Friday, January 22, 2016

Tempting Temple

On the road to Temple, Texas
We headed to Temple, Texas for a bead retreat, thinking that although it is the home of actor Rip Torn, astronaut Bernard A. Harris, Jr., and football player “Mean" Joe Greene, there was nothing in the area but a railroad trestle, a bridge over the freeway and a few older buildings. What we found was something entirely different. Built as a construction camp for the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway on land purchased from Jonathan E. Moore, it was called Mud Town or Tanglefoot by local residents.  The town was actually named after Santa Fe Railroad official, Bernard Moore Temple, a civil engineer and former surveyor with railroad.

In 1882, Temple wasn’t the prettiest town. Muddy streets made walking through the town of shacks and tents challenging. Since this was a construction area, there were plenty of
Roadside ranch
saloons with the requisite ill-tempered men looking for fights. However, once the town was incorporated, the Temple Academy was organized and a public school was established. At the same time churches, additional shops, banks, two weekly newspapers, an opera house, and a water plant were built. Very shortly the economy shifted focus from the railroad to medicine. Between 1890 and 1905 three hospitals were constructed: The Santa Fe Hospital, King's Daughters Hospital, and Scott and White Hospital. Yet another medical facility opened in 1942, the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. And now the Texas A&M University medical school is associated with the VA and the Scott and White Hospitals. Located near Fort Hood, Temple is a popular place for military folks to shop and to retire. This has led to the growth of shopping opportunities and even more business and industry. However, this area also is home to farms and ranches including an agricultural experiment substation; there was also a site here for the National Resources Conservation Service. Of course, my favorite large business is the Temple Bottling Company, producing Dr Pepper with Imperial Cane sugar.

Our reason for traveling to Temple was to attend the Texas Bead Retreat. At this event we
Top L to R: Ike resting, Lover's Know Bracelet
Center: Pinwheel Earrings
Bottom R: Texas Star
were to learn some new beading techniques, meet more like-minded people, and have a great deal of fun. And that’s exactly what we did. The three classes I took were Pinwheel Earrings by Glynna White, Lover's Knot Bracelet by Chip Burnette, and Texas Star Rivoli Chain Maille by Glenn Webster. In the process we met Ike, an assistance dog in training. He is a 16-month old Bull Mastiff with a pleasing personality and a lot of patience. We were also introduced to Just Because Bead Boutique, owners Glenn and Michelle Webster. Their unique store not only has focus beads, and seed beads but lots of classes in bead weaving, wire working, and silver smithing. Their lovely store, their expertise, and their enthusiasm for their art make me wish I lived closer to Temple!

We went to Temple for the beads, but we did experience a place to stay and a couple of restaurants. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.
Just Because Bead Boutique
Where we stayed:
Three and one-half carrots

L to R: Bedroom, Bathroom
The Hilton Garden Inn (1749 Scott Blvd, Temple, TX 76504, 254-773-0200) was a nice hotel. The room was large with plenty of space for three people. Although there were two trash cans, the size of the room really called for three. The bed was comfortable, as was the sleeper sofa, but the pillows were hard. There were plenty of toiletries, and in fact, the maid gave us probably three times what we really needed. There was a working refrigerator and a coffee pot with plenty of supplies.

What we ate:
Three carrots
Our first meal was in the hotel restaurant, the Great American Grill (1749 Scott Blvd, 
Left: Great American Grill Menu
Right T to B: Chicken club, BLT
Temple, TX 76504, 254-773-0200). Linnea had a chicken club sandwich that was huge, with really crispy French fries. Barb and I split a Baja BLT that had a really tasty spicy mayonnaise; we also had some very good sweet potato fries. We all agreed that the food was good and the service adequate. We used this setting for our breakfast a couple of mornings and although breakfast isn’t included in the price of your room, it’s well worth the price.

All of our meals during the retreat were catered by Hilton. Unfortunately, they were not wonderful. At the two dinners, the salads were limp with some blackened ends on the lettuces. The chicken, mashed potatoes, and the green beans served the first night were okay. The stew the second night had very tough meat, but the carrots and potatoes were okay. Desserts, chocolate mousse and pecan pie, were good. While I would eat in the restaurant, I would not recommend their catering; the food was not worth what was charged.

Left: Elite Menu
Right T to B: Big Fat Frank, Dr Pepper burger
The Elite Circle Café (2132 S Valley Mills Drive, Waco, TX 76706, 254-754-4941) is a historic eatery on the infamous Waco traffic circle. Since neither of my friends had ever experienced this place, we made it our lunch stop on our trip back to the Fort Worth area. Barb and I split a Dr Pepper bacon burger that was very good. Unfortunately our sweet potato fries were frigid, although flavorful. Linnea had the Big Fat Frank that was actually two large sausages covered in chili and onions. She said that it was very good, although entirely too much to eat. However, the giant onion rings looked like they had been frozen and they were not at all crispy. We did have a good waiter.

Wire scorpion sculpted by Glenn Webster

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