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Texan Dude Ranch – The time we got sunburnt in October

USA

, 2020

When we flew into Houston Texas, we didn’t have a plan and didn’t have a flight out booked. We rented a car from the airport for dollars a day and had the best time! We quickly did research and decided we wanted to see some real cowboys, a window into the history the state. So, we knew we had to go to a ranch. But apparently, we had to go to a ‘Dude’ ranch.

But what is a dude ranch?

A dude ranch is a place where city folks (like us) can experience a bit of the country way of life. The term comes from the late 19th Century when ‘dude’ was a term used by cowboys to refer to people in the cities with an urban lifestyle. And a dude ranch is like an immersive cowboy experience (kind of like HBO’s Westworld but without killer robots). So even way back in the 1880s, people wanted to do what we were about to do!

The Silver Spur Ranch entrance

The Silver Spur Guest Ranch in Bandera

We had the best time at The Silver Spur Guest Ranch and only stayed for a few nights, but it’s one of our most vivid memories of Texas. We did everything they had to offer;

  • Lasso and ropin’ practice
  • Hay Ride
  • Campfire songs and s’mores
  • Horse Riding School
  • Digging in the fossil pit
  • Swimming
  • Cowboy cafeteria
The ranch longhorns – a breed of cow more draught resistant than regular cows
Raph doing some roping practice
Country living earns you a cowboy breakfast! You are looking at Country Gravy and biscuit, with a sausage patty, egg and potato hash
The expansive trails around the ranch are good for horses and hiking. We were told to walk noisily to scare rattlesnakes off the path. We didn’t see any, so we must have been doing it right!

The genuine cowboys are cowgirls were informative and charming! They lent us cowboy hats to use while on the Ranch, an absolute must since we didn’t have our own, and the sun was strong even in late October. We used suncream, in the day, but we went for a pre-dinner swim one late afternoon and didn’t think we’d need to reapply suncream. But the sun is always stronger than you think in Texas!

The starry night above the campfire – perfect end to a day on the ranch.

Bandera – Cowboy Capitol of the world

When we went into Bandera (a short taxi away) we were told by the staff at the silver spur to bring the cowboys hats they had lent us in the day. And we saw why! Everyone in town was out with boots and hats, having a brilliant time. Everyone is normally more friendly in the US than we are used to, but in Bandera is was another level! A slightly tipsy looking gent showed Libby his silver revolver at the bar (which she didn’t appreciate) but she assures me it was intended to be welcoming, in a funny Texan way.

11th Street Cowboy Bar – A must visit in town! Be prepared to dance!

The Frontier Times Museum

Authentic Original Cowboy clothes
Armadillos weren’t just stuffed in frontier times!

The Frontier Times museum in Bandera was the first place we went, and it really puts the cowboy history in perspective. I don’t want to show too much, as lots of the artefacts from the centuries really need to be seen in situ to be appreciated. And we did appreciate it a lot!