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Lost Maples State Natural Area — Vanderpool, TX

After two weeks vacationing and away from Goldie, it was time to mount the saddle and explore what would be our one-before-the-last, summer escapade into the Hill Country. For this, we chose to ride into the confines of the beautifully green and wonderfully scenic Vanderpool — Kerville back roads.

We left Beto’s house before 7:00 AM on Saturday, July 31, 2010. Our first leg of the ride took us to Castroville some 25 miles from Beto’s house on US HWY 90. There we ate breakfast at The Rodeo Grill a Mexican restaurant with a definite German swirl. After breakfast tacos, and a good cup of coffee we headed off to Hondo so we could take our first curvy road of the trip, FM 462. For over a little more than 20 miles we warmed up on the curves and cooled off to the 75-degree temperature of the Hill Country into Tarpley where we took a left on FM 470 into RR 187 to get to Vanderpool.

As soon as we got on 187, the scenery changed to a beautiful road already at the edge of Lost Maples. The temperature continued to be in the 70’s, whereas Goldie’s weather band was reporting to me that San Antonio was already reaching a sweltering 89 degrees at 9:40 in the morning. We were not that far from San Antonio, yet, I never felt so far away from it. The greenery, the scent of the forest, the temperature, all seemed to combine to give me a sense of being high that I rather enjoyed. I wondered if Beto was feeling the same.

In Vanderpool we looked for the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum. The GPS somehow managed to take us exactly to the opposite side of the town insisting that a sharp curve on HWY 187 was where the museum was. Frustrated because we couldn’t find it, we decided to continue on our journey, but when we left the town, we found the museum. We went in, paid our fee, and relished in the sight of dozens of beautiful, old motorcycles. On the inside I was hoping to see my first motorcycle parked among the others, a 1965 Yamaha Catalina, but I was not that lucky; however, I did see several other makes that rode alongside my Yamaha back in the day. Beto bought himself a patch and treated me to a pin for my vest.

The most beautiful part of the journey was exactly between Vanderpool and Hunt. What a sight! The Guadalupe River ran right next to the road on one side while on the other were country inns, resorts, and huge bed and breakfasts and houses with acres and acres of land. Crepe Myrtle trees bloomed at the gates of those country-looking architectural wonders, flowers were strategically placed so every single one of them could be seen, even the cows looked like they gave healthier milk in all that area. Yes, Lost Maples would definitely be a place to live without worries.

Beto was running out of gas halfway to Hunt, but that didn’t deter us to have a friendly game of Simon Says on the curviest road we took, the one between Vanderpool and Hunt. Through up-and-down hills and twisty curves, one of us did what the other was doing. If Beto raised his arms as if on a roller coaster when going down hill, I would have to do the same, if I decided to tease him by downshifting one gear too many on downhill curves (and make him run out of gas, ☺), he complied. We had fun.

Hunt was just as Germanically charming as the rest of the Lost Maples towns. On the road we must have passed at least five different camps of all sorts: church camps, a YMCA camp, girls camp, boys camp. Fortunately for Beto, he didn’t run out of gas, but according to when he filled up, he only had about a dozen miles to go before running out of gas. Comfortably, I had a little less than half a tank. It is one of the many advantages to riding a Hondapotamus, the gas tank holds twice as much gas as Bear Bait’s. After filling both bikes up, we went into the store-restaurant to eat lunch. The weather was still splendid even though it was past noon.

Lunch in our bellies, we headed towards Ingram and Kerville. A few miles after Kerville, Beto turned left on a street named Elm Pass Rd, getting out of the main road we were following. Later on he told me he thought of something I had said in the past that went something like this: “Every once in a while turn left. If after a few miles you don’t like it, turn right.” He took it to heart and we followed Elm Pass for quite a few miles. The road seemed to be paved pretty well, two lanes, nice yellow line down the middle. After a while, the line disappeared and the road narrowed. I started getting worried. Not long after that, the road became a really-really narrow road for one vehicle alone. The road started to feel like the Twilight Zone. I swore to myself that if at any moment it turned into a dirt road, I would turn around, no matter how long it would take me to get back to the original detour. Apparently none of this seemed to phase Beto. He kept riding along fast.

We got out of the road from hell after what seemed that we rode it forever and shortly arrived in Bandera. The sight of familiar streets and buildings was welcoming. We stopped for a bottle of water and after hydrating, we continued on back home to San Antonio on HWY 16.

The whole trip was approximately 250 miles and took us 7.5 hours to complete. However, the company was excellent, the fun we had was great, and the memories will last a long time. Sadly, we only have more outing in this beautiful area before I head back home for another year of school work.

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Lost Maples

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