the legendary coach who returned the Longhorns to glory in the late fifties and early sixties, winning two national championships in the process. So I've got that going for me!
I spent some time at the state capitol building dodging third graders being lectured to about the state of the union or something while Garrett tied up a few loose ends at his office. One of us has to work. And then walked along the 6th street entertainment district. Honkytonks and bistros galore featuring country, jazz and blues music were lined up on both sides of the street one after another.
We headed west out of town and into the hill country, which as you might guess has a lot of hills. Actually very impressive in a western sort of way and it was easy to imagine cowboys on horseback driving a heard of cattle north. We passed through Fredericksburg and just before Kerrville we took a quick detour to see Luckenbach, famous for Willie, Waylon and the Boys throwing country music bashes amidst the oak trees and green grass in the middle of .... Ok, nowhere.
Before arriving at our final destination, about two hours west of Austin, we turned south on Texas highway 16 following the trail that John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Gregory Peck, Ok real cowboys did, through the Medina-Bandera valley while heading the heard north to Abilene and eventually into Dodge City Kansas to deliver the livestock to the awaiting railroad. It was easy for me to picture the Duke, Monty Cliff and Walter Brennan doing just that in the western movie classic "Red River".
Garrett's ranch, easily the smallest in the area, is made up of grassland and large oak trees surrounded by wire fencing to hold the critters in or out. Didn't seem to deter the wild turkeys or the antelope though. His property is set among larger ranches most of which are hundreds of acres.
In the evening we drove up the adjoining hill overlooking the entire valley for dinner with Doc and Jeannie Hedreen. She is originally from Texas and he from Delaware. They met in college at Vanderbilt where Doc was a football and track athlete. Their spread and view is awesome and more friendly people would be hard to find. Doc has built a multi-tired artificial putting green below the backyard patio and he has little turf tee boxes located around the area he uses to practice chipping. I managed to keep one of the fifteen or twenty shots I hit on the green but it was a unique experience. The Texas ribs we enjoyed fresh off the bar-b-q actually did fall off the bone. We spent a wonderful evening talking Texas history, telling golf stories and getting to know one another. Delightful!
We spent some time driving the hill country stopping for food at places like the "Chuckwagon Café," the "Old Spanish Trail," the "Silver Dollar Saloon" and the "11th St. Cowboy bar" where you grill your own steak. We usually topped off our food with a Texas beer, or two. All this in and around Bandera, population 987 and the cowboy capitol of the world, it looked just as you would imagine it.
We also enjoyed a delightful horse ride around Doc and Jeannie's ranch. Doc bought the place eleven years ago and has spent that time clearing and building. It's a beautiful five hundred acre plot of hilly land, green with springs new growth. They have an elk heard, a few horses, wild pigs and turkeys and birds nesting in the abundant Oak and Pistachio trees. Piles of cut down Cedar trees to be burned are visible in the newly cleared areas. Pistol, my mount, and me managed to get around the ride without incident, probably because I'm such an expert horseman. Not. More likely, because Pistol tool pity on me and in spite of my forty extra pounds decided to play the good guy. Thanks Pistol!
After the horse ride Doc drove us up to the top of a nearby hill on a freshly built dirt road. The views of the Texas Hill Country are spectacular. He took us past the original Kyle Ranch built in 1928 and told us the story of how he came to purchase the property. He had looked for two years in Colorado before he decided to try the Hill country and once he saw the property simply put down the asking price and hasn't looked back. I have no idea what he paid for the place but I would guess after his eleven years of work the place is worth ten times whatever amount he doled out.
Garrett met Doc and Jeannie twenty years ago when one of his good friends married their daughter. Now living across Kyle Ranch Road from each other the friendship has only gotten stronger. For me to be included in their circle of friends, even for a few days, in very special. Texas has new meaning to me now and when Doc told me to come back soon and we'd play some golf, I told him to be careful what he asked for. Hey, enjoy the day. coach
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