One unexpected pleasure in moving to a new state and rebuilding my life from the ground up, has been a desire to see and experience as much as I can while on this earth. I fell in love with Texas on the first trip I made to Austin fifteen years ago, and deciding to move here was a decision based on asking myself the simple question: If you could live in any place you’ve visited, the one where you feel most at home, where would that be? Texas.
Weekend by weekend, my adorable mutt Tiger and I have been exploring more of the surrounding towns and learning how incredibly lucky we are to live in such a beautiful “destination” state. For example, I had no idea until moving here that Texas is the 5th largest wine producing state and has been named “the 10 best wine travel destinations in the world” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
One of my favorite trips to date has been to check out the Cave Without a Name in Boerne, TX. About 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, Boerne is a great weekend destination for folks looking for something a little off the beaten path. It’s about a three and a half hour drive from Houston, but you can pack in enough in one trip to make it worth the drive.
If you’re interested in wine, you should definitely check out Sister Creek Vineyards, about 15 minutes north of Boerne, in neighboring picturesque Sisterdale. Sister Creek is a small on-site operation that offers you a little slice of history, since the winery is located in a restored 1885 cotton gin. Leashed pets (under 25 lbs) are allowed inside the tasting room (not the winery itself), so Tiger was allowed to drink as much Muscat Canelli Reserve as he wanted (that’s a joke; he would never drink a wine so sweet).
If you’re staying overnight, I highly recommend booking yourself a cabin at the Home Away From Home Ranch B&B. For those looking for some peaceful tranquility in nature, you will love the individual cabins nestled in the woods, each unique and idyllic. The Ranch is pet friendly, and home to a host of farm animals, horses, and goats. Tiger loved playing in the woods with the resident pair of ranch dogs. He also got to meet a goat named Babe and he touched noses with a horse who came to my window (warning: the photos below may be TOO cute).
The Cave Without a Name is located about 11 miles northeast of Boerne, in the Texas Hill Country. It’s a living cave, which means it is still active; the formations are still growing, and it’s home to some of the most beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, and cave drapery I’ve ever seen. Used by moonshine bootleggers in the 1920’s, the Cave Without a Name was rediscovered by three children in 1935. The owner of the land opened it up for tours in 1939 and a young boy who described it as “too beautiful to have a name” won a statewide contest to name it. The Cave is a National Natural Landmark. They offer hour-long tours of six formation rooms at very reasonable prices.
On the night I visited the Cave Without a Name, they were holding a music concert in the Queen’s Throne Room with an eclectic and electric group of musicians, singers, and dancers. Imagine descending 80 feet underground, where the temperature is 66 degrees year round, where cell phones have no dominion, to immerse yourself in the most heavenly music.
“Suspended in the sound, deep underground, it was a transcendent meditative experience.”
At one point during the concert, they turned off the lights, plunging us all into absolute darkness. I felt Tiger wake up from where he’d been slumbering in my lap, to peer over my knees into the pitch black void. I wondered if, to a dog, this would be akin to sudden blindness — to open your eyes and see nothing! A cacophony of sounds grew around us— didgeridoo, cello, Tibetan bowls — suddenly behind me a baritone voice and ethereal flute. We were enveloped by the blackness and the music. We were not our minds, not our bodies, but something more eternal, suspended in the sound deep underground. It was a transcendent, meditative experience.