Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Campgrounds & RV Parks, Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, RV Campgrounds
Camels and Cowboys in the Texas Hill Country
We decided to spend some time in the Texas Hill Country this summer. As usual, we started our visit by checking into our favorite Hill Country location, Buckhorn Lake RV Resort. From Kerrville, we decided to take a day trip to Bandera, Texas, the Cowboy Capital of the World.
There are two routes to take between Kerrville and Bandera. Highway 173 is the truck route, and is the shorter route. We chose 173 because it allowed us to stop at the Camp Verde General Store on our way. We arrived just in time for lunch, and the special of the day was a BBQ sandwich (a staple of the Hill Country); my wife chose the tuna salad on a sourdough roll. The food and service was excellent, and it took quite a while to wander through everything in the general store.
The historical significance of Camp Verde is that this was the location of the Camel Experiment—back in 1856, the camels purchased by then War Secretary, Jefferson Davis, arrived at Fort Camp Verde (about a mile from the current general store). By the end of the civil war, the experiment was deemed a success in that the camels out-performed the horses and mules currently used by the Army. The nation, however, had turned its attention to reconstruction, so nothing more was done with the camel experiment (if you want to see camels in the Hill Country, just east of Fredericksburg on 290 we saw some in a fenced area—more about Fredericksburg to follow in future blogs).
After our stop at Camp Verde, we completed our trip to Bandera for some shopping and sight-seeing. We’ve been to Bandera before. One time, while staying at Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, we joined them on a bus trip to the 11th Street Cowboy Bar on Wednesday night. On Wednesday they have live entertainment and “open grills” where you bring your own meat and cook it on their grills and they sell side dishes, such as baked potatoes, salad, and rolls. It was a lot of fun, especially since we rode the Buckhorn bus instead of driving; the people on the bus sang songs during the ride there and back.
This time we wanted to spend some time wandering into the many shops in the town. We noticed that they still had hitching posts at many of the businesses in town, and were told that it is not uncommon to see horses tied there by the cowboys who ride into town. And, on weekends you will always find a rodeo and other cowboy activities, maybe even a reenactment of the shootout at the OK Corral. One of the most interesting shops was the Gunslinger—a huge store filled with western clothes (including boots and hats), jewelry, furnishings, and accessories, with a knowledgeable and helpful sales staff.
After a few hours of shopping and some ice cream in the Bandera General Store at their old-fashioned soda bar (where we read the stories about all the ghost sightings in the store), we decided it was time to make our back to Kerrville. Highway 16 is the alternate route for the return trip, and is a windy road with beautiful views of the Hill Country.
And, that is how I happened to spend the day learning about Cowboys and Camels while exploring the Texas Hill Country.