We’d known about it since last October: That October 23, 2016, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top, Texas, would be celebrating its 150 anniversary. We’d decided we would go, and I’d had it marked on my calendar since early spring: October 22, 23, and 24. My cousin JP who lives in Capitan, New Mexico, had said he wanted to go with us. I tried to make reservations for the three of us at the Gate House of the Round Top Inn, which is where we stayed last time, and because reasons, but only Sunday night was available. I called around and was able to get us reservations for both nights at The WellSpring Retreat, which is located just north of town.
My cousin JP drove over Friday the 21st and spent the night at my mom’s. Bright and early Saturday morning, I put the drinks and snacks in the back seat floorboard, put my luggage in the trunk, loaded up the fat(cat)boy and off we went. I got the fat(cat)boy installed in his room with a view at the Pet Hotel, and was headed for the Whataburger on south Quaker within 10 minutes to get a large Coke. As I waited my turn at the drive up window of the Whataburger, I noted with some interest that there were four (4!) US Air Force captains, two men and two women, breakfasting inside. Seeing zoomies of any stripe in uniform is extremely rare hereabouts since they closed our USAF base some years ago, but four captains?!
Once I got my large Coke, I made my way over to the gas station in the Walmart parking lot (which is just past the Whataburger) and filled up my gas tank. Then it was onto the loop and over to mom’s. I pulled into the driveway of mom’s house — it was only about 7:40 a.m. — and sat there a minute, fully expecting the garage door to come open. When it didn’t, I opened it with my key, squeezed between my mom’s Mazda and my cousin’s humongous pickup (his trailer hitch cleared the garage door by a scant 4 inches!), walked inside and found them sitting in the den. Neither of them had heard the garage door go up! (Then again, both of them wear hearing aids, and I was early . . . ) We loaded up, took my mom’s special shortcut to Highway 84 and were on our way to Post before 8 o’clock.
When we go to Pearland, Texas, where many of my mothers people live, we take Highway 84 to Sweetwater, Interstate 20 to Abilene, Highway 36 to Brenham, and Highway 290, etc. The last time we had gone to Round Top, we were coming from the other direction, up from Pearland. The week before, I had gotten on Google Maps and plotted our course so that we could take the same route we always take when we go to Pearland, until just past Cameron, where we could pick up Highway 77 south to Giddings, and get on Highway 290 east going toward Brenham. From 290, we could pick up state road 237 south and go straight into Round Top. Even though it was out of our way to take 237, there being a Round Top Road, I chose 237 as the satellite view showed it had a center stripe, meaning two lanes, and Round Top Road did not. While I was on Google Maps, I got the street view of the place where we were supposed to turn off to The Wellspring Retreat, and found the appropriate landmarks so I would know where to turn.
The weather was gorgeous, mostly sunny with temperature in the 80’s F (26+ C) there was very little traffic and very minimal road construction. We made good time. We made one stop for gas in Comanche. I almost overshot the turnoff onto 237, but we made it. Google maps calculates the distance as 443 miles, and says it should take about 7 hours. It was about 4:20 p.m. when we got to the turnoff, just past the city limits sign.
I had known what mom was going to say, the minute I saw the street view of the turnoff (at left). You turn onto a dirt road that goes around an antique shop, past the school and off into the boonies. Sure enough, the minute I turned around the antique shop, mom said “Are you sure we’re going the right way?” It is a little confusing because from that direction you approach The Wellspring Retreat from behind, where the parking is, and the route to the main house is not clearly marked, but we parked, did a little exploring and soon found we were in the right place.
As disappointed as we were that we could not stay in the Gate House of the Round Top Inn because family history reasons, we were anything but disappointed with the Wellspring Retreat. It is a charming place in a gorgeous setting. We were supposed to meet up at Royers of Round Top at 6:30 p.m. for supper, but after we checked in and got our luggage up to our rooms, we found a row of lovely rocking chairs on the spacious front porch of the main house, where we had plenty of time to kick back in a rocking chair, take it easy and enjoy the view (below).
My cousin EJ and her husband B were supposed to stay at the Wellspring also, but they were coming up from Pearland. We saw her red SUV coming in from the other direction and mom whipped out her cell phone and called her and our hostess “talked them in.”
I remembered seeing Royers when we were in Round Top before, and I had looked it up on Google Maps so I knew exactly how to get there. (No place in Round Top is more than a couple of minutes away from any other place in Round Top!)You can see Beetil parked at the far left and EJ & B’s red SUV parked to the left of the pickup. The man in the black hat is my cousin JP. My mom is digging in her purse for her camera. The obligatory picture of my mom in front of the place in question (here with my cousin JP) follows:
This being Texas, the Royers’ menu is categorized into “Some stuff that grazes” (dishes containing beef or lamb), “Some stuff that oinks and chirps” (pork, chicken and quail), “Some stuff that swims” (Gulf red snapper, shrimp and salmon), and “Some stuff in a bowl” (pasta dishes). Royers is nationally famous for its pies and does a brisk mail order business all over the country. There was certainly a wide choice of fresh baked pies on offer.
I have to say, it was a tough choice, but I went with:
We were the guests of AM, who is my first cousin once removed. Her boys, husband, mom, aunt and several of my other first cousins were there as well. We were so many we had to sit at two tables. The food was delicious and the portions abundant. I can highly recommend what I had. Their mashed potato casserole is out of this world!
Here, left to right, are my first cousins MW, EJ, my mom, and my first cousins SJ, and WM (MW’s sister). My first cousin GM (SJ’s sister), and her daughter AM were up sorting out seating. As you can see from the background, Royers’ decor is a somewhat claustrophobic country kitsch. It’s actually a cafe rather than a restaurant, and I would set its maximum capacity at around 40 people. It was packed!
After dinner, we all went to my first cousin -1x*’s house for pie and visiting. She has a lovely and historic 1864 home (left) which was moved in from somewhere else to their property just outside of Round Top and has been thoughtfully renovated. They have recently sold the house, and are building a new house on property that is on the other side of Round Top, behind the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Their acerage includes a creek where my great great grandfather used to fish and hunt.
It was well after dark by the time we got back to the Wellspring Retreat. We sat on the front porch for a while, enjoyed the lovely weather, rocked, and talked until nearly midnight. I saw a shooting star and made a wish.
All too soon, we climbed the stairs to our little room up under the eaves. We had to be up early as church started at 8 o’clock!