Day 1 - Brenham, Texas

This wasn't a long trip, just a weekend jaunt down to the historic city of Brenham, Texas. Still, we thought that we'd share some of the highlights from our travels there.

Ant Street Inn - We spent the first day driving down to Brenhan, and found our B&B... a wonderful place called the Ant Street Inn. Swiss immigrant Josef Schmid began a mercantile business in Brenham in 1880. He was joined by his brothers Benjamin and Sigmund to form Schmid Bros in 1889, and in 1899-1900 they erected this building to house their business enterprises. Built in the Renaissance Revival style, it features multi-bay configurations on both floors and round-arched windows with hood moldings. Sold by Schmid Bros in 1934, it has remained a vital part of Brenham's business district, but is now a delightful fifteen-room bed and breakfast. We stayed in the Savannah room, and absolutely loved it. The room was spacious, the bed was comfortable, and the common areas where wine and snacks were served were the perfect accent to our stay.

Dinner at BT Longhorn Steakhouse - Just a short walk from the Ant Street Inn was the BT Longhorn Steakhouse, so we headed over there for dinner. It was built in 1886, and from what we saw is as popular with locals as it is with tourists - always a good sign. It has a great atmosphere, which includes a huge, antique bar. The menu includes Certified Black Angus choice steaks, which is what we had for our entrees. The food was delicious, and the prices were well within reason for such a great meal.

Day 2 - Round Top, Texas, and CCR

Breakfast at Ant Street Inn - Guests staying at the Ant Street Inn get to choose from a full breakfast menu from the restaurant that adjoins the B&B, The Brenham Grill. The decor of the place is fantastic, featuring a huge back-bar, and a chandalier in the room with a commanding presence. The menu offers anything that you might want, from omlets to eggs as you please. We both went for the "Country Morning Sampler," which consisted of two eggs cooked to order (scrambled for me, over easy for Tami), a choice of bacon or sausage, and a buttermilk pancake. There were a number of people there, some locals reading the newspaper, others that were staying at the Inn, and some that were just enjoying their meal... clearly this is a place with wonderful food.

Old Baylor Park - We didn't know it, but Baylor University has its roots in Independence, Texas, and you can visit the site. As the story goes, a Baptist church was established in September 1839 and shortly thereafter (in 1846) Baylor University was founded. During the first few years the school was coeducational but after 1851 the students were separated by gender. The four remaining columns in Old Baylor Park are from the female Department of the University. The Male Campus was located on Windmill Hill. The stream in between the two campuses was lightheartedly referred to as "The River Jordan" - since the females (at least in the minds of the boys) dwelled in "the promised land."

R Place - This building was once the H. A. Stolz Grocery, but is now a little restaurant and bar called "R Place". The smell of barbecue was as incredible outside as it was in the building as we parked and walked in. It's a wonderful place where you can get anything from a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream to an ice cold beer... or both! We were just passing through before entering Washington-On-The-Brazos, so we just paused long enought to have a delicious, icy cold beer there, but we saw a sign advertising dinner - Chicken Piccata with Capers, or a Sauteed chicken breast in a light lemon sauce, white wine and capers, both served with a Garden Salad, Bread and Brie, for $17.95... if ONLY we'd been there during dinnertime, we would have definitely taken them up on the advertised specials!

Washington-On-The-Brazos - Another stop for the trip was in Washington-On-The-Brazos, which is known as "the birthplace of Texas", a distinction it earned when on March 1, 1836 it became the meeting place of the Texas delegates who formally announced Texas' intention to separate from Mexico and who drafted the constitution of the new Republic of Texas, organizing an interim government to serve until an officially elected government could be put in place. The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site now covers 293 acres, and features three main attractions: Independence Hall, Barrington Living History Farm, and the Star of the Republic Museum. Plan on an hour or two here, because it's an interesting place to explore!

Lunch at Royer's Round Top Cafe - This wonderful hole-in-the-wall restaurant does come with house rules... (1) Please Play Nice! (2) When it is busy, which is often, please be ready to share a "community table"... lasting friendships are made! (3) We'll seat y'all as soon as your party is complete. (4) Please, no dancing on the tables... unless "Sweet Caroline" happens to come on! Seriously, the place is so popular that you're probably going to have to wait for a table, but it will be worth it. The entree prices can be a little on the high side ($42 for the Great Steak, down to $6 for a cheeseburger), so be prepared for an expensive meal, but the food (and the experience) is definitely worth it. You'll be talking about your meal at Royer's Round Top Cafe for years to come.

Round Top Antique Fair - We went to this antique show just down the road from Royer's Round Top Cafe, and had a wonderful time there... and in fact, spent more than an hour or two, and came home with several items. It was a great place to browse many different dealers' booths, and explore items that ranged from interesting junk to valuable antiques. This is a place that you can easily spend a few hours browsing through, and they have restroom facilities and a food concession to make sure that you have a comfortable time there.

An Evening with Cross Canadian Ragweed - The main reason for this trip was to go to the 2010 Washington County Fair, where the headlining band was our favorite artist - Cross Canadian Ragweed. This was a very special show, becuase not only was the venue an intimate pavillion where we could enjoy the show up-close and personal, but there were rumblings that the band was going to break up. Apparently the members - Cody Canada on lead guitar, Grady Cross on rythem guitar, Jeremy Plato on Bass, and Randy Ragsdale on drums - were going to call it quits. This was a wonderful show, and one that we will always remember. The band did a playlist that contained all our favorite songs from their albums.

Day 3 - College Station, Texas

Forbidden Gardens - On our way to College Station we went by Katy, Texas, where there is a place that is a little slice of China... The Forbidden Gardens. Forbidden Gardens was built in 1997 at the pleasure of Ira P. H. Poon, AKA "Mr. Poon," a Hong Kong real estate mogul who wanted people of Asian descent (including his teenage children) to know something of Asian culture. Mr. Poon lives in Seattle, but preferred constructing the sprawling exhibit somewhere outdoors, open year-round, on flat, cheap land, where there was a large Asian population. Houston, 25 miles east of Forbidden Gardens, has the third highest in the nation. The attraction, built for an estimated $20 million, covers 40 acres and 2,000 years of Chinese history. It is a curious, impressive, motionless place on the Texas flatlands, with its tranquil courtyard, shaded arcades, koi fish pond, the smell of incense in the thick air and the sounds of Chinese zither plucking from hidden speakers. Behind the courtyard are 40,000 square feet of tiny model palaces and people: scale models of the Forbidden City of Beijing, The Temple of Heaven, The Calming of the Heart Lodge, and the canal city of Suzhou. Off to the side is a big pit filled with thousands of little pink men, and behind it is a small hill. These are one-third scale reproductions of Emperor Qin's terra-cotta army - all 6,000 of them - and his tomb, Mount Li. Qin Shihauangdi, for those of us less well-versed in Chinese history than Mr. Poon, was the first emperor of China. Those terra-cotta warriors were buried with him over 2,000 years ago and unearthed near Xi'an in 1974.

Vineyard Court Designer Suites Hotel - For our stay in College Station, we booked a room at the Vineyard Court Designer Suites Hotel, which sounds like a nice place, but turned out to be even NICER than it sounds. We loved our stay there! A lot of suite-hotels have a room that includes a small couch, and that's the suite part. Vineyard Court has a separate living room, with a living room and a full kitchenette. It was comfortable, roomy, and had a feeling of "home." The courtyard (hence the name "Vineyard Court") was beautifully landscaped and included a pool for the guests to relax in. We attended their evening Wine Tasting & hors d'oeuvres, which were delicious. This place made us feel very special!

The Dixie Chicken - Back when we were in college at Texas A&M, the favorite student hang-out of the day was a bar at NorthGate called the "Dixie Chicken." Back in those days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the drinking age was 18 (it was a more civilized time). Today you can only sign up for the draft, to serve (and possibly die for) your country, and buy tobacco products (known carcinogens) but Lord help us if you were able to go sit and have a relaxing beer at the end of the day with your friends. But I digress. We spent many a wonderful evening with friends - and each other - here at the Chicken, and so it was a treat to come back again. Very little had changed.

Knocking Around College Station - Being two old Ags, we spent the day visiting our old haunts. A few of the photos that we took are below, and just to present them left to right...

  1. This is the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross in front of A&M's Academic Building, "Sully," who was a "Soldier, Statesman, Knightly Gentleman," and where Silver Taps at A&M is conducted.
  2. Zachary Engineering Building is where I spent a good bit of my college career, and it was a rush of nostalgia to walk through its halls.
  3. Beside the Dixie Chicken is an alley, and as legend has it, every morning the bar would throw the bottle caps from the previous night out there. It was famous back when we were in school there, but on this trip we saw that the city had embraced it, and even erected an archway into "Bottle Cap Alley."
  4. Inside the Chicken, there is a cage built into a wall where rattlesnakes are kept. When the county sheriff gets a call that one is on a citizen's property, instead of killing it, he captures it and brings it to the Chicken where it will have a life of leisure and abundance... but it still creeps me out to see them.
  5. And finally, this was our apartment when we were in college - #7H, the one on the top. We had to go by and take a look at it, and although we didn't get a peek inside, it looked very much like it did years ago when it was our home.

Having spent as much time as we could in College Station, we finally had to head the car northward on Highway 6 and make our way back home. It was a fun weekend getaway, and one that we'll have to repeat one of these days!

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