NOTE: I HAD SEVERAL ISSUES WITH THE FORT SAM HOUSTON SIDE OF THE RECREATION AREA. FIRST I TOOK A PROPANE BOTTLE TO THE STORE TO BE FILLED. YOU HAVE TO DROP IT OFF AND PICK IT UP WHEN THEY CALL. WHEN I RETURNED TO PICK UP MY BOTTLE THE CHARGE WAS ONLY FOR 3 GALLONS WHICH THEY SAID WAS ALL IT WOULD TAKE. WHEN I PICKED UP THE BOTTLE I COULD IMMEDIATELY TELL THE BOTTLE WAS ONLY ABOUT HALF FULL. I WENT BACK IN TO TALK TO THE LAD WHO FILLED IT AND HE SAID IT WOULDN'T TAKE ANY MORE GAS. I ASKED IF HE USED THE PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE SCREW TO ALLOW THE OXYGEN AND EMPTY SPACE TO BLEED OFF......HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT. ADDITIONALLY, WE DID HAVE TO FILTER THE CANYON LAKE RECREATION AREA WATER SUPPLY DUE TO A SILTY APPEARANCE NO MATTER HOW LONG YOU RAN IT. WHEN WE REPORTED THIS TO THE OFFICE THEY KNEW ABOUT IT, STATING THAT IT HAPPENS SOMETIMES.......HMMM.
Joint Base San Antonio Canyon Lake Recreation Area @ Canyon LakeTexas Hill Country is prime real estate, but can be equally pricey as well. This was our next area of interest. Rolling hills, canyons, lakes, rivers, and recreation. This area is located in the South Central part of the state just west and southwest of Austin, including such towns as New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, and Boerne to name a few. Also located only about 10-30 miles north of San Antonio you are always within easy range of whatever services, VA hospitals, and culture you desire. There is also a VA Hospital in Kerrville, no more than 100 miles from Austin. Our search included 12 communities.
Our first couple of days we explored the New Braunfels, Gruene, Boerne, Canyon City areas. It was quite the culture/economic shock as the average building lot was $50K and the average price per acre in the county was $36K when you bought at least 70 acres! In fact the closer you got to Canyon Lake 5 acres was priced at around $255K. We moved on, QUICKLY. On a side note, the villages of Gruene and Wimberley are beautiful little picturesque German style settings with a myriad of shops, stores, and restaurants.
Perhaps part of this blog chapter should have been titled "BBQ Along the Way". There is no such thing as too much BBQ in Texas especially when you are on the road doing research. One of the days exploring the area near Johnson City, Marble Falls, and Llano we stopped in for BBQ at one of the finest places I have ever dined, Coopers Old Time Pit BBQ in Llano, TX. They are a 4 star (out of 5) rated eatery.
https://www.coopersbbq.com/ The staff is prompt and friendly ensuring you know all the sides and desserts that come with the meal.
This is the 'serving pit'. There are 6 other cooking pits located just to the side of this one.
One day we stopped for lunch in Driftwood at the famous Salt Lick BBQ. They are rated 3 out of 5 stars, rightly so. We waited in the pager line for only about 15 minutes before we were seated in one of the many dining areas. This is a BYOB area so a stop in the bar area for a Shiner Bock is a must. That's the good news. Barb and both found the food to be 'just OK'.......brisket, ribs, and sausage were on our plates with sides of coleslaw, beans, and terrible potato salad. This was also accompanied by a mini loaf of bread and a plate of pickles and onions. When we got the bill our one and only visit was complete. We were charged $5 for two ice teas and the bread, pickles, and onions were not free! The menu did say on request. Total for lunch.......$37.61 One day we also ate at Bill Miller's BBQ in Bulverde, TX. Another pass. One day we ate at Buzzee's in Kerrville. This place is rated 4 out of 5 stars, but I'm not on that train. Good brisket, but that's all. Texas is world renown for outstanding BBQ and has some of the very best. We discovered hidden gems at Coopers in Llano and San Marcos BBQ in San Marcos this trip. They had the best brisket I have ever eaten. WARNING......Lockhart, TX looms in the not too distant future. Been there, done that.......but I'm gonna DO IT AGAIN!
On the days we explored the Fredericksburg area we also stopped in to see the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park and also Luckenbach, TX. Centerpiece of several country songs this SMALL town has a population of 3. But, the entire town is one big party area, several stages, restrooms, parking and dry camping areas, several large fire pits and 'pickers circles', and of course many food and beverage vendors. When I asked about coming festivals I was simply informed that there is music every night of the week and a show each and every weekend. Many of these are big recording artists. It has to be seen to be believed. http://www.luckenbachtexas.com/
Luckenbach, TX store
Luckenbach, TX Main Stage Area
LBJ's Ranch: The Texas White House
Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch Nat'l Park Drive
One day we took a trip up to Canyon Ranches NW of Austin to check out some 9 acre parcels that include power and a 'Barndominium' installed at your choice of locations. Price: $124K http://ranchesatcanyoncreek.com/sale/index.html Restrictions here are minimal, and even so the building solves that problem. Wells would be 400-700 feet deep, costing an average of $12,000 to install. Septic runs around $9,000. We're probably not buying this trip, but just testing the market.
Our findings for 5 acres of land (without utilities) average:
(Taxes are per $100K)
Blanco Area: $78.9K Taxes: $1170
Johnson City/Llano Area: $75.1K Taxes: $990
Fredericksburg, Luckenbach Area: $143.5K Taxes: $1160
Marble Falls/Dripping Springs: $132.9K Taxes: $1400
Kerrville: $191K Taxes: $1330
Bandera: $109.9K Taxes: $1170
Leakey: $109K Taxes: $1390
Bertram: $124K Taxes: $1390
Meals prepared in camp included Gator Cakes, Shrimp w/Tasso Gravy over Cornbread, German Crockpot Rabbit, Hawkeye Stuffed Quail, and Chorizo Quesadillas to name just a few.
Smoked Brisket Stuffed Baked Tater with Sour Cream and Chives
I also wanted to include a picture and recipe for a casserole I had experimented with last year while in Salado with our friends, yet they wanted again. There are several recipes online for Reuben Casserole, but I highly recommend this one. It is quite simple to prepare. I used deli sliced Pastrami rather than lunchmeat. If you like a good Reuben Sandwich, this casserole is it; quite tasty. http://12tomatoes.com/reuben-casserole/
Our trip wound up with another 10 day stop at the Fam Camp at Canyon Lake prior to our departure from the Hill Country. The Air Force side was much nicer with campsites tucked away in cedars, clean water, and quiet. Can't beat those reasonable prices, in fact this side was cheaper, only $180 for 10 days. In all we spent 4 weeks in the Hill Country researching real estate values and property tax issues. Restriction covenants really cramp our style, but it was an educational experience to say the least. We do have one more area to look at, but.....the Hill Country has our hearts. Whether our wallet can support it remains to be seen. Average diesel prices for this month ranged $2.35-$2.43.
"Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do"
WiFi courtesy of Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife