Saturday, March 27, 2010

A year already?

Dear KCVC friends,

Consider this your first installment in my new, and continuing, personalized just for you, Knox County travel, adventure and event guide. After all how sad will it be if the whole world discovers our wonderful real ranch country home before you do?

Whether you are interested in fabric, quilts, old fashioned nostalgia, great sales or just the punch and cake.... or even if you’re not into any of those, it is BIG news that one of our new businesses in the bustling metropolis of downtown Benjamin, population conservatively under 200, has its first anniversary next week!

Having a new business open in Benjamin was noteworthy, having it become a recognized stop for tour groups and individual travelers and adopted by our heritage tourism friends on the Real Ranch Country Travel Map, distributed by the Texas Historical Commission, Lubbock Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau is amazing!

The successful first year of Front Porch Quilts is a great stepping stone for all of Knox County as we build on our efforts to bring folks in to discover, and spend some time and money with us in our unique home place!

So, I'm passing along to all of you this invitation to join the ladies at Front Porch Quilts, in celebrating with cake and punch Saturday, April 3rd, any time between 10 am and 2 pm. If you've never been in the store, now’s a great time to see what all the tourists are so excited about! It’s easy to find, no GPS needed, just look for the old west store front on the South side of Hwy 82, east of the flashing light.

And, while you are in Benjamin, how many of you have never been to our wonderful museum, just across the road, had a fresh sandwich at BJ's (um the very best picnic fare anywhere!) or visited the unique and very successful Santa Fe on the Brazos where you can also see the work of our own Official State Photographer? Imagine, a day of tourism adventure right here in your own backyard! And just in case you use up that whole quarter tank of gas, 2 gas stations right here on the highway, so you can surely make it back home before sundown!

Now I don't want to overexcite you on your first foray around Knox County but if you're going North to get home any way, go ahead and make that 1 mile detour off Hwy 6 to see Truscott and the renovated, recreated, preserved, romantic heritage to be respectfully re-discovered there, view the old Bank and the Church turned Lodge, and if you still have a little adventurous spirit left in you follow the blacktop on out 5 or miles or so to the Truscott Brine Lake and see the salt, that's right I said salt, lake of Knox County. It's a naturally beautiful drive, with great improvements by the Corps of Engineers, that make it the ideal place to stretch your legs and picnic on that sandwich and cold drink from BJ's.

Going home by 82 East? Be sure to stop and see the National Historic and Natural Landmark, The Narrows and take in the fact that right here, where you live, are two phenomena. One is the fact that here is the continental divide of watersheds, one river sending water to the Mississippi and one to the Gulf of Mexico with just this narrow ledge of rough country between them, and two that every explorer, native culture and adventurer to the Southwest visited and noted this unique place, known for providing the best grass, the surest source of water, dependable hunting and winter shelter. Let your imagination soar, it’s better than any movie!

Alright, now that you are in the awe inspired frame of mind, take a southern turn on the FM Road to Rhineland and tour the Cathedral in the cotton field. The door is always open! And I'm personally putting up a $10 guarantee that you cannot visit and read the story of this place of worship hand built by German immigrant farmers and school boys persevering through World War, the Depression and the Dust Bowl, without a lump in your throat! I promise you'll leave with no excuses for not meeting your own goals! If you call ahead and get Dot Myers to come over and lead you through, it'll take a little longer, but you will experience one of the best stories in rural America.

Some of you will have to go South to get home and so will travel across Knox County's other National Historic Landmark the river bridge between Benjamin and Knox City. Stop and savor, it'll only take a minute. And you can tell your grandkids about it! This is one of only 3 known remaining bridges of this era and type in the United States. The one on Hwy 83 at Wellington, the only other still in use in Texas, is currently being torn down by TXDOT in the never ending development of 4 lane highways. This crossing of the Brazos has been featured in movies and books and is rumored to have been among the first places utilized for dancing to Bob Wills big band sound. That’s among the little known facts of Knox County, which you can learn by visiting the previously mentioned museum, much like the fact that Wills was, for a while, a Baptist preacher in Knox County, before rounding up the famous Playboys! Imagine! Oh and while your thinking about it, here's another fact, the bridge your standing on was the first one designed by an engineer of the Texas Highway Department, as it was called before becoming the mega giant agency Texas Department of Transportation.

If you are going home by a western trail, you surely already know that you are traveling everyday through true American history, the fabled real ranch country, made famous by dime novels, western movies and Remington paintings. About the only place left in the world where you can drive through miles and miles of God's scenery, Mama Cows, and native grass with only an occasional ranch entry, house off in the distance or occasional real working cowboy getting out of a pickup to interrupt the view. But, did you know you are living your life in the true setting made famous by the most widely read author in Europe, whose most famous work set a whole series of adventure novels, featuring an American Indian brave and his faithful sidekick the German adventurer turned cowboy, in the flats and breaks between present day Benjamin and Lubbock? This popular series also became the basis for the European version of early silent movies, then the first "talkies", western cowboy movies, and later a string of movies akin to our Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns and finally a spoof series much like Mel Brook's Blazing Saddles, even an opera based on the adventures of Ole Shatterhand? It's true read all about it on the internet! Just don't expect to read the books, unless you can read German, Dutch or French. They were never released in the US.

Well, I'm afraid that is all the adventure and shocking revelations about Knox County you can handle for one Saturday's tour time. But tune in next week and we'll talk about what you can see and do on a short day tour to Knox City, Munday, Goree or Vera this spring!

Meantime, don't forget the original message here, get on out of the house next Saturday and help celebrate the successful first year of Front Porch Quilts!

Until next time,

Your trusty tour guide,