Focus on the Backroads » Photo Journeys

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  • FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS

    There is approximately 50,000 miles of Interstate Highway in the United States.....filled with cars traveling at an average of 75 miles an hour. Several years ago I began driving the BACKROADS throughout Texas and the surrounding states - discover many fascinating places and people. While traveling "off the beaten path" I have tried to capture the spirit of these forgotten roads in photographs.

    After sharing some of these journeys with folks I have met I've been encouraged to document my travels.........I invite you to FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS!

    "To often......I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen"
    Louis L'Amour

FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS: TEXAS DANCEHALLS – SISTERDALE

Sisterdale, Texas is located in Kendall County, in the valley of Sister Creek.  It is 13 miles North of Boerne, Texas.

Sisterdale, Texas was settled in 1847 by Nicclaus Zink, a German surveyor and one of the many freethinkers that settled in the area.  During the middle 1800 many freethinkers immigrated from Germany to the Texas Hill Country with the hopes to settle and live without the interference of government and church authorities.  Most freethinkers who settled in this area were  very well educated and respected scholars in their native country.

In 1851 Sisterdale received a post office.  Eventually a school house , general store, a cotton gin, and a factory that made cypress shingles were built.  The cotton gin, which was built in 1885 has been restored and is the home of the Sister Creek Vineyards.

It is not know exactly when when the Sisterdale Dancehall was built.  Some of the structures on the site date back to the mid-1800s.  There are remains of the pre-Civil War stone block fort with narrow angular openings that allowed gunmen to fight off indian attacks and to protect the folks from return fire and arrows.  These have the same designs used in Medieval European castles.  Originally the Dancehall was a Opera House, dance hall, and community center.  As in other early Texas towns the Sisterdale Opera House was the center of social activities for the towns folks.  Both the post office and general store stood next door.

A visit to the Sisterdale Dancehall is a must for Texas Road Warriors.   The dancehall sits on the banks of the West Sister Creek.  When you walk into the 3,000 square foot dance hall you step into an important part of the Texas historical past.  It is amazing to step on the original dance floor that was built out of 300 year old long leaf pine.  You then look up at the amazing wood ceilings.  On the grounds there are century old oak trees and of course the old weathered tin roof.

Sisterdale Dancehall is available for private functions and is a very popular wedding site.  During my recent visit I had the pleasure of meeting a soon to be bride and her father.  The future bride had a smile on her face that lit up the hall.  She said that her dream since she was a little girl was to be married at the Sisterdale Dancehall.  To think about 170 years ago Nicclaus Zink had a dream and established a settlement and a new life at the exact location that this young girl today shares that same dream……..Dang DREAMS DO REALLY COME TRUE!

We’ve got to have a dream if we are going to make a dream come true…….Denis Waitley

 

 

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FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS: MUSIC – 2014 RANCH BASH FORT WORTH TEXAS

There are days when we have to celebrate the music  that we listen to when we FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS.  Well yesterday just happened to be one of those days.

The Ranch 95.9 and Masha Milam Music presented their annual Texas Country Music Festival, celebrating the radio stations birthday, which features some of todays biggest names in Texas country music.  RANCH BASH is an annual  one day music festival held this year at Panther Island on the banks of the Trinity River, just north of Downtown Fort Worth.  Past festivals have featured Stoney LaRue, Kevin Fowler Jack Ingram, Wade Bowan, Casey Donahew, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Josh Abbott, Reckless Kelly and many more.

This years line up was no disappointment!  Featured were many new and established artist.  Included were Preston Scott Band, Shane Smith and the Saints, Charla Corn, Prophets and Outlaws, William Clark Green, Green River Ordinance, (THE GREAT) Ray Wylie Hubbard, Bob Schneider, Cory Morrow, and Roger Creager.   This line up proved once again that Texas is the music capital of the world!

Ranch Bash 2014 was a fantastic event and the good news is if you were unable to attend – MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR NEXT YEAR.  It was a day of fun in the sun (90 degrees in October -only in Texas).  Next year join us again as we celebrate the artist and their music that are the soundtrack of our travels down THE BACK ROADS.

Ranch Bash 2014 is summed up with a quote from a Texas Music Legend; George Strait……..I AIN’T HERE FOR A LONG TIME,  I’M HERE FOR A GOOD TIME.

 

 

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FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS: TEXAS DANCE HALL – KENDALIA HALLE

Kendalia, Texas is  located about 25 miles northeast of Boene off FM Raod 473.  The  town was named after George Wilkins Kenall who established  a sheep ranch in the area in the 1840s.  In 1883, Kendalia was first surveyed by D. W. Grady for an early settler, Carl  Vogel, who built a gristmill there.  In 1895 the Curry’s Creek post office was transferred to Kendailia.  By 1900 the town had a general store, a post office, a drug store, and two churches.   Like many of the other towns and communities in the area Kendalia’s economy  was and continues to be dependent primarily on ranching.

Kendalia Halle was built in 1903.  Like many halls built during the period Kendalia Halle was the “place to meet” for entertainment,  family gatherings, and to enjoy live music and over course dancing.  Folks would travel from all over the area spending the weekends visiting, eating, dancing, and family fun.

The red fir lumber used to build the hall was shipped by train from Oregon arriving in Boerne and hauled by horse drawn wagons to the construction site.  Kendailia Halle stands today as a remarkable example of the Texas Dance Halls that were built in the 1800s.  It’s dance floor has been voted the best in Texas

A visit to Kendalia Halle is a step back to a simpler time.  There are regularly scheduled dances at the hall featuring popular Texas artist – at the door you will be greeted by current owners Lee and Judi Temple.  For more information and schedules please visit www.kendaliahalle.com.

For more information about Kendalia Halle and other Texas historic Dance Halls visit www.texasdancehall.com

Way down texas way they play fiddle music every night and the dance hall rings with laughter till the early morning light………….A SLEEP AT THE WHEEL: “Way Down Texas Way”

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FOCUS ON THE BACK ROADS: TEXAS DANCE HALLS – TWIN SISTERS

Twin Sisters, Texas is located in southern Blanco County.  It is named after a pair of hills that can be seen for miles that served as a landmark for early settlers in the area.  In 1854, Joel Cherry homesteaded in the area.  Cherry was from Tennessee (we Texans consider Tennessee a very important ally – REMEMBER THE ALAMO).  In 1856 settlers petitioned and received a post office.  By the end of the 1850’s, Twin Sisters was a major German settlement.

Max Krueger settled in Twin Sisters in 1875.  Krueger owned a grist mill, cotton gin, and one of the three general stores in the town.  In addition to these business ventures he served as the post master and the justice of peace.  In 1869  he opened a dance hall and bowling alley,   these became the entertainment center for the folks in Twin Sisters and the surrounding area.  Max named these Twin Sisters Hall and Bowling Alley.  A major two year drought hit the area in 1894 forcing many of the local famers and ranchers into bankruptcy.  Krueger had to sell out because of the hard economic times.  In 1951 the Twin Sisters Post Office closed and moved to near by Blanco, Texas.  In 1967 the bowling alley burned to the ground.

Through these many years, the Twin Sisters Dance Hall remains.  This hall is considered the oldest Dance Hall in Texas.    Twin Sisters Dance Hall  continues to host a public dance every first Saturday of each month as well as special events through the year.  These dances feature live music and ALL ARE INVITED!

I recently had the pleasure of attending one of these monthly dances at Twin Sisters.  It was a great experience – people of all ages,  young and old, enjoying live music and dancing the night away.  I sat and watch (in my Nikes – little advise wear cowboy boots) as generations of families and friends delighted in  each others company.

When you dance, you purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.  It’s to…..ENJOY EACH STEP ALONG THE WAY               Wayne W Dyer

For more information on Twin Sisters Dance Hall and scheduled events please visit the following websites:

www.twinsistersdancehall.com

www.texasdancehall.org

www.fiddlefestival.texasdancehall.org        this event is schedule at Twin Sisters on Saturday December 6th  – mark you calendars to FIDDLE AROUND AT TWIN SISTERS!

 

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FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS: THE HORIZON

HORIZON (noun) 1. the line or circle that forms the apparent boundary between earth and sky.   2.  the limit or range of perception, knowledge, or interest.

If you are standing (or driving) on a flat road it appears to stretch forever – however because of the curvature of the earth, the horizon is only three miles away.  Unless you are wearing heals then it is a little further!  When standing on a beach at the Pacific Ocean it looks humungous, it appears to stretch forever.  It actually does but you are only seeing three of the nine thousand miles across it.

When I was young my family would drive from Washington State to Montana to visit my grandparents.  Mom and Dad would be up front and my two brothers and I would jump into the back, after fighting who was going to have to sit on the “hump”.  We would head out of the neighborhood to begin our 665 mile drive from Vancouver to Helena (now you know why we fought over who would sit on the hump).  After following the Columbia River for about an hour and after singing 100 bottle of beer on the wall (at least a 100 times – which is actually 10,000 bottles of beer) we would start asking “how much further to Grandma’s house”…..only to be told either it was over the next hill or it was up over the horizon.  Later I realize that everything in life is up over the next horizon.

The horizon provides many things…..in the morning beautiful sunrises, in the evening beautiful sunsets.  It is a marker for a destination driving down the road (just ask my parents).  It is the FOCUS point of many photographs.  Most important it give us hope as we wonder what is BEYOND THE HORIZON:  below is a poem by Abbin Joseph

BEYOND THE HORIZON

The sun disappeared beyond the horizon after burning brightly
The sky appeared rosy like the pomegranate before darkness crept in
Birds in a row swiftly fluttered their wings to reach their nests
I stood still staring at the sky beyond the vast horizon

The horizon is the dividing line between the known and the unknown
Beyond the horizon there is always hope;hope of the unknown
Hope of the unseen,hope of a better tomorrow and a bright future
The horizon is a symbol of days yet to come and duties yet to perform

Beyond the horizon there is the thrill of expectation and zest for life
The readiness to embrace whatever happens for the love of life
The indomitable will to face the challenges of life from time to time
The realization that the battle of life is to be fought till the end

Beyond the horizon there are unfulfilled dreams and unsung songs
Unknown worlds,untrodden paths and unconquered heights
I stood still lost in my thoughts like a naughty kid
Streaks of light appeared beyond the horizon in the farthest end

The horizon brings contradictory thoughts in a disturbed mind
Series of anxious thoughts about the future as well as the present
Revealing the mind’s dilemma to face the unknown fearing failure
Showing man’s basic reluctance for change and novelty due to fear

We dream many things and build castles in the air
They are shattered in a moment by unexpected events
Like a sudden storm that wipes out trees and roofs en route
Life,like the imaginary horizon is full of uncertainties and surprises

 

Keep your eyes on the horizon (and the road)

 

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