Saturday, May 25, 2013

Inn on Lake Granbury--Texas country inn with an elegant setting

Mixed berry bread pudding
I’m sitting at the breakfast table at Inn on Lake Granbury trying not to over-indulge. Problem is there’s an abundance of food, and it’s all worthy of five stars.  Cathy Casey, owner and chef, has prepared a fabulous spread of her delicious mixed berry bread pudding, Southwestern hominy, scrambled eggs, bacon, and a generous fresh fruit salad. And tomorrow Casey plans to serve her specialty, upside down banana walnut French toast, with sweet and savory eggs and peach cobbler. I simply can’t turn anything down.


Since arriving a day ago, we’ve come to expect such indulgences at the Inn, one of Granbury, Texas’ finest accommodations. Spectacular grounds overlooking 300 feet of lakefront are the perfect backdrop for 15 rooms, suites, and guest houses. Brides have discovered the setting, too; so Casey, as full-service wedding planner and caterer, hosted 63 weddings on the property in 2012.
The main house at Inn on Lake Granbury

That’s an indication of how successful the Inn has become—with a lot of hard work from the owners. Living in California when 9/11 occurred, Casey and her husband Jim Leitch were ready for a career change that involved less travel and more family. They looked at properties for two years before purchasing the house and moving to Granbury in June 2003 to start their bed and breakfast.
The Brazos Room at Inn on Lake Granbury
The couple completely gutted the house and rebuilt it inside and out. They replaced the pool and added more decking. The main house was decorated in an old-world style that’s elegant without being fussy. Newer loft accommodations are more contemporary and decorated with art work from a local, nationally-known artist. The glass-walled Lake House enjoys unobstructed views of the Granbury Lake. Under their guidance, this renovation process earned the property acclaim as a Distinguished Inn of North America by the Select Registry.

All rooms have flat-screen TVs with cable, DVD players, and iPod/ iPhone docking stations. Wi-fi is available through the Inn. Some rooms have fireplaces and others have balconies or porches. The bathroom in the Brazos rooms where we're staying has a steam shower, which we try out one night. Across the hall is John St. Helen room, the name John Wilkes Boothe, assassinator of President Lincoln, took when he spent time in Granbury.
View of Lake Granbury from the Inn's backyard
Groups using the conference facility have the opportunity for fresh air experiences when strolling paths along the Inn’s gardens and lakefront. One evening, hubby and I sit in the lake-facing tree swing, watching motor boats and kayakers go by. Sam, the resident cat, hops up and makes himself comfortable in Larry’s lap.
Late afternoon drinks and appetizers are provided each day in the main building for overnight guests, and a continental breakfast of pastries and juice is laid out each morning—teasers for the full gourmet breakfast served around 9:00 a.m.


Loft rooms are more
contemporary
The Inn at Lake Granbury is located just a short walk from the Granbury Square and historic district. We stayed at the Inn while attending the annual Wine Walk festival in April, but numerous special events are held throughout the year. Check the web site www.granburytx.com for specific information and dates to plan your visit.

Or just come whenver you feel the need for a getaway. Located 40 minutes from Fort Worth and less than three hours from Austin, Granbury is a fun and friendly town. It's rich in frontier folklore and Texas history and has a good variety of shopping and dining options. Park your car at the Inn and walk to most notable sites.
 
Many buildings in Granbury's
square have historical
significance and plaques.
Take time to relax by the pool or lake when you stay at the Inn on Lake Grabury. But bring a hearty appetite--in this B and B, the bed is perfectly comfortable, but the breakfast simply excels.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Read more travel stories at Striped Pot and Austin Adventure Travel

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer festivals at Winter Park--Colorado's favorite playground

Colorful flowers bloom in
pring and summer
Photo: winterparkladgingcompany.com
It’s no secret that folks leave Texas (and other states) during the hot summer months, and many of them head for Colorado. Attractions include beautiful scenery, cool temperatures, nature activities—and tons of festivals.

From music to marathons, the Winter Park-Fraser Valley region, 65 miles west of Denver, has scheduled fun festivals to suit a variety of interests, but there’s much more to keep you occupied when the festival isn’t in session. For starters, make good use of 600 miles of mountain bike trails. There’s a reason the region is called “Mountain Bike Capital U.S.A. Drive through or take a hike in the breathtaking Colorado Rockies. Or tackle fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, golfing, and a host of other activities.
Hiking can be a family activity.
Photo: Bing.com

To help plan your vacation, here are 2013 dates and a recap of seven signature summer events. Any of these would provide an excellent reason for a trip to Winter Park.

June 27-30: Blues from the Top, presented by the Grand County Blues Society (Hideaway Park, Winter Park)
This funk fest was voted “Best Blues Festival” by Colorado Blues Society Members. Featured acts include Mud Morganfield, Sena Ehrhardt, Kara Grainger, Austin Young and Southern Hospitality, just to name a few.

July 6: Run for Independence
This annual five-mile fun run/walk event traces the Fraser River Trail from Winter Park Resort to Fraser. The event is for all ages and abilities and benefits the Scott Hughes Foundation and Children’s Hospital. Participants celebrate at the finish line with a number of fun-filled activities and awards.


July 6-August 10: High Country Stampede Rodeo
Now in its 30th year, this rodeo features more than 2,000 cowboys and cowgirls, competing in traditional rodeo events like calf roping, bareback riding and barrel racing.

July 13: Winter Park SolShine
This free festival features national, regional and local live music. Merchandise and food vendors will be on hand, and there is a beer garden to add to the festive environment.

July 20-21: Winter Park Jazz Festival
Jazz Festival attracts visitors.
Photo: Ore Communications
Colorado’s biggest summer music festival is celebrating its 31st season. The lineup this year includes some of the jazz world’s biggest stars. Book tickets – and lodging – early; this show sells out every year.

Aug. 3: Winter Park Music Festival
Continuing Winter Park’s strong tradition of free music festivals, the Winter Park Music Festival also offers VIP tickets for those who prefer a little pampering. Past line-ups have included acts like Night Ranger, Pat Travers, Lewis and Floorwax and Groove Hawgs.

View beautiful scenery around Winter Park/Fraser.
Photo: virtualcities.com
Aug. 10: Winter Park Beer Festival
This beer sampling event features 25 craft breweries and live music. Merchandise and food vendors will also be around during the festival.

For more information check out Winter Park’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/playwinterpark, or check the website for Winter Park-Fraser Chamber (www.PlayWinterPark.com)

Information courtesy of Gaylene Ore, Ore Communications, gaylene@orecommunications.com
Diane Ehlert, Winter Park-Fraser Chamber, dehlert@playwinterpark.com

 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Step into history at Gristmill Restaurant in Gruene, Texas


I’m sitting in the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar in the Gruene Historic District enjoying skewered bacon-wrapped shrimp layered on a green salad. Larry and I have been visiting sites around New Braunfels (Gruene is officially part of New Braunfels) that families might enjoy on vacation this summer, and this was the perfect place to reflect on our findings over lunch.

Remnant of burned wall on Gristmill Restaurant
It’s hard to beat the Gristmill for delicious food, great views, and a friendly, casual ambience. Built from the remaining structure of a water-powered cotton gin that burned to the ground in 1922, the Gristmill has grown and expanded into a multi-level facility that can seat 950 people. Some days, especially on weekends, the tables are full. Indoor and outdoor bars provide relaxing places to wait, if necessary.

 In 1977 Pat Molak, who had also purchased and restored the aging Gruene Hall, began cooking and serving hamburgers and steaks from one corner of the former cotton gin. It was so successful that he added sprawling lower decks facing the Guadalupe River. Eventually the Turkey and Boar rooms, aptly named for the stuffed animals used as d├ęcor, were added and outfitted with stone fireplaces. The River Grove, an open air, brick patio overlooking the river, was added in 1998.

The Boar Room is great for special events.
Located just 30 minutes from San Antonio by car and 45 minutes from Austin, the Gristmill was placed on the National Register ofHistoric Places in 1975. With its scenic location on a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River, the restaurant is a destination for thousands of visitors (locals love it, too) each year. The menu still features Texas fare including chicken fried steak (Larry’s choice), fresh fish, and enormous sandwiches.

Be sure to get an order of the thick, chunky onion rings (small size is plenty!) If you save room for dessert, the Jack Daniel’s Pecan Pie is a customer favorite. Hang around after dining to shop antique or specialty stores that line the streets of this historic German settlement, or listen to live music in Gruene Hall next door. Families and couples enjoy strolling around the town that time forgot. For me, the Gristmill has certainly contributed to Gruene’s reputation as a major tourist attraction in Texas.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
Read more travel stories at Striped Pot and Austin Adventure Travel