Welcome to Bandera Texas, the Cowboy capital of the world. No really, this is the real deal. Rodeo is a way of life here. This cute little town with covered board walks stretching in front of stores like the Gunslinger and General Store.
Thursday night is the steak fry where the locals bring their own meat to grill and can buy tap beer and set-ups and jaw with the neighbors. The Long Horn Saloon sometimes has live music but always has some two-step and roping going on.
Down the road a stretch is the best darn guest ranch in this whole united states. Take a right on Hay Holler road and enter the Rancho Cortez. Staffed by people who love what they do and who they do it for. For good reason, Larry Cortez is one good cowboy; strong and wise; kind and gentle.
We had a great room with a view of the barn from our own private porch. Looking in the other direction, you can see the dining hall, the outdoor pool and the hot tub; up the hill is the indoor pool, extensive workout area and hiking trails.
The ranch has so many horses and even some Texas long horns. I cannot wait to get into the ranch way of life.
The dining hall is named after a very special person to Cowboy Larry. Bud Fitzpatrick was born in 1914 in St. Paul, Minnesota-- imagine that! As a young boy he was plagued with pneumonia and the doctor said that if they didn't move him to a warmer climate he could die. The family packed into the Model T and headed south, straight south to Texas. The walls are filled with photos of this special Cowboy and his awards. In his long rodeo career, he helped the area gain notoriety in the Rodeo world. His son, Kevin, is a professional trick roper, also winning many competitions and awards.
A Greenhorn Wrangler’s First Day
Real cowboys, I am told, take care of their land; they see that their livestock are safe and well feed and they always take their hat off for a lady.
We checked in at 1:00, by 2:00 we were riding, by 3:00 we were chasing down a calf that had gotten away, by 4:00 we were taking the saddles off our horses and putting the horses out in the pasture , by 5:00 we were feeding the long horns, by 6:00 we were having dinner in the mess hall, by 7:00 we were around the campfire listening to cowboy stories, by 8:00 the youngins had left for the Long Horn Saloon and by 8:33 we were dead tired and fast asleep. Yee-ha, what a first day.
On our second day, we woke early, eager for more ranch activity. After breakfast we went on a long ride into the high country and saw some amazing vistas. On our return we were treated to personal riding lessons by non-other than Mr. Larry himself. I want to be a wrangler when I grow up. The clouds cleared away and exposed the bluest sky I have ever seen. We just had to go for another trail ride.
We have been treated more like family than paying guests. Alex and Brad took care of the horses after a big day of riding. The cook was busy fixing the third meal of the day. I, well, I took a nap.
Adventuresome Swiss Cowgirls
We have shared the ranch with the other guests, three girls from Switzerland who stayed in the cabin next to ours. Ramona, Tamara and Ajna are so cute, it was fun to share our experiences with them.
It was hard to believe that they were just 21 and here in the United States for a 6 month holiday. They explained that it is not unusual for young Swiss to explore the world. Some like them travel to the United States. Many Americans have not spent 6 weeks touring the US collectively throughout their whole lives. They had 22 more days then this trip that they were on would be over. They shared with us some of the fun and exciting places they had been. We are now Facebook friends so we can stay connected. New friends forever.
Y'all Come Back Now, Y'hear?
Y'all Come Back Now, Y'hear?
We are bittersweet on our go-home day; feeling better for our experience but sad to leave. Our hosts all lined up to give us hugs and wish us well on our journey. I know we will see each other again.
For anyone wanting a guest ranch experience, this is the place to go. Adults, kids, experienced or novice, the only thing that you need is a smile. The guests and the animals are both very well cared for.