Monday, November 07, 2005

Texas-Size Fun-(Part 4)


Saturday morning had most of our crew waking at various times before the crack of noon. At one point we were all on the back balcony overlooking the Guadalupe trying to recover in various ways from the revelry the night before. Several travelers had made their way down to the lobby to raid the free soft tacos that were rolled in foil under the hot lamp. I settled for a coffee and contemplated an early Bud Light from the styrofoam cooler-"beer, it's not just for breakfast anymore!" The topic of discussion was the series of "noise warnings" issued the night before by some small person acting with the "apparent authority" of the Inn management. As I lay in bed that morning, I noticed that I could hear almost every word said in the rooms next to mine and the inn seemed to amplify every sound made by anyone. The walls were paper thin as were the ceilings and a trip down the wood floor hallway with boots or other hard-sole shoes caused the whole place to vibrate as if there were a stampede. Scott and Cristina reported they were awakened by noise from the room above that they described a "people moving heavy furniture or running a bowling alley." After a soft taco run, Vin was at the front desk where she was told that the people calling in the complaints last night were given a full refund because of the so-called "interruption of their sleep" or whatever else they were trying to do and this dude had the nerve to sugget to Vin that perhaps our group could pull together some donations to make up for the financial "hit" suffered by the inn. You can imagine that we were less than enthused by that idea-"motion denied!"

We had had a small taste of the town of Gruene the day before and it was a unanimous decision to spend most of Saturday checking out the shops in this charming western town. We had lunch at Gruene River Grille-they put us in a dark backroom inside instead of on the porch overlooking the river due to the size of the group. The food was good and afterwards we wandered the streets of Gruene, checking out the shops-we found some lovely head gear at a place called Hunter's Junction. I made it a point to visit Lone Star Music, from which I had ordered dozens of CD's online. The clerk there was friendly and helpful on some good new tunes and suggested we check out a band called the Texas Renegades at Cheatham St. Warehouse in San Marcos playing that night. He reported the harmonica player was possibly the best had aver heard anywhere. We drove back into New Braunfels late afternoon and ended up at Scores Sports Bar again and watched some college football-our group included alums and fans of Clemson, U. of South Carolina, Wake Forest and the U. of North Carolina and different games were on screens throughout the joint. My neck hurt from trying to locate a score of the Wake Forest-Duke, "battle of the titans," which should have been over by the time we got in there. Randall wanted to find a pair of boots and since we were headed to San Marcos that night, we could hit the Cavender's Westernwear outlet there on the way. Back to the inn to get ready for Saturday night.

Fifteen minutes after leaving Gruene we were in San Marcos and found Cavender's easily as it sat directly off of I-35 north. It was damn impressive-probably more jeans and boots and shirts than I've ever seen under one roof-Randal and Vin bought cowboy boots and we also got a tip on a dinner spot, Lone Star Cafe, which looked from the outside like a chain-type place but had fantastic Tex-Mex dishes and huge portions. We were stuffed and I believe this is the point where we all kind of "hit the wall." As Randal and Vin took Kate back to the inn to rest (she is pregnant and still was quite the trooper), Scott, Cristina, Jane and me went inside
Cheatham St. Warehouse-one of the famous Texas music venues I had heard about for a long time- a place where folks like George Strait and Stevie Ray Vaughn cut their musical teeth. The rustic old building stood about a foot from a railroad track and twice that night locomotives roared past shaking the place to the rafters as the band played on. The grafitti in the bathrooms was priceless, Cristina and Jane came out giggling about the wisdom inscribed on the ladies room wall-"Men are like wine-they start out as grapes and you have to stomp the shit out of them to get anything useful." The men's room grafitti is not fit for this space-I give it an 'A" for originality and crudity. On our way out, Randall proudly recited verbatim, a lewd four-line poem from just above the men's urinal. It was the Saturday before Halloween and it seemed every one was in costume except us, unless you count Carolinian's with boots and cowboy hats as "costumed." Even the band was in Halloween attire and it was slightly disconcerting-like listening to the Village People singing Texas hick-rock. They were pretty good-the harmonica player 20 years old and just as advertised. We stayed for one set-it was painfully obvious that most of the gang was pooped. We piled back in the van, made it back to the inn and gleefully clomped down the hallway to the rooms. Randall, Vin, Jane and me made a mildly successful late night rally out on the side, apparently not disturbing any other guests with our muted revelry. It was a crisp, fall night on the deck overlooking the river-we could see the lighted Gruene watertower and from below in the dark across the river, the sound of live music wafted up. It was hard to let go of the last night in this special place.

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