Many men fall victim to their own memory when it comes to anniversaries. Fortunately, my anniversary falls in the same ten-day period as Valentine’s Day and my wife’s birthday. While making this easy to remember, it does have its issues, but nothing I can’t handle.
On our wedding day, we drove to Smithville Texas, the site of the movie “Hope Floats” featuring Sandra Bullock (yes, it is a chick-flick, but it is a good one) and stayed at a bed and breakfast called The Katy House. Now, for those who read this blog (yes, I am talking to you) you may remember that Michelle and I love to tour small towns off the beaten path. Well, Smithville—with a whopping population of 3,900—certainly qualifies as small and it does sit just off of state highway 71, which is a beaten path.
This town has a quaint old style main street with buildings built around the turn of the century (not the recent one, mind you) and a train depot (which is not really a functioning depot anymore, but it serves as the chamber of commerce and a railway museum). Most of the buildings that are occupied house antique stores or craft boutiques, while many sit empty. The other streets are filled with old houses dating back to the late 1800’s when this town was built by the MKT railroad. The Katy House is one such home.
Built in 1909, it was originally named the Chancellor Residence after its first occupant. Many others have lived in it since, but it is now a very comfortable B&B run by Sallie and Bruce Blalock. They made our wedding night stay quite pleasant, setting us up with a bottle of bubbly and getting us reservations at the town’s pre-eminent restaurant, The Back Door Café (make the trip if for no other reason than to eat here, it is that good). Because the stay was so memorable, we come back every year to celebrate our anniversary with them.
This year, we also visited Round Top, an even smaller hamlet even farther off the beaten path. It boasts a population on its city sign of 77. Yes, that is two sevens. Seventy-seven. That is all. Now, while we were there, we ran into more than 77 people. It seems this town has a draw many weekends of the year, not the least of which is the thrice-annual antiques festival. This weekend was not that event, but rather a re-enactment of life in the 1800s. People dressed in period specific clothes sat around some restored or replicated homes from the period.
There are also a few art galleries in the town featuring many different kinds of art forms. It makes one wonder how they can stay open with such an esoteric activity, but they seem to do fine. The highlight of the visit, however, was lunch at Royers café. This small, colorful dining establishment was once featured on CBS Sunday morning and offers several dishes for any palate. It also has a wide variety of pies—my kryptonite. The food was good, subtle but flavorful. I recommend the creamed corn. The cherry pie was great, not so sweet as to make you cringe, but not too tart either.
Now, as this year’s anniversary trip winds down, we know that we will be back again next year, and looking forward to visiting our friends and seeing more of small-town Texas.