Get Set For Bandera's Latest 'Wild West Adventure'
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
Last month, media, event planners and owners of entertainment venues, along with members of the Bandera - and beyond - business community, got an up-close-and-personal look at the county's latest "Wild West Adventure."
Owners of the Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch and the Cross T Ranch, ranches tucked away off Bear Spring Road, have created a series of appealing experiences for visitors looking for memories of the Old West to take home with them.
During an evening of entertainment, Russell Tiner, who, along with his wife, Marci, owns and operates Cross T Ranch, hosted tomahawk throwing, a mini mountain man rendezvous, chuck wagon vittles and gun fighting vignettes in a ghost town, ending with songs and s'mores around a campfire.
Tiner gave a quick overview of the concept as invited guests relaxed on a campsite overlooking Hill Country vistas that stretched forever. "We're showcasing this unique location and offering a series of 'Wild West Adventures' to small tours groups from across the United States and Europe," he said. However, other targeted population segments include wounded warriors and physically challenged children, reunions, corporate conferences, weddings and birthday parties, among others.
A centerpiece of the experience will be morning and evening horseback rides across the 5,000-acre Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch. "This past summer, we tried not to ride in the heat of the day," Tiner explained.
And, these outings are not just the nose-to-tail rides usually offered by dude ranches, he noted. "We evaluate all our riders and allow them to spread out during the ride," Tiner said. "More experienced riders can trot and canter, and we have horses to fit any style rider." Additionally, rides are limited to 10 people with one wrangler for every four people or less. Although 90-minute rides are the norm, longer ones and even overnight excursions, which include bunking down in a western-style camp, can be arranged.
"I've ridden all over the country and this is the best spot ever," Tiner said.
Less primitive lodging is also available at the Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch Lodge. Built in 1908, the lodge sleeps 10 comfortably, while a nearby cabin sleeps two.
Established in a pristine part of the Hill Country, Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch's topography includes hidden canyons, seven spring-fed lakes, scenic valleys and, of course, hills, hills and more hills. With an elevation that ranges from 1,000 feet on valley floors with grass "belly deep on a horse" to almost 2,000 feet high in less than two miles, riders, bikers and hikers are constantly surrounded by breathtaking panoramas - and when I say, "Breathtaking," I mean breathtaking. That ain't hyperbole, folks.
And, even cowboys and cowgals like to scour the rocks for fossils and check out the dinosaur tracks discovered in a creek bed. There is truly "something for everyone" at the Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch.
No one provides western-style victuals - and all the trimmin's - better than Richard Berry of Broken Spoke Catering. His "scratch cookin'" precludes anything pre-made or ready cooked.
For the preview, he and his wife served melt-in-your-mouth brisket and hearty homemade sausage, stick-to-your-ribs spicy beans and tangy coleslaw - along with a tasty peach cobbler for dessert - and most certainly de rigueur fresh white bread.
If Berry's beans stuck to our ribs, the bread stuck to the roofs of our mouths - just like it was supposed to! Let me tell you, that was some good eatin'.
As for the rest of the "Wild West Adventure," there is a veritable smorgasbord of cowboy-centric experiences from which to choose, including performances by Kevin Fitzpatrick, Bandera's world champion trick roper; gun fighting vignettes by the Bandera Cattle Company, the official gunfighters of the City of Bandera; and sittin' around the campfire with Makin' Dust, storyteller, cowboy poet and musician. "Wild West Adventure" packages can be tailored for every group and function.
"It's all about keeping it western in the Hill Country," Tiner said.
And each component of the various packages takes place against drop-dead backdrops, underscoring the Texas Hill Country as one of the most beautiful places in America.
For more information on scheduling a "Wild West Adventure," contact Tiner at 210-291-2921, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thecrosstranch.com. For information on the Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch, visit www.northruppipecreekranc.com or call 830-535-4144.
This will be one "Wild West Adventure" you won't soon forget.