Tag Archives: scenic drives in Texas

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. No phones. No internet. No distractions. Just peace & quiet. The Complete Package found such a place – a respite from the big city – deep in the heart of Texas. It’s called St. Clare’s Cabin and it was perfection. Here’s a photo journal of our week in the country.

LeakeyTX - St Clare's Cabin

Nestled in a valley near the Sabinal River, St. Clare’s Cabin is between the towns of Leakey and Vanderpool, Texas and only 8 miles or so from Lost Maples State Park. Everything about the cabin’s location is scenic.

LeakeyTX - Cabin Entry

LeakeyTX - Welcome to St Clares

What a wonderful surprise to walk into such a warm, cozy and beautifully decorated home. I think I want to live here. Permanently.

LeakeyTX - Cabin from Bedroom Doors

LeakeyTX - Cabin View from Front Door

I love the dining nook table. It is handcrafted with an inlaid state of Texas in the middle and a star marking the cabin’s location. It’s all about the details.

LeakeyTX - Dining Nook

Here’s a close-up of that equestrian collage hanging over the dining table.

LeakeyTX - Equestrian Collage

This is what it means when someone says “the decorator paid such great attention to detail.” Every touch at St. Clare’s Cabin was thoughtfully placed.

LeakeyTX - Front Porch Love

LeakeyTX - Retro Picnic Decor

LeakeyTX - Cozy Kitchen

LeakeyTX - Gorgeous Dishes

LeakeyTX - Cute Country Bath

LeakeyTX - Bathroom Touches

I’m not ashamed to say I squealed like a little girl when I saw that the cabin was decorated in retro Christmas. I absolutely loved it!

LeakeyTX - Holiday Fireplace

LeakeyTX - Christmas Mantle

LeakeyTX - Pinnochio Tree Topper

Speaking of Christmas, as soon as we got there, Dobie (our Christmas Shelf Elf) found a fun new buddy to hang out with. Literally.

LeakeyTX - Wild Boar & Elf

When he got bored with the boar (ha-ha), he stayed busy pranking the kids. He was found swinging from the shower rod, soaking in a mini-marshmallow bath, and climbing a decorative shutter in the kitchen. I think he was motivated by that little Hershey bar. He’s definitely my kind of elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Climbing for Candy

After snacking on chocolate, we found him napping in the tissue box. I think it was the only time he sat still all week. He’s an active, mischievous little elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Treats & Nap

Speaking of sleeping, St. Clare’s Cabin has two lovely bedrooms, each with a queen bed (one firm, one soft). The first was decorated in a cowboy theme.

LeakeyTX - The Cowboy Bedroom

The second paid tribute to a long-lost relative and his military service. Both bedrooms had limestone floor, quilts made by the owner, and hand-embroidered pillow shams. Again with the details. Love, love, love it. Very sweet.

LeakeyTX - Second Bedroom

Also sweet? The cabin’s large front porch. I love a screened porch – a love directly traced back to my maternal grandmother who lived on the Red River outside of Denison, Texas. I have many, many fond memories of playing on her porch. I’m not sure there’s anything better than a cabin with a big screened porch, unless it’s a porch with a swing. Ever slept on a screened porch on a beautiful summer night? It’s a little piece of heaven.

LeakeyTX - St Clares Cabin & Kids

LeakeyTX - Porch View of Front Yard

The fenced yard is huge, and I loved this cute tin-topped table & chairs.

LeakeyTX - Porch Table at Cabin

We invited our daughter, son-in-law and two grandkids to join us for a weekend. I think they enjoyed the cabin as much as we did, but Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug reeeeealy loved it. They took full advantage of the great outdoors.

They fell in love with the creek that lines one side of the property.

LeakeyTX - Creek at the Cabin

Or maybe it was the plethora of limestone rocks they could toss into the creek.

LeakeyTX - Kids at the Creek

Over and over and over again – for two straight days.

LeakeyTX - Jonah Tossing Rocks

And then there was the hammock. Those kids loved that hammock.

LeakeyTX - Jonah & Lilly Hammock

LeakeyTX - Lilly in Hammock

We also loved exploring this part of the Texas Hill Country. The Complete Package and I took a different scenic drive every day we were there. I had no idea this part of the state was so lovely.

LeakeyTX - Sabinal River Cypress

LeakeyTX - Scenic Drive - Bluffs

LeakeyTX - Preparing to Cross

LeakeyTX - River Crossing near Concan

LeakeyTX - View of Bluff at Sunset

LeakeyTX - Longhorns

LeakeyTX - Gang of Wild Turkeys

Those are wild turkeys, folks. We saw gangs of them – running amok, causing trouble and tagging cars late at night. It left me wondering how good one of these would be baked up for Christmas Dinner. And then I found myself craving a whiskey & Coke and a turkey sandwich. {heehee}

Each night, I found myself looking forward to sitting by the fire pit with a roaring campfire, or swinging in the hammock as the sun set over the valley, or gazing at a pitch black sky late at night with the brightest stars you’ve ever seen, or curling up in my favorite spot by the window gazing at the mountains.

LeakeyTX - My Baby in the Window

That’s My Baby. She’s keeping my spot warm. Thanks, honey! She’s a good girl.

And now that we’re home, I’m already thinking about our next visit to St. Clare’s Cabin. It’s so lovely in the fall, I want to see it in the spring when the creek is flush and the wildflowers are blooming. And I want to go back in the summer when the rivers are running at capacity and everyone descends on the Frio and Guadalupe Rivers to float in inner tubes and getting a little too sunburned. I want to soak up the fresh air, enjoy the peace & quiet, and watch those gorgeous Hill Country sunsets. And I want to do it as often as possible.

LeakeyTX - Sunset at St Clares Cabin

Want more information on vacation rentals? I highly recommend our two favorite “By Owner” websites – Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) and HomeAway. As with any ‘by owner’ site, the key is to do your homework, read descriptions thoroughly, stick to rentals that include plenty of pictures so you see what you’re getting, and rely on the reviews written by others who’ve stayed there. We’ve rented on these two websites at least 8-10 times, and we have never, ever been disappointed. If you’d like to visit the St. Clare’s Cabin Retreat website, click here.

So… where do you go when YOU want to get away?

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Postcards from Small Town Texas

The Complete Package and I have been enjoying scenic drives to small towns throughout Texas. This is the third in a series of photos documenting our lazy day adventures and highlighting these small town Texas treasures.

Third Stop: Shiner, Texas


Shiner has an unconventional downtown compared to other small towns we’ve visited. Instead of a town square, Shiner’s downtown appears to be one long street running parallel to a railroad track, with shops running for a block or two on either side of the tracks. While I missed that town square vibe, there were plenty of historic buildings to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ over. Most of these were built in 1910-1911. I can never get enough of the gorgeous brick details in these old buildings. The craftsmanship is just stunning and so colorful.

This might just be my favorite downtown shop. Why? Because my mother’s name is Martha and she is an avid quilter; has been ever since she was a wee girl. If she ever decides to move away from Oklahoma, I think she could step right into this place and take over. How perfect is that?


Once you’ve hit all the shops and taken a lunch break, take a short stroll down 6th Street to this bridge over the creek (that’s downtown in the background).


For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with a visit to the Spoetzl Brewery, home of Shiner Beer. For Texas beer lovers, this place is sacred.


There’s something about visiting the Spoetzl Brewery that makes you feel like you’re experiencing Texas history firsthand. Heck, I’m not even a beer drinker and I get excited seeing those gorgeous, enormous copper brewing kettles.


Tours of the brewery are only available Monday through Friday (I know… I don’t get it, either) so plan accordingly if you want to take in the heady brew room in person. If you find yourself in Shiner on a weekend, don’t despair. The gift shop is open on Saturday from 11am-3pm, and you can sample Shiner’s many varieties while browsing the t-shirts, ball caps and other treasures.


If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself there during a beer-themed trade fair. We found table after table of antiques & collectibles under the live oaks in front of the brewery. While we didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without, there was certainly plenty to see and some really interesting people to chat with.


Our last stop was one of the famous painted churches of Texas. Built by Czech and German immigrants, these churches are among some of our most treasured Texas historical buildings. This historical marker tells the tale of Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Shiner (click on the photo to see it in a larger format, then click the ‘back’ arrow on your computer to return to this post).


Just outside the church, we found this pretty little grotto/shrine.


But the real show-stopper is the church itself. Built in 1920-21, it’s a testament to the faith and perseverance of Shinerites as well as a nod to their history and heritage. As luck would have it, the church was locked when we were there. To see photos of the painted interior, you can click on this link to a Google Images page or visit the Texas Escapes page for Saints Cyril & Methodius Church.


What I can tell you is that it’s enormous and absolutely gorgeous from the outside. Even if you find it locked, it’s still worth a leisurely stroll around the church just to enjoy the details of the exterior. It really is a lovely church.

Shiner is located approximately 125 miles west of Houston, 80 miles southeast of Austin, or 90 miles east of San Antonio. For more information on Shiner, visit their website at http://www.shinertx.com/ or visit the Texas Escapes Website.

To see the other stories in this series, go to:
Postcards from Small Town Texas – Hallettsville
Postcards from Small Town Texas – Yoakum

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Filed under Travel Tales

Postcards from Small Town Texas

The Complete Package and I have been enjoying scenic drives to small towns throughout Texas. This is the second in a series of photos documenting our lazy day adventures and highlighting these small town Texas treasures.

Second Stop: Yoakum, Texas

Yoakum, Texas is located between Houston & San Antonio on Highway 95 So., 35 miles south of I-10 and 11 miles south of Shiner. To learn more, visit www.texasescapes.com.

To see the first story in the series – Hallettsville, Texas – click HERE.

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts, Travel Tales