The times of traveling all day and then stopping and finding a place to spend the night are becoming rare. Places fill up, and it is now necessary to make reservations ahead of time, even for campgrounds, maybe especially for campgrounds during the travel season. On this day however I was lucky. Of the few hotels in Leakey TX, “The Historic Leakey Inn” still had a room available as I pulled up at around 6:00.
The reception desk was empty when I found it and so I waited, anticipating that someone would eventually notice me. While I was there, the rustic fireplace lobby was filling with people, locals who greeted each other by name and seemed to be looking forward to some sort of event or activity. A number of the women were wearing the same style sweatshirt, decorated with a yellow ribbon and declaring “Prayer is the Answer”.
Eventually the manager/owner/wife found me at the check in counter. Her past training as a flight attendant probably contributed to her natural style, being very friendly and helpful as she located a room for me. I learned that there was a large patio and dining room that was offering their nightly specials—drinks and a few food items. This was what had attracted the locals to this time and place. The host told me that they had hatched this idea a few years ago, but it had now become this popular “monster” that they had to keep up with. Oh, the burden of a successful business!
After settling into my rustic but clean room with stone walls and too few outlets for my collection of digital gadgets, I went back to the patio lounge and ordered a margarita. The young bartender had to check my ID. Not for my birth date, but for membership. Seeing my confusion, a man next to me explained that the Texas rules for small town liquor licenses required I join a private “club”, before they could serve me. The man turned out to be the manager/owner/husband, and he went on to explain that this was one of several defects in the state’s liquor laws, which for some reason the governor had not seen fit to correct in a recent update to those laws. The last thing I wanted to do was discuss politics in Texas, so I said (aware of my Yankee accent) “That’s interesting.”
I am now a full-fledged member of the “Leakey Inn Club”.
I also ordered one of the food items offered that evening: “Tacos Tapatio” a descriptor I had to look up, which meant “tacos from the city of Guadalajara”. Maybe the two cooks working furiously in the small kitchen were from there. The tacos were unique rolled up tortilla tubes of carnitas, deep fried, then covered with lettuce and veggies in a white sauce like coleslaw, with sliced tomatoes on top. Delicious!
In fact the Mexican food has gotten even better the farther south I go! The previous night, in Llano, I enjoyed a burrito with beef, jalapenos, and other goodies. This just kept proving there was more to discover.
The Texans in this rural area are hard to describe—they seem like ranchers, mechanics and laborers, often wearing seed caps, usually with short-cropped hair but many with extensive beards of various forms—full beard, chin beard, mustache, each trying to be distinctive if not distinguished. They are boisterous, in a way that is both polite and rebellious, which, to my surprise, I found endearing.