“Howdy folks,” said John as he entered the barn of Texas Life Ranch. Twenty of us just smiled and looked at him, not knowing what to answer.
“You’re supposed to say howdy back,” he informed us.
“Howdy,” everyone said in unison. This pleased John Elick, who runs the 1,800-acre property with his wife Taunia, an hour west of Houston.
The Texas Life Ranch offers a perfect setting to experience typical cowboy life under wide-open sky and herds of contented longhorn cattle and horses. Lawyers Taunia and John Elick have operated the ranch for 12 years, restoring historic houses that date back to the 1850s. Each house has its own unique style and is furnished with Texas antiques, offering privacy and magnificent views of rolling hills.
This place is far from hustle bustle of city life. Residents can enjoy observing cows, horses and buffalos. Guests can go on trail rides or watch lasso and riding demonstration by John and his cowhands.
Popular activity on this and other ranches nearby is weddings. These ranches cater for wedding parties. Barbara Segal of Lillian Farms Bed and Breakfast, one of the premier facilities located in historic Washington, Texas, and not far from the town of Brenham, personally gives a friendly welcome to visitors. The property’s ballroom and banquet hall has been a favourite setting of several hundreds of couples who have had a memorable wedding experience. Ms. Segal and her Lillian Farm and B&B have won several business awards for their dedication and commitment to the community.
Other interesting places to visit in Washington County, Texas, apart from Brenham, are Chappell Hill, Independence, Washington and Burton. The area is full of historic sites, the chief among them being Washington-on-the-Brazos, considered to be the birthplace of Texas. It was here, in an unfinished frame building, on March 1, 1836, most Texans supported independence from Mexico and the formation of a new republic was declared.
Apart from learning ancient history, Texas also provides lessons in modern history when you visit George Bush Library. The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is a research institution and providing academic environment for the preservation, research and exhibit of official records, personal papers and memorabilia from the life and career of George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States. Visitors can view precise replicas of President Bush's Oval Office, Camp David office and White House Situation Room. I was personally thrilled to sit in the presidential chair in the Oval Office, pretending to use the hotline to declare war while having my picture taken.
On the east central part of Washington County is a city with 15,716 residents. Brenham is the home of “the best ice cream in the country,” the Blue Bell Creameries, established in 1907. “The creamery is named after Texan flower, bluebell, which blooms during the hot months—just like the ice cream business,” explained Blue Bell PR specialist Jenny Van Dorf. Blue Bell ice cream is available in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Florida and parts of Arkansa, New Mexico, Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Colorado and Wyoming. Blue Bell is the third best-selling ice cream brand in the United States, employing 800 people in Brenham and 3,500 employees company-wide.
There’s more to Brenham that the Blue Bell Creameries, say local folks of Brenham. The town of Brenham is the seat of the County of Washington and its main street offers a boutique Ant Street Inn, quaint restaurants, art galleries, antique stores and 40 different stores. A walk on main street Brenham gives you a good feeling of small town America.