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2013-07-18

Find peace, relax, at T9C Lodging

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Sometimes, the stress of everyday living catches up with you. That's when you need to find an activity that is a contrast to whatever it is you do daily. Or, you need to find a place where unwinding is simply the thing to do.

Joanna Stirt and her partner, Chris Lackey, have tried to create just such a place with T9C Lodging in the heart of Bandera. Located in Bandera Estates, the largely residential district between Highway 16 North and FM 3240, Stirt's facility features a circle of RV camper trailers that brings to mind the wagon trains of old.
Thanks to Stirt's outgoing, people loving personality, guests quickly feel a welcome part of the T9C community.
While set in the midst of a neighborhood, the T9C's big back yard seems to blend into the great Hill Country outdoors, with views of distant hills and visits from Bandera's local deer herds.
Stirt never intended to go into the hospitality business. For over two decades, she has operated a successful house cleaning business. The lodging business has grown gradually and rather surprisingly. "I bought an RV for the kids to stay in and then my dad got sick and we got another for him," said Stirt. When the kids moved on and dad passed away, "we had two RVs and didn't know what to do with them."
It wasn't long, however, before the idea of offering Bandera visitors a quiet place to stay began to seem like a part of God's plan for Stirt.
"When we bought the property, we were struck by how spiritual the place was." At first, she was afraid that the RVs would spoil that atmosphere, but she has made every effort to enhance the sense of peace on the property. "We've put out bird feeders, a fountain and wind chimes," she explained. "Our guests get excited about not only seeing the deer but feeding them. They eat out of your hand."
While Stirt has not advertised her site for its healing properties, "we seem to get guests who have illnesses. They're in San Antonio for treatments and just love coming out to Bandera to recover from the stress."
One such patient, a young girl, was asked if there was anything she would like to see added to T9C. Her quiet request for "some grass and a tire swing" was soon answered. And, of course, that tire swing is shaped like a horse!
"We've furnished the porches with an old glider and those old metal lawn chairs," said Stirt. "We didn't even repaint them. They seem to take people back to a different, quieter, slower time."
T9C now has five RVs that can sleep up to five people. There is a flat rate per RV, so "if they feel comfortable squeezing more people in, that's fine!" The RVs go by colorful names like Tin Lizzy, Rustler's Roost and Ms. Lilly. Each offers full kitchens, including coffeemakers and refrigerators, great views and comfy queen or king-sized beds in the main bedrooms.
In keeping with the atmosphere of simplicity, Stirt offers coffee, tea, hot chocolate and the makings for s'mores over the campfire. For groups, Stirt and Lackey will sometimes open up the old chuckwagon for a campfire breakfast.
They are happy to set up special activities for guests like horseback riding or rodeos at local guest ranches.
The T9C would also make a great location for a relaxed family reunion, with everything in Bandera just a short walk away.
Stirt delights in meeting new people from around the world. "I was talking to a New Zealander on the phone and he said 'I'm calling from tomorrow and talking to yesterday.'" A recent group of five Special Forces personnel from Germany "had a blast grilling over the bonfire and riding at Lightning Ranch."
Stirt starts every day looking out over the T9C and praying, "Let me be a blessing to someone today."
The name, by the way, is the opposite of "ginormous"!
To do a little unwinding yourself or to find the perfectly convenient place for your out-of-town guests to stay in the heart of Bandera, call 830-688-7361 or 512-585-4179; email info@t9clodging.com; and check their website at www.T9CLodging.com. They are located at 390 Galveston Street in Bandera.