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Everything’s bigger in Texas…literally…

January 7, 2010

See?

You should see the size of the dog I haul in my little red wagon.

Well, I spent my Christmas holidays in Texas (shock of all shocks), but more importantly, I spent my Christmas (and New Years) holidays visiting with my family.

Now. I should point out that my family is not necessarily “typical” – particularly for my DC friends. I come from (on my Dad’s side at least) a very … rural-based family. My paternal grandparents both grew up on farms, doing farmy-type things, and generally doing more with their two hands in a day than I have done in the last 8 years.

So upon their respective retirements, my grandparents elected to buy a ranch.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from peaceful Real County.

Not just any ranch – a 640 acre plot of land in thriving Real County, pronounced “ray-ahhl county,” where there are more rocks than grass, and more cedar trees than anything else.

Rocky. And hilly.

This property is home to the ranch house pictured above, the barn:

The barn.

A varied number of Fords and Jeeps:

Jeepie with eyes. AKA "The brown jeep."

The tractor. Old Blue.

The white Ford truck. It's a beast.

Camouflage Jeep. AKA "The Goat."

They also have a bulldozer.

Bulldozer.

Did you know it was possible to get a flat tire on a bulldozer? Well I didn’t either. But evidently, it is.

Granddad, fixing a "flat" track on the bulldozer. It's not actually flat - the rocks and things caused an internal chain to literally shear in two...but still.

Fixed track, waiting to be affixed to the bulldozer. I tried lifting this with my one hand...it's like, made of iron. And heavy. As all get-out.

The vistas at the ranch are phenomenally gorgeous, e.g. this stream:

The stream. Or draw. Whatever word you want to call it.

Or the “ice cream scoop mountain” – so dubbed because the walls of the canyon are carved out (by running water – yes, the water gets that high sometimes) in such a way as to look like a half gallon of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla with a few scoops dug out:

Ice Cream Scoop

Oh yeah. And the cows!

Peering at me...

And leetle cows.

"Whatcha doin?"

And sometimes itchy cows (er…bulls):

A little to the left...

And deer!

Hallo.

Now. Take a look at that picture – see the incredible detail? Looks like I’m just across the fence, right?

Well…advertisement time. This shot was taken with my mom’s new Nikon Coolpix camera, and guess how far away I was…

BAM!

SO cool, right??

Anyways, back to the other inhabitants…we also have The Grandparents.

The Granddad.

For those of you from Houston, doesn’t he strike you as resembling Crankshaft??? And note the overalls – he wears those almost every day of his life, with the exception of the days he goes to church.

And we can’t forget…

The Grandma.

My Grandma. The sweetest lady ever who can (all in a day) whip up a full meal for 12 plus dessert (always plus dessert, and always from scratch), haul grandchildren, animals, and injured husbands around the place in the rusted-out brown Jeep, and chop cedar trees* like a madwoman.

She’s the best inspiration a foodblogger could have, because she manages to generate phenomenal meals in a house where the kitchen has less counterspace than an efficiency apartment, where the men are huge and the appetites even bigger, and where the nearest convenience store is 30 minutes, 3 manual walk-gates, 2 bump gates, 3 dry-weather water crossings, and countless winding turns away. And did I mention no dishwasher? (Flash back to my first trip to the ranch, when I offered to help my aunt Nathalea with the dishes. I looked around confused and said, “But where’s the dishwasher?” Nathalea, without missing a beat, looked at me and said “They’re here” while waving her hands at me. Welcome to the ranch, city girl.) Whew. Impressive. But back to the other living creatures…

On this trip at least, there is…the BearDog.

Bear. The dog. He doesn't like having his picture taken.

Bear is my folks’ puppy, but he loves playing on the ranch – even if he does get stickers in his paws. 😦

And finally, one of the most prominent features of the ranch, after the rocks, hills, and cedar trees, is…

Rust.

It’s everywhere…in the yard…

In the form of an old broke-down smoker.

In the form of decorative horse-shoes and other assorted randomness…

That little spur is 2.5 inches wide, and we're guessing it belonged to a child at one point. All this stuff was found on the place when my grandparents bought it.

And on trucks which live on the property.

Isn't it somehow prettier this way?

Ahhh, rust. You stain my clothes and hands and you ruin metal equipment, but gosh you make pictures look rustic.

Hopefully you can see from these plentiful pictures that my Christmas vacation was incredibly fun, and a complete and total break from my busy city life.

It was peaceful…

Full of wildlife and livestock…

This one wasn't actually zoomed in - I was literally standing this close to this horn-ed cow.

And full of parental fun.

My crazy (awesome) parents.

So thanks, Real County, for the awesomely nostalgic, rural and hilariously fun time. I had a blast, and can’t wait to come back!

Quick Tourism Tip: if you’re ever headed to Texas for a bit of tourism, I highly recommend the tiny town of Fredericksburg. It’s a picturesque German-style walking town, with everything concentrated on one (aptly named) Main street. They have candy shops, souvenir shops, clothing shops, FURNITURE shops, and just about anything else you can imagine to want or need (including a realty group whose marquis was aimed at hunters looking for deer leases. Yes. This is Texas.).

We stopped in at the Fredericksburg Brewing Co. for a quick bite on our way back to Houston after spending five days at the ranch and had an absolutely delicious meal of bratwurst, schnitzel, and hamburger, complemented tremendously by house made brew.

Porter (up front) and honey cream ale.

These beers were actually awesome – complicated in flavor and satisfying in texture (even on a chilly day in December!). I highly recommend the honey cream ale – it was smooth and delicious (made with honey from the region!). My mom turned her nose up at it, and declared her (very dark) porter the clear winner, but hey…that’s a battle cry I’m happy with, as long as it lends itself to further sampling.

Enjoy!

*Cedar trees have this nasty habit of reaching their roots down deeeeep in the ground and stealing all the groundwater from other plants. This is a problem as this area is a recharge zone for an aquifer, so when the aquifer doesn’t get enough water, people can’t drink. So, the local government has a program where they pay you for an acre cleared of cedar trees, thus the obsessive cedar-killing on the ranch.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2010 12:10 pm

    Wow! It’s so good to see the ranch and all the places you always talk about in pictures! Very, very cool… reminds me a bit of northern Michigan (our kindred states) ;).

    • lisam permalink
      January 8, 2010 12:20 pm

      Aw, thanks Melissa! And yes – from what I know of Michigan, our states are twins separated at birth. 🙂 Just minus a few hundred inches of snow.

  2. January 8, 2010 12:13 pm

    Just to clarify, these pics look NOTHING like Michigan, but they ‘feel’ like Michigan… if that makes sense.

  3. January 9, 2010 2:31 pm

    A most interesting posting. Thanks for the photos.

    • lisam permalink
      January 12, 2010 12:14 pm

      Thanks for the compliment, Jim! Glad you enjoyed it.

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