There’s a for sale sign on a big ol rusty tractor
you can’t miss it it’s the first thing that you’ll see
and just up the road a pale blue water tower
with I love jenny painted in bright green
and that’s my uncle ray there by the courthouse
he’ll be lowering the flag when the sun goes down
this is my town.
— Montgomery Gentry
Those who have been following our blog may have put two and two together to notice that we, as RV’ers, we are more likely to park in America’s small towns; out of the way of big cities. While the cities boast so many cool and cultural things to do and see, small town America is where our Nation forms and stands. Through the past two years, we’ve stayed in Taylorsville, Kentucky…Gering, Nebraska…Penrose, Colorado…and Castroville, Texas. These small towns that pepper the U.S. map are what weave our country joining our cities together to form the greatest nation in the world.
Let’s talk about our most recent ‘home away from home’ that we will add to our list of ‘My Towns’. This small municipality of a little over 3000 populace, Castroville, Texas, is twenty miles west of San Antonio; a mere 30 minute drive to San Antonio’s boasted Riverwalk. A little about this wonderful small town in the Lone Star State.
Castroville is a historic little town with a rich cultural heritage nestled in the Medina River Valley just 15 miles west of San Antonio. It is known as “The Little Alsace of Texas” because of its origins. The town was founded in 1844 by Henri Castro, for whom the town is named. The first European emigrant settlers in this area were mostly Catholic farmers from Alsace, a region of France, brought over to fulfill Castro’s contract to colonize vacant Texas Land. Calling themselves Alsatians, they were mostly of German decent speaking a dialect of German and French.
The first town colonized on the Medina River and west of San Antonio, Castroville and its fertile Texas land and invigorating climate was seen as having endless possibilities to the Europeans. Land in Europe was expensive and hard to come by and usually only promised to the first born son. Henri Castro and his “Free Texas Land” were a dream to these settlers.
The first settlers set sail for the promised land on November 4, 1843. The voyage lasted 66 days and they experienced hardships such as no laundry, no bath, cramped quarters and a cold climate. They landed in the port of Galveston on January 9, 1844 only to find out that they still must travel 200 miles inland to find their resting place. They began their long trek down the Spanish trail to San Antonio. They arrived in San Antonio and waited for their leader, Henri Castro. On September 1, 1844, Castro and 27 of the 700 original colonists started their journey to the site now known as Castroville.
Unfortunately, most don’t appreciate these small towns; often labeling them as ‘fly overs’. Kids want to emphatically leave after high school and visitors complain ‘there’s nothing there’ or they just pass through giving no thought to these map dot gems. However, there’s nothing further than the truth once you get out of your cars (or RV’s) and walk the towns. We’ve been anchored for the winter in Castroville for about four months; the longest we’ve been in one place since our leaving Taylorsville, Kentucky. To be quite honest, we got so wrapped up in enjoying San Antonio and other notable places, that we never gave little Castroville a second thought…until now.
During our four month stay, occasional Sunday mornings, we’d get a tad dressed up and drive a mile and a half over to the quaint little Le Chat Noir Eatery for brunch. Recently, we went for a Friday lunch which was simply outstanding. We try to support local restaurants and businesses so we were so thrilled we gave this one a try. Sort of hidden in the town itself, off the beaten path (Highway 90), this is one not to miss! Take it from us, if you’re out this way, make it a point to stop for vittles at this old French inspired, quiet cafe’ for later-week lunch or brunch on Sundays. (UPDATE: Sadly, this restaurant is no longer in business.)
As we walked the town, we noticed the aging buildings. We’ve learned that the town of Castroville boasts having over 100 buildings over 150 years old that continue to stand the test of time.
We browsed antique stores…
and several of the little shops, including Castroville Pottery on Fiorella Street where we spent about a half hour chatting about our adventures with Eveylyn…and she intensely listened while we admired their handcrafted pottery. It breaks my heart that we can’t buy wares like this as in our RV we must be compliant with space and weight, but nonetheless, it was still nice to pick up the pieces and oogle over their beauty and craftsmanship. We appreciate good handcrafts and art…and the story told.
We also learned about some of the historic churches, one of which….
After walking through a couple of blocks, we decided to walk over to the Saturday Farmer’s Market which we emphatically love love love! We picked up two dozen eggs and local honey…
We purchased our greens from this farmer who also spent a little time educating us on nutritional value of some of greens we picked out…
…and then went inside the cool little gourmet shop Taste Elevated where while I chatted with Lori Krieger (owner) telling me everything they offer from food, gift baskets and even cooking classes in their ‘creation center’, Dan was sampling all the cheeses, chutneys, pestos and crackers.
We even purchased some after he brought them to me with his mouth full, muttering, ‘buy these’. So sorry we missed their wine tasting they have on Saturdays but I think we’ll be back. We will have to keep this one in mind, stocking up before leaving and definitely spreading the word about this friendly gourmet go-to. Who can beat friendly with delicious?
All the while, enjoying this small town that could very well be the town we all come from, we were parked at Alsation RV Resort & Golf Course. Please check back later for our Review in our Campground, Park and Resort Reviews section.
So, now you see why we chose to go ‘the unbeaten path’ because that’s where America’s hidden treasures are; the people, the history and the beauty of the country that surrounds.