Home Away from Home


Among the many fascinating area of Texas is the Hill Country. I had heard of the area made up of 45 or so towns just outside of Austin and San Antonio, but never quite ventured to explore them. Again, I am usually driven to more tropical destination.

A friend was looking for a retirement property and told me of his fascination with the Texas Hill Country and of its waterways. Water? That got my attention. There are a host of lakes in the Hill Country that are fed by one major river.

According to experts in Texas, the Colorado River flows in south of Lubbock, and on into the Llano Estacado (near Lamesa). It then continues southeast through several reservoirs into the Texas Hill Country.

One of those lakes fed by the Colorado River is Lake LBJ. A short distance away is Lake Marble Falls, known for the cascading falls from which it was named. The up and coming town of Marble Falls is located about 47 miles northwest of Austin and 85 north of San Antonio. The falls were a tourist attraction and part of the history of the five lakes that surround the area and bring an abundance of water sports and activities to the local businesses.

One of those local favorite businesses is the Blue Bonnet Café, where Texas politicians, stars and even a President have dined. Main Street is home to the great shops, restaurants and entertainment venues like the restored historic building, The Driftwood Theatre. Owner, Buster Russell books great musical acts like The Gimbels and Michael Murphy.

There are sculptures that line the streets that attract a yearly art festival. In April, the flowering blue bonnet flowers bring tourists from all over Texas to take in this beautiful landscape. Every August brings the noise and thunder of the high powered boat races on Lake Marble Falls.

Just around the corner on Third Street sits the grand lady, The Wallace Guest House. This 1907 Victorian was originally the home of Victor Bendt and opened as the Brendt Hotel. Later is sold to Luther Mitchell and Gertrude Anna Ryan Wallace and after her death, the hotel operation ended and the building became the home and private residence of their youngest child Margaret Wallace. The home, now a guest house, has been reconfigured to five suites complete with kitchenettes, living areas, and bedrooms with either king, or queen bed with ensuite baths. The suites are named after the five area lakes: Marble Falls, LBJ, Inks, Travis and Buchanan. Donna runs the place for the owner and is very pleasant and helpful with directions, things to do and area favorites.

Across from the Wallace is Darci’s Deli serving great sandwiches and cookies. Next door is The R Bar & Grill which is great for some Tex-Mex and a cold beer. Take a few more steps and across 281 you can stop by the Blue Bonnet and have a piece of their fresh baked pies.

My return visits to Marble Falls have allowed me to get to know several of the locals who I make an effort to see every visit, like Martha at Vintage Vogue resale shop and John and Dave at the historical Blue Bonnet Cafe. The previous owners of the Wallace Guest House, Rebecca and Phil have become great friends and we have shared tons of laughter and stories over food and wine. Rebecca is hilariously funny and just the mention of her name brings a smile to my face.

I often go back to partake of some of the great holiday festivities. Once we even met country singer, songwriter Susan Gibson. She penned the song Wide Open Spaces for which the Dixie Chicks made into a hit. Susan performed at a July fourth concert a few years back. She is a talented artist and delighted us with her guitar playing and singing several of her original songs.

We ate bar-b-q with the members of a local church during that Fourth of July fireworks show right on the lake. The same like side is host to an annual Parade of Lights during the Christmas holiday season. It all warms the heart and in it I have found a home away from home.