Thursday, May 15, 2008


1) Keep driving around and checking back periodically if a restaurant or business had not opened it's doors on time.

2) Pull up next to a very rough-looking couple on a Harley, roll down my window, and strike up a conversation with them.

3) Go into restaurants alone and plop
myself down at the bar, in order to have more people to visit with.

Last week, I did all three of these things, in one hour! After having taken Paula and Tim to dine at Frank's Bait and Taco the previous weekend, I decided I needed to go back and do a little more research. I headed out to Canyon Lake on Wednesday, at lunch time. I got there around 11:15, but the place looked deader 'n a doorknob. In Houston, if a restaurant wasn't open for lunch by eleven, you had to assume they weren't going to be open for lunch, but here, things are a little more flexible. I decided to drive around for a while and come back. When I did, I found the aforementioned biker couple sitting in the lot, but the place still looked dead. I decided to see if they knew something I didn't.

Turns out they had come here for a bike rally the previous weekend, and are big fans of the Food Network Show Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins. They had stuck around after the rally to check out some of our Hill Country dives, including one up in Tarpley that had been featured on the show. Imagine that, me and this huge hulk of a guy with the long grey braid and doo-rag, sharing a passion for Food Network!

When the restaurant still wasn't open by 11:35, I was ready to give up, but his woman said "I think I see a light inside," and went to take a closer look. A short time later we heard voices, then she came back to wave us in. As we were disembarking from our respective vehicles - I from my Mini Cooper and he from his Harley - his eyes went back and forth between them, then he called to his partner, saying "Well, wha' d'ya know? My bike is the same size as her car!" And it was.

Once inside, the couple stood transfixed in wonder, and I went over to sit at the bar (though not really a bar, as they don't serve alcohol). When dining alone in Houston, I always sat in a corner and pulled out a crossword puzzle, to avoid having to interact with anyone around me. Now I find myself, more and more, actually seeking out conversation. Here is what I discovered by visiting with Beauty Chain that day, daughter of owner Eddie Swan and his wife/chef Frenchie: Originally Frank's was just one of many smokey beer joints out by Canyon Lake. Then it was purchased by Eddie and Frenchie, who kept the name and added the flying-fish-wiener logo, but nixed the smoking and alcohol. Now you get good fresh food, and bait. Oh, and mind-boggling decor. Eddie has traveled the world as a volunteer for Texas Baptist Men, responding to emergencies of war and disaster. Everywhere he goes, he picks up stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Now it covers every inch of every surface in the restaurant.

The menu includes good burgers, steaks and chicken-fried steaks, and plenty of Tex-Mex. I doubt if you will ever see a Sysco Food Services truck in their parking lot, as the tortillas and salsa were made by hand, the lettuce and tomatoes on the tacos were fresh, the tortilla chips were hand cut and straight out of the fryer, and the fries appeared to be homemade. One word of caution though: Frenchie's fresh salsa leans toward incendiary. If you don't think you can hack it, they will bring you a bottle of Pace.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Hey Y'all (just trying to set the mood),

Here is the link to a book review I just did for Story Circle Network. The book is by Jeannie Ralston, who was responsible for turning Blanco into the lavender capitol of Texas. What most people don't realize is that she was a successful writer in New York when she met her National Geographic photographer husband, and that he had to drag her kicking and screaming to Texas. The book should be available in stores by the end of this month. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


You may recall that when I wrote about what drew us to Wimberley in the first place, I once said that "it was easy to imagine that many of the hippies who sold jewelry and crafts down on The Drag in Austin during the 70's, were still alive and doing well in Wimberley." Well, I just found out that my good friend Cheryl was one of them! She and her husband Rick are both full-time artists, and if you have ever been to the Texas Renaissance Festival, you have probably shopped at their booth (the one with a big dragon that you walk through). Right now they are in the process of building their new house in Wimberley, doing most of the work themselves, gettin' by with a little help from their friends.