Salado, Texas (pronounced Sah-Lay-Doe) is a quaint little community on I-35, about 50 miles north of Austin. It is bisected by Salado Creek that, before a recent devastating flood, formed a bucolic setting for dozens of shops selling artsy-crafty things at mostly hefty markups. The flood didn’t wash away any of the structures, but the creek bottom, once a wide grassy area perfect for picnics, is now uninvitingly strewn with pebbles and rocks. I don’t know if it will ever recover.
The blemished creek bottom didn’t seem to bother the folks who, like us, were participating in the Salado Christmas Stroll, an event held on the first two weekends in December of each year. The Stroll, of course, is sponsored and promoted by the merchants and community leaders to attract shoppers to the stores and restaurants. It is a very popular event, especially among the ladies. Luckier husbands may have been allowed to spend their time at the Mill Creek golf course, a golfing venue of some significance, I’m told. Since I’m not a golfer, I’ll have to rely on others’ judgment about a Robert Trent Jones golf course; I have no clue who he is—or was. Those who take the stroll encounter extra vendors of all kinds and multiple performances by carolers and other musicians.
Perhaps most well-known in Salado is the Stagecoach Inn, built in 1861 as a stopover for stagecoach passengers. Expanded many times, the inn and restaurant have had a loyal following, enjoying home cooking served by waitresses who recite the menu by memory at each table. The place was looking a little tired on this visit, however. Perhaps the bad economy has caused some maintenance to be deferred.
Several of our friends, Marty and Cathy, Jim and Terri and Bubba and LouAnn had decided to accompany us on this little odyssey from the DFW area, and we all had a good time. Marty and Cathy drove down for the day, and Jim and Terri stayed overnight at a hotel. Bubba and LouAnn brought their fifth wheel to keep Homer company. We parked at the Cedar Ridge COE campground at Lake Belton, one of our favorites. We love this quiet and beautiful park, right on the waterfront at Lake Belton. It’s fun to watch the many deer that wander around; they’re quite tame, obviously since no hunting is allowed in the park.
Bubba strings kitschy lights at the campground. Very risky behavior.
Homer (left) and Bubba’s coach
Waterfront spot at Cedar Ridge COE Campground
Mercifully, Sandy didn’t buy anything in Salado, and my job evolved into shuttling our friends back an forth from one shopping area to another along the main drag. Jim and Terri found a beautiful framed print that will look great in their new home. We all had a good time, however, with lots of laughing and carrying on.