Luckily the March weather was perfect when we arrived at Star of Texas Bed & Breakfast, outside of Brownwood.
A few spring thundershowers would have been fun if we'd been staying in one of the cottages, but there was a big old opening in the top of our tipi!
Our Host, Don
The tipi was just a short hike from where we parked our car under a tree.
Our host Don, showed us to the tipi, then he told us the ins and outs of working the outdoor shower and camp potty. I didn't pay attention since I wasn't planning on using either. There was guest bathroom up near the office, for wimps like me.
We were pretty amazed at how large and roomy our space was for the night. (22-foot diameter) Of course there wasn't a large bed taking up room, like in a hotel. Instead of a bed there was a cowhide laying on the rock floor, where we could spread our sleeping bags.
There was a fire pit to keep us warm and even a socket or 2, so I guess we could have brought TVs and computers! But there was plenty of stuff for our entertainment. Host-Don encouraged us to try on the Native American clothing. "Dress up in these clothes! Play the drum. Have the whole experience!" He showed us a smudge stick that we could light for a ceremony later. This was like "playing cowboys and Indians" for grownups!
This was no kiddie teepee, though. It had been made by "Nomadic Tipi Makers" who provided the tipis for the film, Dances With Wolves.
He encouraged us to have a fire. "It only gets smoky in here when the fire's dying down." He reminded. "When it's dark out and the fire's blazing, go out and take a look." He said the flickering fire would make the buffalo images on the canvas appear to dance.
Enjoying the Daylight
From the campfire we had a good view of the buffalo painted canvas. It was a perfect setting beside a creek, resting on land where Native Americans roamed years ago. Host-Don said he found arrowheads and even a carved knife when he wandered this land as a kid.
As the sun began to set I tried to focus more on the Indian history rather than the coyotes our host had mentioned. "Let's not talk about the "R" word..." He started. "...don't worry, it's been been years since we found that den of rattlers on the property."
Drums and Rattles
Once inside, I scared all the snakes away with the deer leg rattle. Don and I drummed and lit the smudge stick, but I could only handle the aroma of smoky herbs for so long. We ended up playing a spontaneous "Name that Tune by Its Rhythm" game with the drum.
Being campers, it was hard not to believe we had done the unthinkable and had just started up a fire in our tent. I had to remind myself that tipis were designed this way long ago. We stepped out to watch the buffalo dance, but the moon was a little too bright and our fire, a little too tame.
I'm not sure I've ever gone to bed, looking at a half moon through the top of a tipi opening, while a fire crackled nearby. Yep, I'm sure that's the only time.
I expected to toss and turn all night, but it got into the thirties and I slept inside my down bag and did not wake with the sun. We rose after 8 and headed off on a hike.
Our host had mentioned the nearby hiking loop. He said there would be surprises, but I sort of imagined surprises of nature, like a fallen tree or a creek. I found myself chuckling with each discovery and pushing ahead to see what silly thing was next! A display of old bowling balls... a cement walk with embedded treasures!
There was a display of Scrabble letters spelling, ENJOY! And numerous goodies hanging from trees!
We slept in a real tipi, on the ground, with a fire burning nearby! That is plenty memorable! I've seen other tipi "hotels" that provide beds and more luxury, but I'm glad we had the more authentic experience!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!