Where the water meets the land as Lake Austin spills into the link in the chain of what is called the Highland Lakes lies Lake Travis, my new home. A simple twist of fate and a brief lapse in reasoning has brought me and my husband to two acres with horse stalls, a barn and a strange dwelling that could be called my new house in Hudson Bend. Finding out about our mindless decision, my sister in law sent best wishes and dubbed our adopted locale “Hooterville.”
You will know you are close to Hudson Bend Road when you come upon the drive thru liquor store sitting on the hill to your left on Highway 620. If you are so inclined to BYOB then, by all means, you need to stop here first because it is part of the field trip. As you inch your car into the big red barn you might be surprised to see lots of fine wine and even a sommelier at the ready right at your car window to help you pick the perfect bottle. Not to mention the liquor, lots of it. Just keep your engine running, grab a pint and be on your way. When you pull out of the driveway you will come to a light that is Hudson Bend Road. This will lead you into the deceptively big penninsula, where intercepting roads will take you up hills, down to bogs, and land you right on the lake. Hudson Bend Road has no esplanade, or cute landscaping. Instead, you drive by boat yards, RV parks, see the occasional horse trotting down the street or get squeezed by the chopper trying to pass you. Hudson Bend Grocery will be on your right as you continue along. This landmark business sites cattycorner from the strip mall that is home to Frog’s pool hall and, yes, another liquor store. It is legendary as the site of a broad daylight armed robbery a few months ago. No one was ever arrested.
Soon you’ll come to a fork in the road where a wrong turn (or right turn, depending on your perspective) will take you to Carlos and Charlies” This, I think, is where my sister-in-law came up with the term “Hooterville.” A trip to this lakeside drinkery (yes, they have food, but that is simply not the point) will confirm that the name is fitting and appropriate. There is a dress code at CNC and it is “Don’t.” Bathing suits, flip flops, no flops, sun burns, sunglasses-that is the demanding fashion expectation one must live up as a patron of this establishment. As backyard neighbors, though, they could be worse. Yes, we constantly have people turn around in our driveway when they realize they missed their turn. But on Biker Fridays you can hear a pretty decent band from my back porch and on the third of July we enjoy their knock your socks off fireworks from my back yard.
A love of music does indeed help living out here as it is as common as a propane grill to have a live band in your backyard. Carlos ‘n Charlie’s (we call it CNC) is only the more famous venue. It appears that everyone who is anyone in the Bend will arrange microphones, drum sets and even fireworks for their gatherings. Many nights, any night, any time, other nearby residents practice their licks fully amplified. If you mind you should move.
Gone from my beautiful home with the circular drive on a lovely street in a good neighborhood for months now my consciousness is shifting to the charm of my existing surroundings. No street lights, curbs, and limited limits are just a few of the non-amenities. One morning, savoring a slow, rich sunrise with a cup of coffee in the early darkness, a subtle challenge to even consider setting any suburban boundaries came with the sounds of Patsy Cline as her crooning floated, not so softly, from my neighbor’s outdoors speakers. “We do as we please” was the translation for “I go walking after midnight.”
There is no one to call to complain about packs of dogs cruising by. No homeowners association to notify if your neighbor junks his yard or foils his windows. If one does not like the squawking of a peacock or the crowing of a rooster, one should not consider this home. “Not cookiecutter” as one of my neighbors put it. No, more like drop biscuits. All of us with something in common or we wouldn’t be here.
I’m starting to feel the freedom out here as I’ve learned that the road goes both ways here in the county. I am free to have two 1,000 pound pets in my backyard and free to pile their waste into mountainous sculpture. I am free to have my own live band, set off my own fireworks or grow my native grasses without worrying that my neighbors will form a posse.
Out here on my plot of the bend the sky is big, the stars are bright and the air smells of everything “country.” The road runner wanders and the dogs roam and we do as we please in Hooterville.