Friday, January 20, 2017

Riding around Rio Vista

Nolan River
If you are an old-time Texan you know the name of this town is Rye-o Vista not Ree-o Vista! It’s not unusual that Texans pronounce the names of town a little differently than what one would expect, although during some trips I have believed that Waco (Wandering in Waco) should be pronounced Wacko. But I digress…It’s time for the Fort Worth Stock Show and the weather is always iffy, so it didn’t disappoint us when it was a rainy and nasty day. Our drive took us out through what is still cattle and ranch country. It was in this area that cattle were raised to feed the soldiers in both the Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War. The beef was then shipped by rail lines to both sides. The tiny town of Rio Vista hasn’t changed much since then, and there are still only about 650 people in residence.

Rio Vista was used as a camping spot in about 1800 when Phillip Nolan began exploring near the Brazos River. This was not a good choice since the Anadarco tribe called this area
Restored Ranch House
home and promptly attacked the group. Forty years later peace had been established and the first settlers were granted a tract of land on Trout Creek, a tributary of the Nolan River. In 1849, Henry Briden and his wife, Lucinda, built the first house in Johnson County. By 1881 two little communities were known as Grange Hall and Kimbell, but with the coming of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway a few miles away, Rio Vista became the official town site. By 1900 the town had churches, schools, stores, a cotton gin, a livery stable, and a few other services; soon after came a water well,  the post office, and telephone lines. Although fire destroyed the business part of town, the land surrounding the railroad tracks is still used for farming, as is are the ranches to the west that still picturesquely support the raising of cows and horses.

Three Carrots

As you might expect from such a location, the folks we met are red-neck with a capital R. In Roughnecks (103 East Depot Street, Rio Vista, TX 76093, 817-373-3123), the local bar and grill, we met men either dressed in jeans, cowboy boots, and Stetsons, or in gimme hats, overalls, and gum-boots. A couple of them were drinking their lunch, but the majority were downing a few bottles of beer as a prelude to burgers. Surprisingly, no one was smoking until just before we got up to leave so we weren’t engulfed in clouds of smoke while trying to eat. I’m guessing that on Friday night the smoke-free atmosphere disappears; cigar smoking is not allowed and you do have to ask for an ashtray. Some sort of testosterone
Left T to B: Menu, Junior cheese burger, decorations
Right T to B: Dud's Filthy Pig, Super Wimpy Burger
laden program was on the television above the bar, but the sound was off and the music was pretty good rock and roll. All along the walls were stuffed heads of game animals, real and imaginary, as well as signs from nearby small towns, tractor companies and other colorful metal plaques. Our waitress was wearing a Cowboy football jersey as a dress; she was pleasant and efficient. She told us that the building had been a drugstore in the 1800s, then was re-purposed as a mercantile, and finally became a bar and grill in the 1980s. While the kitchen was slow, the food was good. We took one look at the hand-cut potatoes and expected limp and greasy but were pleasantly surprised that they  were neither. Vince had Dud’s Filthy Pig that is a large sandwich of hot links, ham, bacon, jalapenos, and pepper jack cheese served on a hamburger bun with lettuce, tomato and onion. It was so good he ate the whole thing. Dave had a Super Wimpy Burger with cheese, bacon, onion, and tomato. The beef is shaped by hand, then cooked and put on a toasted bun. Dave said his was very good. Unfortunately they were out of avocado or I’d have tried one of their sandwiches. Instead, I had a Junior Cheese Burger with lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes; I have no idea why they called it junior. Again, the beef was hand formed, accompanied by fresh vegetables and a nicely toasted bun. I was very pleased with my meal but disappointed that there is smoking allowed. Prices were pretty good, particularly for what we were served. (For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.)

Top: Drugstore circa 1800
Bottom: China Beach Bar with Jeep
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