It’s our annual travel issue and H Texas is hitting the road, air, water, rail and saddle to enjoy a few of America’s best destinations. Why hassle with passports, endless flights and the long lines at customs, when the Land of the Free has it all from beautiful, spacious skies, to amber waves of grain, to purple mountain majesties? Come with us as we explore Arizona, California, Wisconsin, Missouri, Colorado and our own beloved Texas!
A Needle in a Haystack:
story and photos by Rick McMillen
“Dad, would you like to take Mom on a romantic weekend and write a travel story?” asked the publisher of this great magazine, who also happens to be my daughter.
“Absolutely! Where are we going?”
Yep, that was the beginning of this fantastic adventure where the ole cliché clearly applies: Blink and you’ll miss it!
Where are we going? I must admit I was anxious—San Francisco, New York, Vegas? Does the budget cover the Caribbean? Where are we heading?
“Dad, the town is called Granbury.” “Grandberry,” I exclaimed! That sounds like a southern sweet herbal rum drink, right? “No, Dad, Granbury. There is no “d” and it’s not a berry; it’s south of the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Here are your tickets. Have a great time!” I rarely question assignments, however, I must admit, this one seemed like a stretch. So, time to Google and get ready!
To begin, realize the great state of Texas has a population of 25 million; Granbury’s population—8,000. Texas is huge at 261,000 square miles; Granbury is just 224 square miles. Truly, a needle in a haystack.
But what’s surprising is this sleepy, tiny, quaint retreat, featuring a one block town square is filled with more historical significance and charm than one can imagine and has so many bed and breakfast inns and folks that are so accommodating, you’ll be calling them Aunt Bee and Barney your entire stay.
Admittedly, at first, I felt like we were transported into the Twilight Zone; recall those frequent and constant recurring circumstances where the same people always appear and reappear? Well, that’s Granbury. The town folks and proprietors all love this town so much that their free and professional time is totally submerged in this town’s heart, history and culture. You will find the owner of Pomegranate B&B selling popcorn at the local theater while the director of the multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Granbury Opera House, which originally opened in 1890, is selling tickets at the same theatre for the current production of Fiddler on the Roof. He also performs in many of the plays.
Lake Granbury, created by damming the Brazos in 1969, is encompassed by 103 miles of shoreline dissecting the picturesque village which is a constant visual beckoning you to it’s shores. So, as we arrived midday on a Thursday at the bed and breakfast, Inn on Lake Granbury, we were escorted to spacious accommodations extraordinarily well appointed in every detail imaginable.
These folks made a serious investment when developing this slice of paradise. The architecture and overall feel is one of small town charm, however, the wooden floors, tiled walls and endless original paintings along with opulent baths with steam showers and oversized jet infused tubs felt like the Waldorf in NYC. And, please, let me not forget the homemade breads, stuffed French toast and fresh fruit with an abundance of flowers endlessly awakens your senses. Plus, I was openly welcomed into the kitchen by the owners, Jim and Kathy, along with their “ma” who was frequently providing me with added delicacies to consume.
Soon, we were off to a VIP wine tasting event, launching the town’s most popular annual event, The Granbury Wine Walk. I must add that I am also editor and chef of a food magazine, Chile Pepper, so I know a thing or two about fine wine and food. Upon arriving at this festive occasion, hosted on a private and opulent estate on Lake Granbury, we were welcomed by an endless variety of fine wines and culinary delights. All the offerings were skillfully created and served by nameless local chefs who could easily command a fine dinning location in Manhattan! My fave? Easy—the roasted pork belly confit with cole slaw. Mind you, this was just the beginning!
The following two days were spent wandering about the heart of the town which is a one-full block square surrounding the historical and iconic courthouse. Local historians claim it holds more Texas tales than all the longhorns on the open ranges of West Texas! A memorable Saturday evening was spent enjoying a walking tour of the square choreographed by a local who could easily pass as a history professor at any Texas college, entertaining us with the past lore ranging from the evening romps of Jessie James throughout the bars and brothels, the hotel that became a refuge for John Wilkes Booth including the hiding location of the weapon that shot Lincoln, to tracing the spirits of many past cowboys whose last days were spent on the same streets we were walking. By the way, the guide instructed us to download an app so we could monitor the spirits at the locations where their demise ultimately occurred.
This great romantic venture was so fine that my wife and I are already planning our return. That’s a promise. Our goal: to stay at each of the numerous bed and breakfasts that we visited. Each is unique in their fashion, décor and ambiance and each boasts the finest breakfast foods launching your memorable day in this quiet, hidden slice of Texas paradise.
However, a sad note to the end of this story. Within days following our visit, a massive EF-4 tornado packing winds of nearly 200 miles per hour dropped from the skies killing six and causing catastrophic damage to areas right outside of Granbury. But you can’t keep good Texans down. Despite the tragedy, Granbury is fully functional and all tourism activities continue.
Our hearts and prayers go to all the fine folks of Granbury (www.granbury.org)! God bless you all and we’ll see y’all soon!
Have an adventure in gateway, COLORADO
by Matthew Abernathy
With fly fishing, horseback riding, mountain rappelling, hiking, biking and more, this Colorado resort is the perfect outdoorsman’s vacation.
Surrounded by the beautiful red rock of the Colorado Palisade, sits a haven for travelers seeking history and adventure. Gateway Canyons, developed by John Hendricks, founder and chairman of the board for the Discovery Channel and Discover Communications, is located in Unaweep Canyon. Unaweep Canyon, a Native American term for “canyon with two mouths,” is said to be the only canyon in the world that is drained by two creeks; East Creek and West Creek. The uniqueness is that the two creeks drain off in opposite directions. The area has special recognition in Colorado geology due to the ancient rivers eroding the rock away and exposing millions of years of geological record. With much of the area still untouched by human development, visitors are transported back to a by-gone era of pioneers, gold miners and cattle rustlers. But within the compound of Gateway Canyons,
the resort is anything but primitive.
There are many options for lodging at Gateway Canyons to accommodate a wide range of travelers. The Kiva Lodge, which is built around the pool and clubhouse courtyard has accommodations ranging from 485 square feet to the signature rooms that are 600 square feet, including lower level rooms with a private, outdoor patio, in-ground hot tub and fire pit as well as all of the amenities guests should expect in this high-end resort.
The Kayenta Lodge is built around the beautiful courtyard of the resort. These rooms offer the same amenities as the Kiva Lodge with an additional living area in each room that includes a sleeper sofa.
The newly completed Casitas offer a ‘home away from home’ with over 2,000 square feet of lodging in each of the Hacienda Casitas including an array of special features such as two living rooms with fireside sitting areas, work desks, dining room table, wet bars, a mini fridge and multiple bathrooms. The Stargazer Casitas offer one bedroom accommodations that include two levels with an upstairs den and gazing deck to view the beautiful Colorado sky and surrounding landscape. The casitas come with private decks, fire pits and some units also include an outdoor spa. With vaulted open beam ceilings and large, oversized windows you will be able to maximize your view of the Palisade.
Now, let the adventures begin! There are several opportunities to ‘discover’ the surrounding areas and tour the facilities. From fly fishing, rafting and kayaking adventures on the Dolores River, to horseback riding through the Unaweep Canyon or repelling from the Palisade, to the numerous hiking, climbing, mountain biking and ATV trails that encompass the resort, there is something new to do every day of your vacation.
On our own adventure to Gateway Canyons, my wife and I were able to view the entire Western Colorado area via a mountain top ATV tour. A very knowledgeable and skillful guide was kind enough to take the time to educate us on all of the geological treasures that were right before our eyes and filled us in on the uranium mining that took place here sometime ago that supplied the majority of the metal for the Manhattan Project. By far, the most intriguing option for the ‘adventurous at heart’ is to view the area via a helicopter tour. This chopper experience allowed us to witness millions of years of geological transformations of the surrounding area! The latest addition to an already overwhelming array of adventures is the Pro Baja Truck Experience that allows guest to try their hand at off-road excursions throughout the canyon on tracks designed to thrill off-road enthusiasts.
If it is curiosity or discovery that drives your inner explorer, then Gateway Canyons has something for you, as well. There is nothing ordinary at all about a Discovery Retreat at Gateway Canyons. Whether you have a passion for the cosmos, dinosaurs, the American West or, even food and wine, there is a Discovery Retreat for you. Come learn and experience these treasures from experts; these people have dedicated their lives to their fields and are willing to share and teach those of us that have a shared passion about these various curiosities. Discovery Retreats gathers these experts to unravel the mysteries that intrigue us through hands-on experiences and workshops.
The all-new Curiosity Adventures, taps into your curious side and offers a series of hands-on workshops and presentations. One can retrace the steps of the pioneers, prospectors and all of the colorful characters who created Gateway’s history. They also offer an experience with an astronomer that will help you navigate through the Colorado night sky and all that it has to explore. My favorite exploration came from the walk through of the Gateway Colorado Auto Museum. The museum houses the privately owned collection of John Hendricks featuring more than 60 spectacular automobiles spanning every era of the industry. The automobiles, models and surrounding displays offer a rare glimpse into the beauty and history of the business. The museum also houses a one-of-a-kind 1954 Oldsmobile F-88, which was a real treat for the car enthusiast in me, for sure.
After spending an entire day engaging in awesome adventures and new experiences, my wife and I knew we had to try the Spa at Gateway Canyons. The Spa offers several variations of massages, body treatments, facials, manicures and pedicures. They were also able to accommodate a couples’ massage that allowed us to share the experience together.
Relaxed and rejuvenated from our massage, it was time to go and try one of three dining experiences offered at the resort. For dinner, we chose the Entrada Restaurant. This restaurant is named after the entrada sandstone formation that you find throughout the region. The restaurant offers an intimate indoor, or outdoor dining experience that was very memorable not only because of the ambience, but also because of the excellent food we were served. From baked Colorado striped bass, to roasted Colorado lamb rack, or even the steamed Lobster Tail, we could find no entrée throughout our stay that we would not recommend to our readers. The Entrada is a must for a dining experience you will remember for quite some time.
The resort also has two other dining experiences to choose from. The Paradox Grille specializes in casual Colorado cuisine, while the Kiva Café is a welcoming place to host your next corporate party, family get-together, or any other special event with seating for up to 60 people.
Whether it’s a family vacation, a destination wedding or a corporate retreat, consider Gateway Canyons. The resort has the venues, staff and opportunities to make this a once-in-a-lifetime getaway!
For your next adventure, wedding or corporate getaway, call…
Gateway Canyons Resort
43200 Hwy 141
Gateway, CO 81522
Want to read more, check out H Texas Magazine Summer 2013 Issue!