Last weekend Desha, our friends, Holly and Wendy, and I rode to East Texas for the 18th annual Ladies Escape weekend. I’ve attended LE off and on since 1996, but it was the first time for the others. Originally, women came to LE from several locations, including New Mexico, but attendance has dwindled the last few years. We’ll make an effort to revive it next year.
We took our time getting to Jasper, following the section of the scenic Texas Independence Trail where the Declaration of Independence for the Republic of Texas was written in 1836. It’s been a while since I’ve gone down those roads, and I’d forgotten how rustic and beautiful they are. We definitely need to get over there during bluebonnet season! From there it was a short ride to the East Texas Piney Woods and Sam Houston National Forest.
This picture shows how the sky looked the entire weekend! This, my friends, is why I ride! Yeah, baby!
The historic Belle-Jim Hotel in Jasper has been home to Ladies Escape since before my time. It’s located on the town square and is a community gathering place with many regulars stopping in for breakfast and lunch. David and Pat, owners, always make us feel like family with their warm hospitality and home-cooked meals. The experience is small-town charm at its finest. (No, the City of Jasper is not like it’s portrayed in the movie!)
Mrs. Mamie Patten, a widow, built the hotel in 1910 and named it after her daughters, Belle and Jim. The story is that Jim received her name because the Pattens wanted another son. In fact, Jim was an avid fisherman, golfer, and traveled the globe three times! After Mrs. Patten died, Jim took over hotel operations until her death in 1974.
We found ourselves in good company Saturday morning when Mayor Mike Lout, Retired District Judge Joe Bob Golden, and several other regulars stopped in for breakfast. They talked to us like friends, and I discovered Judge Golden knew our beloved Judge Thurman. There aren’t many old-school judges around anymore, so I sure enjoyed meeting him! Later Pat told me I was sitting in the mayor’s chair, but he was a gentleman and didn’t say anything!
Here is Rosie parked in front of the Belle-Jim with the Jasper County Courthouse as a backdrop.
After breakfast we went on a lovely 200-mile loop through the Angelina National Forest, crossing into Louisiana. There were some fall colors (still early this far south), and the air had that fresh, clean smell of fall. Desha got to count her fifth scooter state, and this was the first motorcycle out-of-state experience for Wendy and Holly. Here they are posing on the east side of the Sabine River.
By the time we got “home” to the Belle-Jim, the Houston group had arrived, and we were treated to one of Pat’s wonderful dinners. The sneaks had put together a surprise birthday party behind my back and got me good, but the carrot cake made everything all right! We had our traditional parlor pajama party, until it got late and every few minutes someone would leave to hit the sack. Never did find out what time Desha and the Houston girls called it quits!
After saying our goodbyes Sunday morning, we headed west to the Yankee Tavern in Carlos for lunch. The Yankee Tavern was voted to have the sixth best burgers in the state in a Ride Texas Reader’s Choice Poll. It definitely is a great biker hangout with a friendly atmosphere and lots of interesting characters, but sixth best burger? Don’t think so!
Warning: Don’t be frightened by the scary bad-ass bikers in the next pic!
We all made it back to Austin safe and sound and have already made plans to attend next year’s Ladies Escape! Hmmmmmm. . . maybe we’ll have to swing through the Big Thicket National Preserve on our way there?
Peace on the Road!