WATTERSON RANCH RIDE TEXAS
Trailrider Magazine Article for (Nov/Dec 03)
Leaving a soggy campsite in northern Texas, cold and damp, we soon found a spot of sun in the sky and just knew that our luck had changed for at least a while. Our dampened spirits picked up with each mile. Taking some back roads we ended up on 45 south, then found our way to Bastrop, east of Austin on state rt 71. I can say this, that if you travel for any length of time on one trip, you have to be flexible. It seems as tho we get to see more of the USA by back road than most folks. Personally I prefer the back roads, you get a feel for the folks who live along the way..I tell Kathy I like to see the wash hanging out.. Not many do that any more, not in the north that is.. More so in the southern parts of the country. With all that free heat and fresh air, why not.. I remember one time we had stopped in Panrump Nev. at a little horse motel type of place. The folks there had a washer for the traveler who needed to catch up on the laundry. It sat out back on a wooden pallet, just cold water and a clothes line. When in Rome etc. We did a load and hung them up, by the time the second load was done the first load was dry. Now I am talking Nev, for those who have never traveled that way. Death Valley is a neighbor out there. It is warm and windy. Greatest clothes dryer in the world...
Well anyway, the road to Bastrop sure gave us a good feeling, warm and easy looken..
Once we found our way to the general area of the Watterson Ranch, a cell phone call put us in touch with Trina Miller who directed us to a huge open camp site. With atmosphere to spare, what a great place to camp. At the end of a small ranch road, near some pens for the horses and all to our selves.. We loved it. Once we got settled in and had some time to talk to Trina, we found out the story on the Watterson Ranch..
A working ranch that is allowing folks to stop and camp and ride some cattle country.. Because of the fact that it is a working ranch with cattle spread around, Trina likes to guide folks. She says she can keep you in the saddle just as long as you want. With plans to ride the next day, Trina left us to get settled in, and much later, after a truck tour, as the sun set, the cool air came in and we built a nice fire, sat out side and listened to the coyotes around us singing, while our dogs sat in our laps, wondering what all this strange noise was. My little Jack Russell laid there and once in a while felt he had to answer the call of the wild, his little woof, woof, was hardly heard...I had not felt that relaxed in quite a while. Kathy was still getting healed up from her fall, not ready to ride yet, but better... It would be almost a month later before she gets back up..
My first view of the ranch was believe it or not, was from the back end of a pickup. Along with a couple other ladies, Trina's mom for one.. Trina and a group on horse back, along with two pickups, had came by our site, a little later in the afternoon of the first day, and with a invite to saddle up or hop in, I took the hop in and got a pickup view of part of the ranch..( Kathy was not up to a ride in the back of a pickup or even a ride) So off we went.. Like a bunch of kids on summer vacation from school.. I never did quite figure out just what we were doing but I know the other truck we were following was lost...If that was not the case the driver sure did enjoying driving by the same spot a lot.. Once he got lined out we ended up at Trina's house. Next to the main ranch house. I met a cowboy who was going to give, all interested parties, a lesson on putting range cattle into the pasture holding pens.. Once we got under way to the cowpens it got more interesting.. Seems to me, if my memory is right, this was a group that had came out to the ranch for this demonstration, and while they were waiting for everyone to get to the school room area, the few on horseback and the rest in trucks took the 25 cent tour..Which was what I got into.. later at the pens it all turned out just fine, they got the cattle in the pens and then the cattle left, sort of OK fellows we did what you ask, now we are leaving.."and a good time was had by all".. I got the idea that the cattle did not really go along with the program and the catchers were not that experienced.. But we did learn a trick or two about one man putting a few cows in the pen..After the cattle left, the party sort of broke up and I caught a ride back to camp, and a very cozy fire lite evening..
The next day, Trina showed up on horse back, and her and I started off to check out the trails she would be showing folks who stopped by for a ride. We really saw some great scenic area's. Beautiful streams and quiet spots, way out from now where. We went by a spot that she and her daughter always stop for lunch, There was a huge rock near by that looked like, and was called "Hamburger Rock." her daughters favorite spot.. The darn thing looked just like a hamburger, bun and all, but as big as a pickup.. More miles and more relaxing places, saw a few hamburgers on the hoof and learned some history of the area..
The family ranch is located in the community of Watterson Texas. settled by Trina's husbands grandparents. For a more complete history lesson look at www.wattersonranch.com then click on the history. Very interesting. Sure gives a family something to be proud of when a ranch has been in the family that long.. Lots of photos to.. Nothing like getting a history lesson on horse back about the area you are seeing..
Returning to camp, Trina suggested a ride the next day, not a problem for me. Later that evening a truck came bouncing into camp, driven by Mariann Jones from Paint the Winds Acres in Rosankyk Texas. She had driven all that way just to bring us a supper. Here she is with this large dish, warm and ready to eat. Texas size for sure. Bless her heart. What great folks. Not to be out done, the next morning Trina shows up with breakfast..more Texas sized helpings, Trina explained that she may have to beg off on a ride that morning as she was expecting to be very busy with some arrangements for a up and coming ride.. As it ended up we did not get to ride but was asked to stay around a few more days to get in on "the Davy Crockett ride to the Alamo" which the ranch was hosting.. We were ask if we minded moving our rig to a camp site by the cattle pens.. Get us closer to the trail head for the big ride. That night a large cookout was planned, right at our site. What a gathering, Mike and RoseMarie Apel from Rock'n Horse, Paul and Rita Andrews and family from Horsefly Farms, Mariann Jones, ( she brought desserts from heaven ), Patti Hickman from Hickman Ranch and Sheri and Hailey Wise from out Smithville way.. Along with the Wattersons, Scott and Trina, and Callie Miller, Trinas mom, Linda Towery, and a aunt and uncle from Granger Texas, William and Beverly Tonn. I am sure I missed someone in that list, and I am sorry..Who can remember all the folks one meets at a cookout... Plus all that great food.. Slept like a bear that night we did..
The next day, folks started showing up with their rigs. Folks from all over Texas who wanted to get in on this ride. A little back ground. This ride was called the Davy Crockett Trail Ride for Down Syndrome. It was to commemorate Crocketts historic ride. It started in Lawrenceburg Tenn. on Nov 1st 03. Its goal was the have a charity ride in each county from Lawrenceburg to the Alamo. Covered four states and 31 counties. (www.davycrockettcharitytrailride.org) Song writer and storyteller Phil Thomas was the key man and we sure enjoyed our time spent with him. A good number of riders from all over the state showed up at the Watterson Ranch to join in. One of the riders whom I met, and will not forget was Oscar Javier Chaparro, and fine gentleman and a concert violinist. When I ask him what he worked at, he said he played violin. Now to me that meant fiddle, and then the more we talked the more I learned. A man who has played the big houses, the Met, and Carnegie Hall in NYC. studied in Europe and made his violin his life. He has just recently made San Antonia area his home... Lead violinist at Bryn -College station.. and so much more. If you enjoy violin, pick up one of his many CD's..
With all the action at the Wattersons winding down, Kathy and I started planning our next stop. We had planned to visit Bandera Texas again, and a ride the hill country. Had a invite from Esther Benedict who's sculptures are know the nation wide, to stop by and she would try within her busy time frame to get a ride in with us.. http://www.estherbenedict.com/ a must see website for any horseman who enjoys art.. As I said, we had planned, but things do not always work out and we had to postpone a visit with Ester. Well Texas is a big spot so we simply found another place to visit.. We will save that for next time.
So until then, I would like to thank all the folks who made our Watterson Ranch Ride a great time, special thanks to Trina who was the perfect host.
Lets keep our cinches tight, carry and good camera, and remember the gift of a TrailRider subscription for those special friends. Tune in the "Horseman Radio Weekly" for some great listening, and starting with this issue I finally have the extra photos of this part of our trip on our web site. www.garthandkathy.com... I think you will enjoy them all, about a dozen. check the photo gallery... Thanks.
Garth Rumsmoke the Coast to Coast Rambler