A historic hotel in the Texas hill country

One thing is for sure, Ray and I get more than our fair share of traveling. We have traversed the Great Plains, camped along the coast from Texas to Key West and we are exploring every inch of what this great state has to offer. One of the best things about traveling is the quaint Texas towns we find and the hidden gems of restaurants these towns posses. One such favorite town of ours is  Rocksprings, Tx.  To many, Rocksprings may look like a one horse town but a stay in the Historic Rocksprings Hotel and a home cooked Mexican breakfast will change anyone’s perception. The hotel is rustic with orginal hardwood floors that span throughout all the rooms in the hotel. The hotel has a “me casa es su casa” feel. One that allows guests to merrily make their way down to the kitchen to grab a midnight snack. There are several large siting room filled with antique furniture, each table displaying books on art, Native American culture and the area’s natural history.  There is a porch that wraps around the hotel with rocking chairs to sit on at night after a bath in a clawfoot bathtub. One if the best things about this hotel apart from  the owners hospitality, is the old lady who stands beside the staircase in the lobby. A second glance will reveal that the lady by the staircase is a wax figure but only after you have greeted her with a smile or a late night “hello. ”

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In the mornings, we always make it our mission to eat “Nora’s Special,” a home cooked Mexican breakfast just down the street. Nora’s Special is a personalized plate named after Nora herself, a long time customer who we meet in the restaurant.  The plate isn’t listed on the menu so do what Nora told us to do “just tell ’em you want Nora’s special.”

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Homemade flour tortillas, salsa, beans with scrambled eggs and coffee to boot makes this place a must eat for us whenever we find ourselves in the Texas Hill Country. We have tried and tried again to shoot a photo that captures the taste and aroma of Nora’s Special but we can’t restrain ourselves when our food arrives at the table. All of the photos we have are of half eaten plates we snapped while our coffee was being refilled.

-Jessie Story

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Our girl Charlie

Our days begin early and come to a close around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. in the morning. Despite our nocturnal lifestyle, Ray without fail awakens around 6:00, 6:30 in the morning. I do not. But despite my lack of personality in the mornings, our afternoons are speckled with naps. Recently, I was awoken by Ray’s dog,  Charlie. I keep a camera on my nightstand and grabbed it to snap a few pictures. This is the face of a dog that wants to play.

-Jessie Story

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Big Bend, we bid you adieu

Our moonlit nights in Big Bend National Park were spent meandering along the Rio Grande where bats swooped over our heads, curious western screech owls put on quite a show for our cameras and “stores” of handmade walking sticks and trinkets were left with money jars on the side of paths by residents from south of the border. We made a stop at the hot springs to wrap up a night of filming with a little night photography. There, we photographed three stone buildings that at one time served as motels and stores in the ghost town. A step into the doorway of the first building revealed a clusters of pallid bats in their night roost, hanging just above our heads. The inside walls of the buildings are decorated with faded, hand painted murals while the outside of the stone buildings are shaded from the moonlight by palm trees.  Together, the shade of palm trees, moonlight, night sounds and the warmth in the air created a ambiance that was reminiscent of “Hotel California.”

-Jessie Story

Hot Springs TX at night

Hot Springs TX at night

Hot Springs TX at night

Good nests make good neighbors

Cliff swallow colonies are bustling communities that are quite loud and easily distinguished by their mud nest. These birds are commonly seen through the windows of your car as you pass over bridges and overpasses. Despite what you may think you see from your car window, a closer look reveals that a day in the life of a cliff swallow can be quite trying.

– Jessie Story

Cliff swallows, WTAMU, texas Wild, PBS,