Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hillcrest Inn, Kerrville, Texas

There’s no place like home, but some places can come close.

Pat and I have been regular guests at the Hillcrest for about 20 years. We first came here when Pat’s grandmother lived in Kerrville and his uncle lived just outside of town. Now, his grandmother is dead, and his uncle moved to San Antonio, but Kerrville is a good stop on the way to visit his dad in McAllen, so we still stop at the Hillcrest when we go.

The virtue that originally attracted us to the Hillcrest was that it not only allowed pets but welcomed them. Back in the old days, we had a 14-pound orange tabby cat named Shere Khan, and he often traveled with us; he enjoyed riding in the car the way many dogs do. So it was good to find a place that we could take him. It didn’t hurt that the Hillcrest was also affordable, an important criterion when we were starving young college students.

The place isn’t exactly fancy, but it’s clean and the people who run it are great. It’s actually rather similar to one of our other favorite lodgings, the Charles Motel in T or C – in fact, the fixtures in the bathroom and kitchenette here are identical to those in the “new” part of the Charles, late 1960s American Standard (also just like most of the houses in the neighborhood I grew up in). And both places are run by people who know us and are interested in how we’re doing. The people here made a special point of seeing WCMIK and commenting on how much he’s grown, and remembering when he was a baby.

We had supper at another favorite place of ours, the Lakehouse Restaurant, which features southern style cooking and catfish. Lots of catfish. Catfish with grilled chicken. Catfish with fried chicken. Catfish with shrimp. Catfish with pork chops. Catfish with steak. Catfish with chicken-fried steak. Catfish with catfish. OK, if you look at the menu real hard, you can find some things you can order that don’t involve catfish – and, in fact, we all had non-catfish dishes this evening; the sirloin was excellent. But the catfish is so good, you can’t go wrong with that, either. The breading is exactly right, not too thick, but perfectly crispy, and the fish is cooked perfectly, with no raw bits but also not overcooked, moist and flaky and not the least bit rubbery. And if you’re really hungry, a mere eleven bucks gets you all the catfish you can eat (plus shrimp and other stuff as well).

Back at the motel a short while ago, I was writing at the table in the kitchenette by the window, and I heard a sound outside. At first, I thought it was a dog barking, but it was the weirdest dog barking that I’d ever heard. Then I realized it wasn’t a dog – there were wild turkeys out there, just as there are at this time of year at Five O’Clock Somewhere. The Texas Hill Country is swarming with hunters, all complaining about the difficulty of tracking down the elusive game, including turkeys, and here are a bunch of them right out back of the motel room. It’s the same way in Rio Arriba County, and maybe everywhere else where hunting is a major activity: The turkeys, deer, or other game animals are extremely elusive out in the field, but anywhere hunting is not allowed, it’s hard to avoid them. Don’t ever let anybody tell you turkeys are not smart.


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