Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July Road Trip

This upside down summer continues to flummox us. Roasting in May, broiling in June, and not a drop of meaningful rain into the bargain, and then here comes July. Temperatures are no longer flirting with the century mark every day. Instead they’re in the low 90s and upper 80s. The reason? The rain has returned. This is good, right? Well, there are reasons to go against my native Texan nature and curse the rain, but that’s a matter for another blog. This entry is about our second foray into the wine country, Saturday, July 5, 2008.

Fifth of July is not just the name of an excellent play by Lanford Wilson, at our house it’s the day after the big BBQ/pool party marking mid-summer and our national birthday. It means moving slowly and groaning about our lack of restraint with a knife and fork [even the plastic kind], and how perhaps we should have reapplied that sun screen. We collectively waddle in front of our collective television sets and watch commercials exhorting us to “come on down for our 4th of July mattress event!” Mattress event? The mind races.

But there we were on the 5th, loading up Steve’s Mazda3 with portable chairs and softball gloves as well as Kathy’s picnic hauler loaded with fruit, hummus, prosciutto, cheese, and crackers of all sorts. We also took a map with the locations of three Hill Country Wineries. Why? Well, for one thing we needed a bottle of good wine to wash down all that picnic food. And, while it wasn’t like we didn’t have 50 or 60 bottles at both our houses, wine is always a healthy part of a Tim and Bob Show road trip.

We got a little later start than I thought we would. Although Steve and Kathy stayed the night in Casa de Smoked Ribs, Steve had a few errands to run before we left. But it was still the right side of noon when we set off. We took advantage of the lack of holiday traffic to connect to US281 and head north towards Lake Buchanan. There, near a little village called Tow, we found Fall Creek Wineries. It’s within sight of Lake Buchanan and, as a matter of fact, we could have taken our freshly purchased Viognier to a picnic table overlooking the lake had we preferred. However, there was a band playing the blues, and we just can’t resist live music. So we found ourselves an empty table, destroyed some tasty groceries – and all of the wine – while tapping our toes to the band, at least two members of which (as Steve delighted in telling me) were even older than me. This being a holiday weekend, all the Hill Country wineries had some sort of event going, and the tasting rooms were very busy. While we had a great lunch and tasted some swell wines, we didn’t get a chance to talk to the owner or manager or person who books the music. We left our promo-pak with Wanda and retraced our steps to Johnson City.

Being well-fed and with the taste of good Texas grape on our lips, we piled back into the Mazda and did a little re-tracing of steps. The second leg was easier on us. This could be because we weren’t torturing ourselves with the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Book, or it could be because we were enjoying the tunes on KITY as we drove, or it could be because it was a shorter trip. In any event, it didn’t take long to locate Texas Hill Country Vineyards in Johnson City. Texas Hill Country’s tasting room was being run by two hard-working and cheerful young ladies. Not only did they hook us up with some good tasting material, but one of them even left her post for a minute to locate Gary, the co-owner. As we were paying the tab for some Due Blanco and Kick Butt Cab, we chatted with Gary about the possibility of entertaining his clientele sometime in the future. Gary is a convivial sort and showed us most of the property including the performance space. He said he’d check us out on our website and we said we’d love to hear from him. Leaving another promo-pak behind, we drove off estimating the amount of time it would take some of the more adventurous Tim and Bob Nationals to get to Johnson City for a gig. We’re looking forward to hearing from Gary.

The last stop was Dry Comal Creek in New Braunfels. We continued on down US281 until we turned east on Texas 46. Once there, all we needed to do was look for Herbelin Rd, and there it was. Once again, the tasting room was hopping. It was after 4:30 by this time, and there were mini-buses bringing folks from the surrounding big cities. I managed to taste two wines, but I’m afraid that the rigor of the 4th and the wine of the 5th got the better of my old carcass, and I left the rest of the tasting/purchasing to “the younger members of the band.” As they tasted and sounded out the management about the possibility of gigs, I found myself a comfortable chair on their expansive porch. It was partly cloudy, and this made the blue of the South Texas sky stand out even more brilliantly. There was a nice cooling breeze, and my eyes might have even closed from time to time.

And then it was back into the car to talk about the adventures of the day, and to speculate about the possibility of new venues and new audiences. We also took the time to think about the birthday of the nation, and about how we’re luckier than most – playing music, meeting new people, eating good food, drinking good wine, and hanging out with our friends. Life is good.

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