This being the launch of our third year of rolling down the road, weighing this life against “what was”, most days, “what was” wins. That also has a direct correlation to the frequency of my posts. Not in any way wanting to give the impression that this life is one big happy trek through the US, most days are spent just as before, taking care of whatever it is that needs to be addressed on our never ending list.
It has been unseasonably cold here in Washington, Texas. Having only 30 amp increases inconveniences and they have become the proverbial pebble in my shoe. Each 20 degree night is aggravatingly harder with which to deal. We have set up another heating system, one from a you-tube video. Primitive, but it does help.
Snarkyness has regularly slipped into my vocabulary, so much so that I have purchased a t-shirt that proclaims my ever increasing sentiments.
Our “it’s always something” is multiplying to the point of financial inconvenience and far above reasonable with each incident. The reprieve of exciting new adventures has slowed to a snail’s pace now that we are volunteering in one place and I am ready to pack up and move into the first thing I see without wheels. Some days this life grows gigantic razor sharp fangs and I can feel them fast approaching my behind. A sense of humor is mandatory for full-timing existence and often difficult to grasp.
Searching for a hole-in-the-wall diner led us to Filling Station Diner for breakfast. Flies greeted us at the door and stayed to join us for breakfast. Ignoring the lumpy seats we greeted the waitress with smiles and asked for coffee and a pot of hot water. My hot water pot came in the form of a large old plastic water glass, no coffee cup, no coffee for John. The young lady asked for our order, hubby said eggs over easy, pork chop medium and a biscuit. She repeated it back and then asked how he wanted his eggs, if he wanted toast or biscuit and if he wanted grits or potatoes. We smiled and John repeated his order again requesting coffee. When the coffee finally came, it stayed empty more than full. Our waitress came back asking if we needed anything, each time without bringing the pot! Food was just OK and prices were way high for what was served. Nothing here screamed “Y’all come back, ya hear?” Weeks later, we are still in search of a yummy local diner.
Fanthrop Inn was our exploration destination for today. The Inn is in Anderson TX, 17 miles away from Washington on the Brazos but still a part of Washington on the Brazos State Park. It is a relaxing drive through the fields of cattle country.
Downtown Anderson is one street long and familiar to John and I as we had both volunteered for a Woodlands Bike Club race in the area decades ago, me as corner marshal and John as a sweep car.
Anderson was once the fourth largest city in Texas with cotton and lumber being the draw. The court house stands mid road, streets running along each side for nearly a city block.
A few of the buildings are a century old with horse rein iron rings embedded into the cement walks out front. Only a few businesses remain, the Sunshine Seniors Center, a few Antique/Junque shops, a hardware store, the old hotel turned antique shop and unknown transitional businesses with newspaper covering up the windows.
The Inn is on a quiet dead end street at the other end of town. In its hay-day, the well-traveled La Bahia road abutted its frontal property.
The house was built in 1834 as part of a marriage condition set by Rachel, his prospective wife, to be completed before their marriage. It grew into an Inn when the couple were constantly having stage coaches stop to ask for shelter after the long jarring ride over the La Bahia road that fronted their home. It didn’t take long for Henry to realize that an Inn would bring in a nice profit.
Tom, the volunteer interpreter at the Inn, is a fascinating story teller who captures your attention with his Texas drawl and his ability to design each of his talks to interest both adults and children, availing a few hands-on tasks for the younger visitors.
As you step up to the breezeway, you disappear into the 1840’s and each area appears as if the patrons had momentarily stepped from the room. The house was built in dog-trot style as was popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries with the men’s card room, dining room and Henry and Rachel’s room on the first floor. Second floor contained the men’s multiple bed quarters, private rooms and private rooms for women with children.
Tom begins the tour with the Men’s Card Room. Poker playing cards are fanned out beside whiskey glasses and hunks of twisted tobacco lay out on table tops. Carpet bags propped haphazardly against walls waiting for their owners to trudge them up stairs for the night.
Henry and Rachel’s spacious bedroom is across the breezeway with Henry’s office attached to one end.
Upstairs is the men’s sleeping room with the capacity of sleeping a half dozen men. Often several slept together in one bed,
and down the hall, private rooms and women with children rooms.
Only the cistern occupied the back area as the kitchen had caught fire and had not been rebuilt.
Kitchens were built away from the house to keep heat out and those built with mud and timber chimneys often repeatedly burnt to the ground.
A long wide dining hall, the largest first floor room in the house, ran the length of the rooms above. Punkah fans attached to ropes were pulled by slaves to keep the flies off the food and cool the room. A huge pantry was at the back of the dining room.
The original corn crib, which Henry had used to make his fortune, still stands out back. Henry was a business man and originally made his money buying the extra corn from local farmers, storing it in his corn crib until winter and selling it back at a profit after they ran short.
Out front is the carriage house complete with a reproduction of a period stage coach. Pecan and Black Walnut trees shade the picnic tables just outside the carriage house.
Tom gives us a demonstration of the period whip used to move the team that pull the coach. He invites us into the carriage and calls out to his team, rocking the coach as if we are on the move.
Available on Saturdays and Sundays, the tour made our top 10 “best” list.
After our tour, we walked the town streets and stopped at a log house built by slaves of an Immigrant. The Steinhagen Log House, built before 1860 was hand-hewed by slaves from local timber. The stone, doors and window shutters were all hand-hewed by slaves, the log walls are un-spliced. It became a Texas Historic Landmark in 1965 but little else is known about its inhabitants or its history.
Back at LilyPad the cold has seeped inside causing us to pull out more blankets and readjust use of anything electrical. Our generator is getting a work-out due to the less than adequate 30 amp connection. We will never, ever again, stay in a place where our site does not have 50 amp.
As the sun goes down, we pass the corner diner, R Place, to check it out for a possible future hang-out. It is just outside the park gate and the owner is a friendly guy, our age bracket, offering beer, wine, ice cream, lunch and Prix Fixe dinners on the weekends. We are welcomed in, chat for two beers and a handful of self cracked pecans, joining in on the conversation about turning the back acreage, that abuts the park, into a motorhome park. As the night sneaks up and envelopes the setting sun, we head home, locking the gate and roping off Barrington’s entrance. Both of us prepare for another night down on the farm.