Adventures are more memorable and precious when shared. That was my experience when meeting my cousin, Barbara, for the first time. Barbara and I have a mutual interest in our ancestors, and she invited me to her home close to Gruene, Texas, while I was in Austin. Not only is she a lovely lady inside and out, but she is also an experienced and informative tour guide.
We hopped on her golf cart and breezed to downtown Gruene. The Gruene Hall is the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas and has hosted many of the great music artists–the most beloved and famous for most Texans, George Strait. It was also the setting for the movie, Michael, starring John Travolta. The old wooden plank floors and weathered bar add to the charm of the vintage building. The faint echoes of music played over the years can be heard with closed eyes and little imagination. The autographed photos on the walls are a living tribute to all the talent that’s graced its stage.
The next stop for lunch was The Grist Mill where serious conversations were held over important family history–all amidst the glorious tree-canopied view of the Guadalupe River from our patio seating. The ease of our conversation with birds chirping and water flowing made the time pass quickly.
We made our way to the Gruene General Store, a nostalgic visit to the past with vintage toys, candy, canned goods, and an old-fashioned soda bar. We browsed other shops and received a free sample of Fickle Pickles. Trust me, they are irresistible. The jar I bought is already gone.
We spent the rest of the afternoon talking about our families, going through pictures, and imagining the life and times of our grandparents and their joys and hardships. We compared notes of family birthdates, deaths, and cemeteries. We shared memories and built a family fondness and friendship for one another.
Barbara invited me for another day of fun activities, and we met at Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas. It was a generous helping of mouth-watering food in a relaxed, comfortable setting. We had to get a picture by the BBQ pit! The meal was delicious and service fast and efficient. Our conversation was my favorite part of lunch.
Barbara took me on a lovely drive through Texas Hill Country along rolling hills, green pastures, picturesque waterfalls, and wineries. We ended up at the Texas Hill Country Olive Company. The gift shop and bistro was surrounded by an olive orchard, and we had to get our photos taken by an olive tree. Inside, we sampled innumerable olive oils and flavored balsamic mixtures with bits of fresh bread. We sampled savory, sweet, spicy, and rich combinations and tried to make impossible choices for our final selections for purchase.
We weren’t quite ready to say goodbye after the olive oil tasting, so we visited Wimberley, browsed through a few more shops, and enjoyed a cup of coffee to chat just a little bit longer.
Sadly, our visit came to an end and we exchanged goodbye hugs and promised to visit during our next trip to Austin.
Thank you for such wonderful memories, Barbara. I can’t wait to do this next year.
With love, Dawn
What fun you are having! Good for you!
What an adorable town.
Aww….! What an amazing young lady you are. I too have fond memories to cherish for the next time we meet! Many happy travels to you and Mike.. can’t wait for your next blog! Hugs
Hugs right back at you! Lovely time with a very special lady. Hope you are enjoying your time in LA!
What a nice visit you had. So happy for you that you were able to spend time with a new-ish family member.
I ate lunch at the Grist Mill too – it was the best part of my trip to Gruene.
Glad you’re getting to connect and re-connect with family on your journeys.