My travel planning often sends clients (and myself!) to distant European locations: England, Ireland, France, Italy. Other times they head west to the sunny beaches of Hawaii, or the exotic Far East.

As exciting as these experiences are, my most recent travels took me to my home state of Texas. While growing up in Dallas, our family owned a ranch in the Hill Country (Kerrville) where we visited multiple times a year, and where my father took groups to hunt each fall. A year ago, I located the current ranch owners and asked if my three siblings and I could take our father on a weekend trip to re-visit the ranch we had not seen since 1976. The generous new owner, Al W., asked if we would like to stay AT the ranch, in our old house (140~ years old). Such an unexpected treat! “YESSIR!”

The night before our trek, my siblings, father and I congregated in West Texas where our mother graciously hosted a family dinner for us and our father (divorced in 1979, both remarried). An unexpected last minute invitation was extended to Mom and 10 hours later, parents and four kids (we lost my older brother in 1983) were road tripping for the first time in 40 years. Thankfully we were spared traveling in the green station wagon that made the last trek 😂.

No trip to Texas would be complete without an excess of BBQ and we enjoyed a meal at Bill’s BBQ in Kerrville. A last minute message to a Dallas neighbor from the 60-70’s, and soon after, in burst a smiling face with hugs all around.

An hour later, our family stepped inside “our” ranch house and we were each transported back to the simpler days of our youth. The dining room had surely been much larger 40 years ago. A shower had been installed over the tub where our mother hand washed hundreds of diapers, central heat and air added, a new stove, but this was most definitely still our beloved ranch where many of our favorite childhood memories were created.

As kids, we were allowed to have adventures, explore hidden creeks and drink the best tasting water in the world, shoot guns, collect Apache arrowheads left behind by the original ranch owners, catch armadillos, fish under 100~ year old Cypress trees, ride our propane tank ‘horse’, skinny dip in snake-infested waters, feed deer, play with crawdads, pick pecans and apples from the trees our dad planted. We learned where meat came from and ate fresh venison, elk, catfish, bass. We named live guinea hens, only to learn that they would be our dinner that night (and watched the whole process). We got to grow up in the glorious days before technology took over and chained the world to electronics.

Our ranch arrival day gave time to explore, BBQ ribeye steaks to a perfect medium rare, eat family-recipe brownies, share stories until late in the evening, and laugh until we had tears streaming down our cheeks. We all dearly love our ‘grown up families’, but there is something about the original family unit and old memories that nobody else understands.

The original Hudgins gang ❤️

Me and my dad in front of the dam

Me in front of one of the ancient Cypress trees

Doe in a field near the house

Texas fire pit

I will continue sending clients to marvel at the Crown Jewels and cross Abbey Road in London, cruise to Alaska, and take sushi-making classes in Tokyo, but for me, this trip is going down in the books as one of my own personal favorite travel adventures.

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