Down Home Hospitality

I would never have found it without Google Maps. But once I read its history, I knew where we’d be having breakfast that morning. Having gotten an early start, we relished the low morning sun that was already warming the day. It was easy to appreciate our constant companions, the wildflowers, and take in the rural farms. Arriving in Dew, an unincorporated community that is home to 70 people, we found little more than a welcome sign. But I knew that Dad’s Place was just a touch further along the local road.

“Dad” is Monte Atchley, a lifelong resident of Dew. Moving his grandparents’ home place to this spot and renovating in keeping with its original rustic feel, he opened Dad’s Place just last year. It’s a family affair, involving his wife and children. His goal was to provide a country store and cafe that catered to the locals. Sure enough, when we came through the door four regulars were hanging out on the cafe stools while Monte tended the grill. They recognized us as outsiders instantly (that wasn’t hard!) and conversation flowed swiftly and easily. Friendly hardly begins to describe it.

I devoured the tender and filling pancakes I ordered – the best yet. “He makes his own batter,” the waitress divulged. I was stoked and ready to cycle again, yet reluctant to leave, savoring the experience. The community of Dew is lucky to have Dad’s Place – and so were we.

Molly at Dad's Place

Molly and Rich with Dad at Dad's PlaceRich in front of Dad’s Place

Our destination for the day was Fisherman’s Point, a large chunk of land on Richland-Chambers Reservoir. The combination of cabins, RV sites and camping were clearly secondary to the activity happening at the dock and boat launch. Fishing was the focus here. We lingered in the shade of the office after checking in, cooling off with cold drinks and getting the lay of the land from Colleen who ran the place. “See those picnic tables over there, across the inlet? Take your pick, and pitch your tent anywhere you like.” It was that kind of place. An institution.

Rich at Fisherman’s Point office

The sun was hot, but in the shade of the huge trees there was just enough breeze to be very comfortable. In fact, this was the first day in almost three weeks that we did not have a strong wind! The calm lake was perfect evidence. I followed Rich’s example and folded my sleep mat into a chair leaning against a tree. It made a delightful spot for reading. I’ll take the outdoors any day over a dreary motel room.

Molly and tent Fisherman’s PointFisherman’s Point

Birds cackled, screamed and sang all night long. Fish in the inlet thrashed and splashed. Some adventurous fishermen fired up their launch in the wee hours of the morning. I had the odd feeling that when I emerged from the tent I’d find myself in the tropics. But no, dawn delivered me right back out into that bastion of Texas outdoorsmanship.  We may not have fished, but they accepted us all the same.

Smooth fast roads and continued light winds delivered us to Corsicana by late morning. Passing down the main street in the historic downtown we noticed a boisterous gathering in a pocket park. Slowing down next to the street-side picnic tables, we were immediately invited to join the throng. Free hot dogs, chips and soft drinks were on offer. Live music emanated from the park, and and a clown sat at the table next to ours. It was all part of the lead up to Derrick Days, the community festival happening over the weekend.

Molly Rich at Derrick Days 1Molly Rich at Derrick Days 2

Corsicana has a colorful history tied to oil. It became Texas’ first oil boom town after oil was accidentally discovered in 1894 when water prospectors were drilling an artesian well to expand the city’s water supply. Soon oil wells sprang up all over the city, and Corsicana became the site if the first commercial oil field in Texas. Wealth flooded the city, and left behind a collection of big mansions in what is now known as the Carriage District.

The annual festival still pays tribute to those oil days. Our new found friends informed us there would be more food and music that evening. We promised we’d be back. We can never get enough of that down home hospitality.

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