March 3-11, 2001: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
January 19-21, 2001: A Trip to San Antonio
Return to the Index for 2001


 

February 9-11, 2001
Visiting Frank and Joe in Leakey, TX


 

Fred and Frank have been talking about our making another visit down to their house in the Texas Hill Country, and we've planned to down for the weekend of February 10-11. We'll arrive at Frank and Joe's new house very late on Friday, and spend the day with them on Saturday. Prudence and Ron, who need to be in San Antonio on Saturday to oversee their renovations, will join us on Sunday.

 

Getting to Frank and Joe's House in Leakey


F&J live just north of Leakey, Texas. To get there from Dallas, we begin by following our familiar route to Austin and San Antonio. We leave Dallas on I-35 south, and take that all the way to Austin (about 200 miles).

At Austin, we head west on US 290 towards Johnson City. We drive through that town and eventually arrive in Fredericksburg, Texas, which is about 70 miles from Austin. There, we head south for a short ways on Texas Highway 16 about 15 miles to come to Interstate 10 and Kerrville. after a fifteen-mile run west on I-10, we head west on Texas Highway 41.

After another fifteen miles or so, this brings to US Highway 83, where we head south to Leakey. Leakey is about twenty miles from that last turn. So the whole trip is something over 300 miles.

Once you get to the north side of Leakey, you cross what looks like a dry streambed. The stream is actually a branch of the Frio River, often called the "Dry Frio" because it only has water in it during the short rainy season in the Hill Country or when there have been sufficient thunderstorm rains upstream. The main part of the Frio River is south and east of Leakey. But soon after you cross this streambed, there is a small airstrip on your right and a road that heads back north. It is Ranch Road 336.

Ranch Road 336 heads north paralleling the Dry Frio, and we take that for about two miles until we see Bonner Road ahead of us to the right. Bonner Road is named for Joe Wells' mother's family. They own the land from a hundred feet or so south of Bonner Road a good ways north into Real County- some 1600 acres if I remember correctly.

Bonner Road goes east, and as soon as we turn onto it we can see the green roof of the new house that Frank and Joe have just recently completed, partway up the hillside on the other side of the Dry Frio.


We cross this dry branch of the Frio on a low-water crossing (which is basically just a low, flat concrete dam with culverts under it. When the water is low or non-existent, it is dry pavement, but when the water is high, it just flows over the top of the concrete, which is high enough so that 99.5% of the time a vehicle can make it across. There are the occasional times when the water is so high that residents like Frank and Joe who live up on the mountainside have to wait until the water recedes.

Up the other side of the river bottom, the road climbs steeply about halfway up the high hill. Right along the streambed there is a cliff that is perhaps 50 feet high, then the land levels out for a ways until it begins to climb steeply again to the top of the hill. Along this level area, two or three houses have been built, and Frank and Joe's is one of them. Bonner Road splits and goes north and south along this fairly level area.

All the houses up here have great views to the west, south and north, since they all look out across the valley cut by the Frio's branch. I've marked where Frank and Joe are on the aerial view. The quality of this view isn't very good, as the satellite views and air surveys out here in the boondocks aren't the same excellent resolution as they are in big cities and populated areas. But of course you'll get a better look at their property through the pictures on this page.

 

Frank and Joe's House

Frank and Joe just recently completed the construction of their new house up here on the hillside, and on Saturday they gave us a tour.


The house is basically a long rectangle, with the long axis going generally north-south. Frank and Joe chose this orientation because to the north, there is not much but the hillside to look at; most of the views are to the other three directions. So the north side of the house has no windows save for the two small high windows high on either side of the living room fireplace.

Inside, on the first floor, there is a large living room with fireplace, with the fireplace against the north wall. The main entry is via the porch on the east side of the house, and there are windows between this porch and the living room. There is a corresponding porch and door on the west side of the living room, making the house symmetrical. Standing near the fireplace and looking south, you can see the dining area and the stairs to the second floor. In that last picture, you can see that there are hallways on each side of the house leading south. The kitchen alcove is on the east side of the house near the front door.

Frank and Joe gave me permission to walk down the east hall. I passed a laundry room, side entrance, pantry and bath and then came to the master bedroom. Frank and Joe put the master on the south end of the house, and added windows that look in all three directions; the ones that look south are situated in a bay window. This means that the bedroom gets a lot of light. At the south end of the house, there are porches that match those on the north end; again making the house look symmetrical from the outside. The guys need to devise a way to shade those porches from the relentless summer sun and from the weather, and they accomplished this by having peak roof slope down past the east and west walls, shading all four of the porches. This means that the porches only get direct sun very early in the morning and very late in the afternoon; the rest of the time they are in shade. You can see this more clearly in my view of the southeast corner of the house.


Back inside and returning to the living room, you can walk over to the beginning of the stairs (where there is a powder room). When you climb those stairs, you are on a loft overlooking the living room. This loft area is a reading and lounging area, and there is a full bath at one side of it in the center of the house. Walking south, I turned around to get a view of the entire loft area, and you can see that view here.

Behind me as I took that last picture was the double door into the guest room. One wonderful feature of the guest room is the balcony at the south end of the house, reached via a set of French doors. There are high dormer windows on the east side of the room to allow some morning sun in, but there are no corresponding west-facing windows, which cuts down on summer heating.

There is not much around the house yet, but with the green thumbs that both Joe and Frank have, I know it won't be long before they've landscaped a garden.

 

An Early Afternoon Outing

Prudence and Ron arrived in mid-morning on Sunday, and Frank and Joe prepared breakfast for all of us.


Joe takes care of his family ranch, which is nearby, and he took us out with him to put out some hay for some of the livestock that are in a pasture nearby. We all piled into their truck and went for the ride.

After the livestock had been fed, I got a good picture of everyone else standing by the truck and watching them eat, and you can have a look at that picture here. Frank and Joe drove us around for a while so we could see more of the Hill Country, and then we returned to the house. They took us out to the edge of the cliff that is about a hundred feet from the south end of their house, and Frank and I stood at the edge atop some of the rock columns that form the cliff. Frank and Joe were showing us where their well was (down at the base of the cliff near the streambed. A pump brings the water up to the house, of course. Frank and Joe have a septic system, but because the area is so rocky, it is a bit smaller than most others for this size house, so they try to minimize the demands they place on it.

 

A Walk in the Frio River Canyon

Ron and Prudence headed back to San Antonio in mid-afternoon, and we also needed to be on our way by late in the afternoon. Frank and Joe wanted us to see the Frio River canyon which lies north of US 83, about ten miles north of Leakey. Since this was our way home, we followed Frank and Joe up there. Joe knew the owners of the land (there is a youth camp there), so we were OK driving along the private road that leads to it.

The canyon is not very deep, but it is quite pretty, and we spent some time walking along the riverbank. I have put clickable thumbnails below for some of the pictures we took along our walk:

We had a nice visit, and it was good to see the new house that they've been telling us about as it was being built. And it was good to see Ron and Prudence as well.

We left for home late on Sunday afternoon, hoping to be home near midnight, since tomorrow is a work day for both of us. Getting home was just a repeat of our drive down, and we did indeed reach home about midnight, after stopping for dinner in Austin.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.


March 3-11, 2001: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
January 19-21, 2001: A Trip to San Antonio
Return to the Index for 2001