Two weekends ago (May 22 to 24), it really occurred to me that I have an awesome job that suits me. I was sent down to Fredericksburg, Texas – beautiful Texas “Hill Country,” in all its glory – to cover the Crawfish Fest and Gumbo Cook-off for the weekend. Look for that article in the September/October issue of GRIT. But during my time in Fredericksburg, I was lucky enough to stay at a bed-and-breakfast, Runnymede Country Inn, and it was an experience I will not soon forget.
When I was a kid, I remember there being a bed-and-breakfast (b-and-b) about 15 miles away from our farmhouse. We drove by it every time we went to our family’s favorite Mexican restaurant. And, of course, I always pictured it as a place with little more than a bed and breakfast … probably even breakfast served in the bed. Later, that perception faded like many other childhood mental images, but I really never paid much mind to bed-and-breakfasts before I landed at Runnymede.
On the Friday I arrived in Fredericksburg, I promptly bought a pound of crawfish, learned how to eat it and settled at a picnic table sort of taking in the scene of a crawfish festival – the first I’d ever been to.
At about midnight, I headed down the road to find the country inn I’d looked at online and perceived in my head. Two to three miles from downtown Fredericksburg, a large country-looking house with cottages spread across the landscape stood in the remote darkness, where the sounds of the city are inaudible and the stars at night are big and bright (deep in the heart, of Texas). I was here to work, but it made me feel more at peace than any vacation I’ve been on in more than 2 years. I was in the country, where my heart always is.
Coming down the stairs the next morning, I immediately smelled eggs, which turned out to be a quiche, and other lovely, country smells – baked cornmeal scones, ham and coffee.
Later, walking around the grounds, it occurred to me … Motel 8s, Holiday Inns and the like don’t hold a stick to these sorts of accommodations.
Everything about it, from the sisters – Anne and Jenny Farrar, who own, operate and live at Runnymede – to the cottages and gazebo, felt down-home to me. It’s more intimate, holding 18 to 24 people most of the time during the busy season, and you can talk to any number of diverse yet cordial people.
Jenny told me they’ve had guests from London, Germany and South Africa. Then, after I had my breakfast, the Farrars where right there making sure everything tasted okay and even seemed a little embarrassed when I brought my dirty dishes to the sink, almost in a, “Oh, no, we’ll get that,” sort of way.
I guess what surprised me most was the fact that I’d never really thought of vacationing like this. For those who love the country, bed-and-breakfasts like Runnymede feel like home, yet not home (or at least it did to me). Beautiful, country landscapes and friendly people, yet you don’t need to bother bringing your dishes to the sink.
The reservation company I used to book Runnymede, Gastehaus Schmidt, is the oldest reservation service in Texas’ Hill Country, and today it services about 175 properties, most of which are in Gillespie County. Gastehaus Schmidt reservation service is the only way to book a room at Runnymede and several other similar lodgings throughout that part of the state.
What about you? How and where do you prefer to vacation and what types of lodgings are your favorite?
Caleb Reganand his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on Google+.