Taking care of your Loved One Is What We Do BEST!

It's no secret, most of us would like to stay in our own home as we age. Yet, sometimes our loved ones just need a little extra help to remain comfortable at home. That's where Always Best Care can help....we are dedicated to exceeding expectations....always

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Home Care In Pipe Creek, TX

Home Care Pipe Creek, TX

They say that your golden years are the best years of your life. For most older Americans, that's how it should be - a time to relax, reflect, and live life in a familiar place. After all, senior citizens in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to build a better economy, serve their communities, and raise families.

However, as seniors grow older, completing daily tasks like showering and enjoying activities such as visiting the historic Pipe Creek General Store and Dancehall LLC gets harder without someone by their side. Unfortunately, many older Americans aren't able to rely on their adult children for help. The reality in today's world is that family members do not have the skills or time to dedicate to caring for their parents. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Our in-home care services are for people who prefer to stay at home as they grow older but need ongoing care that family or friends cannot provide. More and more older adults prefer to live far away from long-term, institutionalized facilities and closer to the place where they feel most comfortable - their home. Home care in Pipe Creek, TX is a safe, effective way to give your loved ones the care they need when they need it the most.

 In-Home Care Pipe Creek, TX

location Service Areas

The Always Best Care Difference

Since 1996, Always Best Care has provided non-medical in-home care for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as they get older. We are proud to have helped more than 25,000 seniors maintain higher levels of dignity and respect. We focus on providing seniors with the highest level of in-home care available so that they may live happily and independently.

Unlike some senior care companies, we genuinely want to be included in our clients' lives. We believe that personalized care is always the better option over a "one size fits all" approach. To make sure our senior clients receive the best care possible, we pair them with compassionate caregivers who understand their unique needs. That way, they may provide care accordingly without compromising their wellbeing.

The Always Best Care difference lies in life's little moments - where compassionate care and trustworthy experience come together to help seniors live a fruitful, healthy life. Whether you are an aging adult that can't quite keep up with life's daily tasks or the child of a senior who needs regular in-home services, Always Best Care is here to help.


“I work for this team and it's a wonderful team , great communication and support for our clients, their family members and our caring team of staff .”

Antoinette G.

“Ken and Bonnie are wonderful people to help care for your loved ones. their staff was so caring to my mother and so nice to my family I highly recommend them to take care of your loved ones. I think there ought to be more than just five stars to give them”

Mark A.

“Ken and Bonnie were wonderful to work with. They were able to provide my mother with care and a very short notice. Their staff was some of the most caring people that I've ever met. Not only were they wonderful to my mother but also to my family. I would highly recommend using them.”

Mark A.

“Very professional and welcoming people so I would definitely recommend my friends and family to Always Best Care in Boerne.”

Laurie K.

“The owner is so understanding and supportive of how I want my loved ones cared for. He and his staff actually listen to what I would like done for my parents. Very thoughtful, very professional and very caring. It’s such a relief to have help in caring for my loved ones”

Kristen B.

“ALWAYS BEST CARE is certainly a warm & caring business owned & operated by Ken Thomas. I certainly would recommend them for you or your loved ones excellent care.”

Shirley S.

“Kenneth is kind, patient, experienced and knowledgeable. We are thankful to him for all his efforts and for going above and beyond.”

Chae S.

“For those who are searching for qualified caregivers for their loved ones, contact Ken Thomas at Always Best Care Senior Services. Mr. Thomas provides an authentic and professional guiding hand when discussing available services for your precious senior family members. When it is time for a beloved senior to receive assistance, Mr. Thomas understands the importance of providing trustworthy and quality support.”

Melissa C.

“Ken leads his Always Best Care Senior Services Agency with compassion for his clients and their families. He is a local senior care expert and leader in his community. If you are need of assistance in navigating your local senior care options, then do not hesitate to give Ken a call!”

Kelly B.

“Kenneth is knowledgeable and trustworthy. I can’t recommend him enough. You’re in good hands with Kenneth.”

Chae S.

“I will be forever grateful for the love you showered upon us and my grandmother”

Jill &.

What is Non-Medical Senior Care in Pipe Creek, TX?


Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it is especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.


When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.


The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.


At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one gets older, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

 Senior Care Pipe Creek, TX

Types of Elderly Care in Pipe Creek, TX

To give our senior clients the best care possible, we offer a full spectrum of in-home care services:

Personal Care

Personal Care Services

If your senior loved one has specific care needs, our personal care services are a great choice to consider. Personal care includes the standard caregiving duties associated with companion care and includes help with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Personal care can also help individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Common personal care services include assistance with:

  • Eating
  • Mobility Issues
  • Incontinence
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Respite Care Pipe Creek, TX
Home Helper

Home Helper Services

Sometimes, seniors need helpful reminders to maintain a high quality of life at home. If you or your senior has trouble with everyday tasks like cooking, our home helper services will be very beneficial.

Common home helper care services include assistance with:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Meal Preparation
  • Pet Care
  • Prescription Refills
  • Morning Wake-Up
  • Walking
  • Reading
 Caregivers Pipe Creek, TX
Companionship Services

Companionship Services

Using this kind of care is a fantastic way to make life easier for you or your senior loved one. At Always Best Care, our talented caregivers often fill the role of a companion for seniors. That way, older adults can enjoy their favorite local activities, such as visiting Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area with friends while also receiving the care they need daily or weekly.

Common companionship services include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Conversation
  • Planning Outings
  • Completing Errands
  • Transportation to Community
  • Events and Social Outings
Home Care Pipe Creek, TX
Respite Care

Respite Care Services

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults living in the U.S. provide care to someone over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these caregivers experience stress, exhaustion, and even depression. Our respite care services help family caregivers address urgent obligations, spend time with their children, and enjoy nearby activities. Perhaps more importantly, respite care gives family members time to recharge and regroup. Taking personal time to de-stress reduces the risk of caregiver burnout. So, if you've always wanted to eat at the local the Backyard Bistro or visit Great Western Cattle Trail, don't feel bad. Doing so is great for both you and your loved one.

At the end of the day, our goal is to become a valuable part of your senior's daily routine. That way, we may help give them the highest quality of life possible. We know that staying at home is important for your loved one, and we are here to help make sure that is possible.

If you have been on the fence about non-medical home care, there has never been a better time than now to give your senior the care, assistance, and companionship they deserve.

 In-Home Care Pipe Creek, TX

Benefits of Home Care in Pipe Creek, TX

Always Best Care in-home services are for older adults who prefer to stay at home but need ongoing care that friends and family cannot provide. In-home care is a safe, effective way for seniors to age gracefully in a familiar place and live independent, non-institutionalized lives. The benefits of non-medical home care are numerous. Here are just a few reasons to consider senior care services from Always Best Care:

Always Best Care offers a full array of care options for patients at all levels of health. With our trusted elderly care services, your loved one will receive the level of care necessary for them to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

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Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit - something that is unavailable to many older people today.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a strange nursing home, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:

How much does a senior's home truly mean to them?

A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, then, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old.

With the help of elderly care in Pipe Creek, TX, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors.

Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.

For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like a nursing home. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier and more affordable to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, seniors who age in the comfort of their homes can save thousands of dollars per month.

In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, are often less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

 Elderly Care Pipe Creek, TX

Affordable Care

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

If your loved one qualifies, Medicaid may help reduce in-home care costs. Review your TX's Medicaid program laws and benefits, and make sure your senior's financial and medical needs meet Medicaid eligibility requirements.
Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.
Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.
Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.
Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.
 Senior Care Pipe Creek, TX

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers.

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Pipe Creek, TX understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

Assisted Living Referral Services

While it's true that many seniors prefer to age at home, sometimes in-home care isn't the best fit. For those seniors and their families, choosing an assisted living facility makes more sense. Unfortunately, finding the optimal care facility is easier said than done in today's day and age. That's when Always Best Care's assisted living referral services begin to make a lot of sense.

Assisted living is a form of housing intended for seniors who require varying degrees of medical and personal attention. Accommodations may include single rooms, apartments, or shared living arrangements. Assisted living communities are typically designed to resemble a home-like environment and are physically constructed to encourage the independence of residents.

Respite Care Pipe Creek, TX

At assisted living communities, seniors receive help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They may also benefit from coordination of services with outside healthcare providers, and monitoring of resident activities to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Caregivers who work at assisted living communities can also provide medication administration and personal care services for older adults.

Other services offered within assisted living communities can include some or all of the following:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Recreational Activities
  • Social Outings
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Medication Monitoring
  • Family Visitation
  • Personal Care
 Caregivers Pipe Creek, TX

At Always Best Care, our representatives can match your senior's emotional, physical, and financial needs with viable assisted living communities nearby. Results are based on comparative data, so you can select the best choice for you or your loved one.

Always Best Care works closely with local senior living communities to gain valuable knowledge that we then use to help seniors and their loved ones make informed decisions. This information can include basic care and rent, resident availability, and services provided. Because Always Best Care is compensated by these communities, we provide senior living referral services at no extra cost to you.

Some of the most popular assisted living communities to consider in our area include the following:

  • Assisted living facilities dallas
  • Cedar Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • Fair Oaks Assisted Living
  • Hill Country Assisted Living
  • River Hills Care Center
  • A Place For Mom - Senior Living Advisor Truda Swanson
Home Care Pipe Creek, TX

For many seniors, moving into a senior living community revolves around how and when they want to make a transition to more involved care. Some seniors are more proactive about transitioning to independent living. Others choose to remain home until their care needs or other requirements are satisfied. Remember - our staff is here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about assisted living communities and how we can find a facility that exceeds your expectations.

 In-Home Care Pipe Creek, TX

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Always Best Care Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

A discussion of your needs and how our trained caregivers can offer assistance in the most effective way


A draft of your care plan, which includes highly detailed notes and a framework for the care that you or your senior will receive


Discuss payment options and help coordinate billing with your insurance provider


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

At the end of the day, we only hire the best of the best at Always Best Care. Whether you need home care in Pipe Creek, TX 24-hours a day or only need a respite for a couple of hours, we are here to serve you.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

 Elderly Care Pipe Creek, TX

Latest News in Pipe Creek, TX

Al’s Hideaway Cabin and RV Rentals

Do your research, be patient, and know that it is not just a monetary reward for being a business owner.Jennifer Green and Gordon CookAl’s HideawayJennifer Green and Gordon Cook were perched on a mountain top in the Ozarks enjoying the outdoors when they agreed it was time to turn their lifelong dream of building and running a campground into a reality.The husband-and-wife team found a 20-acre property in Texas Hill Country about 30 miles north of San Antonio and built Al’s Hideaway, a popul...

Do your research, be patient, and know that it is not just a monetary reward for being a business owner.

Jennifer Green and Gordon CookAl’s Hideaway

Jennifer Green and Gordon Cook were perched on a mountain top in the Ozarks enjoying the outdoors when they agreed it was time to turn their lifelong dream of building and running a campground into a reality.

The husband-and-wife team found a 20-acre property in Texas Hill Country about 30 miles north of San Antonio and built Al’s Hideaway, a popular outdoor escape that attracts a mix of new and returning guests seeking relaxation and nature.

Al’s Hideaway is a true family operation. Jennifer’s mother and the couple’s oldest daughter help run the campground year-round, and each summer you’ll find their granddaughters and former foster son working during the busy season. Al’s Hideaway offers a multitude of accommodations, extensive outdoor activities, and a convenient general store, making it an ideal destination for relaxation and adventure.

GOBankingRates asked Jennifer and Gordon about what it’s like to operate a campground, challenges they’ve faced, advice they’d give to prospective business owners and more.

Al’s Hideaway offers log cabins, RV spaces, tipis, and primitive camp site rentals on 20 acres; 17 acres have been left in its natural state for wildlife habitat and hiking. We have a large communal pavilion that has an outdoor kitchen, big screen TV, surround sound speakers, and a swimming pool; in various locations throughout property we have outdoor games, cornhole, disc golf, volleyball, horseshoes, and checkers to name a few.

There is also an on-site store that serves food, drinks, ice, souvenirs and almost anything you may have left or forgotten. Al’s has a relaxing, fun, friendly environment that makes everyone feel welcome.

We wanted to be centrally located to all the attractions! Pipe Creek is 30 minutes from everything in the Hill Country. It does not matter what your interests or hobbies are, the surrounding area has it — theme parks, hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, motorcycle or bicycling riding, museums, wineries, breweries or distilleries, caves and horseback riding or animal encounters.

There are so many people that have downsized and moved out to the Hill Country, and when family comes to visit — or if it’s time for that family reunion, high school graduation or wedding — we offer complete park rentals with all the accommodations to keep families together and entertained.

Inflation has affected our business by increasing all our operational costs from electricity, food, laundry, pool supplies, taxes, insurance, etc. To help offset costs, we have added a credit card convenience fee of 4%, installed electrical meters to charge for excessive electrical use, implemented more dynamic pricing, and invested in more advertising.

The unique challenges of running Al’s Hideaway are standing out above the rest, keeping amenities modern and unique and keeping up with technology along with traveling trends without overpricing the market.

Another challenge is letting people know you are family built, owned, and operated. Because we don’t have big corporation funding backing us, our budget and improvements must be prioritized and budgeted for along with adjusting to rising prices. The challenges have become more difficult because corporations are buying up family campgrounds, which allows for larger marketing and instant improvements to resorts. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have the market saturated with homeowners renting out their homes.

COVID-19 was a unique time for us. In the beginning we had a lot of cancellations and weren’t sure of our future. We did not qualify for any government payroll because we don’t get paid and we reinvest our money into the campground. Then as people adjusted and discovered we had plenty of outdoor space, and cabins and RV spaces allowed guests their individual space, we became very busy. Now, with a recession looming, people are spending less and taking destination vacations.

The most rewarding part of being a business owner is watching our grandchildren enjoy and help with the business that they know will be theirs someday. We also enjoy watching families vacation here knowing it was our dream we turned into a reality. My family gets to meet other families from all over the world and learn about their cultures and stay in contact through social media. There is just something so wonderful about being asked to join another family for dinner just because they want to thank you for giving them a place to relax and enjoy family and friends.

Do your research, be patient, and know that it is not just a monetary reward for being a business owner.

Al’s Hideaway is looking forward to 2023 and beyond; we hope to upgrade the park and add some safari tents and covered wagons to our options of accommodations. We also hope to upgrade our RV spaces to premium sites and add a few more amenities. We look forward to having new guests and seeing our return guests.

2024 will be an exciting year for us because of the total eclipse in April of 2024. We are in the path of totality. If we can get additional accommodation, the revenue source would be out of this world. We are also able to help a local non-profit dog rescue by offering their land for additional viewing space. The future looks positive if we continue to change and adjust with travelers’ demands.

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Al’s Hideaway will be in the path of totality for upcoming solar eclipses in October 2023 and April 2024. They’re opening up 120 acres for viewing and planning to expand lodging options. Part of the added revenue will go to a local dog rescue.

Viewers send photos, videos of hail and lightning as severe thunderstorms roll through San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO — A line of severe thunderstorms moved through the San Antonio area Friday night, bringing large hail and strong winds on the last Friday of Fiesta.A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in effect for parts of Bexar and surrounding counties until 9 p.m. Friday, elevating the danger potential for anyone at Fiesta events in the evening.Golf-ball sized hail rained down o...

SAN ANTONIO — A line of severe thunderstorms moved through the San Antonio area Friday night, bringing large hail and strong winds on the last Friday of Fiesta.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in effect for parts of Bexar and surrounding counties until 9 p.m. Friday, elevating the danger potential for anyone at Fiesta events in the evening.

Golf-ball sized hail rained down on Pipe Creek as the storms approached San Antonio, while pea-sized hail fell in various neighborhoods across the Alamo City.

Check out some of the storm and jail photos that KENS 5 viewers sent in Friday evening.



Learn more about KENS 5:

Since going on the air in 1950, KENS 5 has strived to be the best, most trusted news and entertainment source for generations of San Antonians.

KENS 5 has brought numerous firsts to South Texas television, including being the first local station with a helicopter, the first with its own Doppler radar and the first to air a local morning news program.

Over the years, KENS 5 has worked to transform local news. Our cameras have been the lens bringing history into local viewers' homes. We're proud of our legacy as we serve San Antonians today.

Today, KENS 5 continues to set the standard in local broadcasting and is recognized by its peers for excellence and innovation. The KENS 5 News team focuses on stories that really matter to our community.

You can find KENS 5 in more places than ever before, including, the KENS 5 app, the KENS 5 YouTube channel, KENS 5's Roku and Fire TV apps, and across social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more!

Want to get in touch with someone at KENS 5? You can send a message using our Contacts page or email one of our team members.

Texas history: Bandera is a cowboy country unto itself

BANDERA — The mystery starts at the edge of town.A green sign reads: "Bandera City Limit, Pop. 957."Really? Fewer than 1,000 people live in this bustling cowboy town on the banks of the Medina River northwest of San Antonio?A place that hosts at least two singular museums, a capacious and well-stoc...

BANDERA — The mystery starts at the edge of town.

A green sign reads: "Bandera City Limit, Pop. 957."

Really? Fewer than 1,000 people live in this bustling cowboy town on the banks of the Medina River northwest of San Antonio?

A place that hosts at least two singular museums, a capacious and well-stocked library, a bounty of eateries — one of them, O.S.T., has been in business since 1921 — a modern supermarket, a downtown hotel, and a handsome county courthouse?

"Bandera itself is actually very small," says Mauri Guillén Fagan, director of the Bandera Library. "Bandera County, however, has 20,000 people. All of us on staff, for instance, live outside of town."

That solves part of the mystery. Consider, too, the tourists.

The rugged countryside near the town is flecked with tourist camps for snowbirds — winter visitors from up north. Further out in the hills, one finds the dude ranches that sprang up in the 1920s, decades after the decline of the Great Western Cattle Trail that stretched from this snug Texas valley to Ogallala, Nebraska.

And times are changing: Suburbs with grand entryways are crawling down from Greater San Antonio.

"We have broadband now," Fagan says. "People can work from home here."

Good point.

That technological breakthrough alone is destined to change many aspects of small-town Texas life and the rural West altogether.

Cattle, sheep, goats — and wood

A jagged crown of hills not only separates Bandera from the rest of the world — they cut the town off from the western part of Bandera County that includes the early settlement of Tarpley (pop. 30), where, during select hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, one can dine al fresco at Mac and Ernie's Roadside Eatery, a gem that seats more people than reside in the hamlet.

This is gorgeous country.

It must have intimidated the Spanish, who followed Native American trails through the valley, as they encountered the Tonkawas, Lipan Apaches and Comanches, and supplied the doomed San Saba Mission.

The 1921 O.S.T. Restaurant, which serves deeply satisfying Duke Burgers on Bandera's Main Street, is named for the "Old Spanish Trail." In case you were wondering about the "Duke" reference, no, we did not dine in the eatery's John Wayne Room, lined with scores of images of the Western movie star.

The surrounding terrain must have looked fairly alarming, as well, to the mostly Polish and Anglo settlers who arrived in the 1850s.

The Polish people arrived from Panna Maria, located more than 100 miles away on the other side of San Antonio, to work in the sawmills that turned out cypress shingles for that booming city. They established the sturdy and atmospheric Saint Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church, the second oldest such parish in the U.S.

One can still spot bumper stickers that bear the slogan: "Keep Bandera Polish."

Watered by tributaries of the Medina, the county proved fantastic ranch land, first for cattle, then for sheep and goats. At one point, ranchers registered almost 1,000 cattle brands in the county.

Like the rest of the Hill Country, Bandera is subject to catastrophic flash floods, such as the one on July 17, 1973, that inundated much of this town strung along a bend in the Medina. One can find out more about that flood in a small exhibit at the library.

Besides the majestic cypress trees, which make gray-and-green cathedrals out of the narrow rivers and creeks, this is oak and juniper country. As I recently learned through Elmer Kelton's magnificent novel — set during the long Texas drought of the 1950s — those oaks provided a last line of defense, providing fodder for the browsing goats.

The 1813 Battle of Medina, the bloodiest battle on Texas soil and sometimes considered a preview of the Texas Revolution, did not take place on the Medina River here, but rather south of San Antonio. Interestingly, historians and history buffs have not been able to determine the exact location of the battle, although the historical marker has been planted in Atascosa County.

We have a better idea about the 1841 Battle of Bandera Pass, a skirmish between Texas Rangers under Capt. John Coffee "Jack" Hays and Comanches waiting in a high, narrow pass between the Medina and Guadalupe rivers. This encounter saw the introduction of the Colt revolver, often credited with giving the Texians the upper hand against Native Americans.

During the 1850s, Bandera witnessed a federal experiment that introduced pack camels to dry West Texas; they were quartered, along with imported camel drivers, at nearby Camp Verde located not far from Bandera Pass.

Bandera's golden age might have been the decades after the Civil War, when the legendary cattle drives helped establish the town's status as "Cowboy Capital of the World," a claim it generously shares with Stephenville up on the Bosque River.

The railroads skipped rugged Bandera County, as did the superhighways.

That left the spectacular land open for dude ranches, made popular in the cities by the first wave of silent Western movies. These resorts give city folk a comfortable taste of cowboy life with trail rides, rustic rodeos, time with livestock, Western dances and mounds of chuckwagon food.

(Someday, I'll tell you about my one experience at a Bandera County dude ranch, which included an extremely painful gastric response to an excess of bacon. Some foodstuff should never be offered buffet-style.)

During World War II, off-duty military personnel were bussed to the dude ranches from bases in San Antonio and Hondo.

Meanwhile, Bandera evolved into something of a party town. For some 70 years, dining, drinks and dancing could be had at the famed Cabaret Dance Hall and other roadside spots. The happy place hosted a live radio show during the 1940s and '50s.

And each year, the curious flock to the Bandera Stampede, a rodeo-based festival on Memorial Day weekend. One "Think, Texas" correspondent told me that he wrecked his car two years in a row at the rowdy Stampede.

Honky-tonks such as the untouched Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar on Main Street still draw fans from across the state. When, during this trip, I descended the stairs into the dark room to smiles from a quartet playing cards in the afternoon, a woman winced in pain, then walked behind the bar to take my order.

Me: "Sorry to make you get up."

Her, matter-of-factly: "That's my job."

Our time on the town

Despite its time in the spotlight, Bandera has managed to hang onto an air of authenticity.

This includes the improved but still unfinished project to make Main Street — and the nearby older town center — more friendly to pedestrians. While vacationing recently at a cabin perched above the Medina River in the nearby community of Highland Waters, I took several strolls around downtown. There are still places where friendly truck drivers must pause to make a narrow passage for walkers where no sidewalks exist.

Among the required downtown magnets is the Frontier Times Museum, established in 1927 and expanded in 1933 by J. Marvin Hunter Sr., editor of the Frontier Times magazine. It houses 30,000 items, including Hunter's collection of Old West memorabilia in a series of galleries inside a flagstone building — decorated with petrified wood, fossils and unusually shaped stones — that has been expanded over the years.

I've visited dozens of local history museums in small Texas towns, and this is one of the most thorough and well-documented. Informed by modern practices, but charmingly old-fashioned, it displays the physical remnants of daily life on the frontier and notates them with an unusual degree of precision.

At the Bandera Library, established in 1937, I browsed its large and up-to-date Texana section, then asked for assistance on printed local histories. Two in particular proved useful: "Pioneer History of Bandera County: 75 Years of Intrepid History" written by J. Marvin Hunter in 1922, and "A Pictorial History of Bandera County: 150 years of Challenges, Courage, Champions and Characters," edited by M.J. Schumacher in 2006.

Hunter wrote in a familiarly antiquated style about heroic pioneers and hostile American Indians. Schumacher's book, on the other hand, cleverly assigns different topics to experts on geology, early Native American life, cattle trails and so forth.

I learned a lot. For instance, that the R.B. Richards Circus made its summer home Bandera County's Pipe Creek community. Also, that the Medina Dam Project, which impounded the river and created Lake Medina, was proposed in the 1890s and completed in 1912, well before most other such Hill Country projects.

I didn't make it to the Bandera Natural History Museum, but Fagan told me that, in addition to traditional dioramas about dinosaurs and other exhibits, it recently acquired an excellent grouping of Spanish Colonial art.

Next week, I'll share more stories about the Texas rivers that, like the Medina, fall from the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau, as well as a hike in Hill Country State Natural Area, and an indulgent brunch at picnic tables in the hamlet of Tarpley.

Michael Barnes writes about the people, places, culture and history of Austin and Texas. He can be reached at [email protected].

An earlier version of this story had the incorrect date for the Medina Dam, which was proposed in the 1890s and built in 2012.

Power back on for residents in Bandera, Gillespie counties after outages during freezing weather

SAN ANTONIO – Power has been restored to thousands of residents in Bandera and Gillespie counties who experienced power outages on Friday morning amid freezing temperatures.“We had an equipment failure at the Medina Lake substation,” Bandera Electric Cooperative Chief Administrative Officer John Padalino said. “That piece of equipment served over 1,400 homes. When that equipment failed, we tried to shift those homes to ...

SAN ANTONIO – Power has been restored to thousands of residents in Bandera and Gillespie counties who experienced power outages on Friday morning amid freezing temperatures.

“We had an equipment failure at the Medina Lake substation,” Bandera Electric Cooperative Chief Administrative Officer John Padalino said. “That piece of equipment served over 1,400 homes. When that equipment failed, we tried to shift those homes to a different substation at the time.”

In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Bandera Electric Cooperative said the utility is experiencing “unprecedented” demand and equipment failures due to the freeze.

Earlier Friday, the utility announced that it was implementing rolling outages in Bandera, Pipe Creek and Wharton’s Dock. BEC said they will attempt to keep outages limited to 30 minutes.

Due to the high energy demand and to maintain the integrity of our electric grid, BEC will have rolling outages in the Bandera, Pipe Creek, and Wharton's Dock areas. We will attempt to keep outages limited to 30 minutes. We appreciate your patience.

— Bandera Electric Cooperative (@BanderaElectric) December 23, 2022

“(The demand) made it very problematic to shift those number of homes to a different substation,” Padalino said. “When we tried to shift that load, other equipment along the line, kind of upstream from there, started tripping out because it became overloaded. It took us through the morning to reset all that equipment.”

As of 1 p.m., fewer than 500 people in Bandera and Medina Counties were without power. Dozens of BEC customers in Kendall and Kerr were also without power.

The full statement reads:

Click here to see an outage map from BEC.

The Central Texas Electric Cooperative in Fredericksburg said residents there also experienced power outages, but crews have located the problem and are working on repairs.

Power for most of the major outages was restored by 10:30 a.m.

Click here to see an outage map from CTEC.

CPS Energy in San Antonio has not reported major outages.

See the CPS Energy outage map here.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has said there are enough resources to meet the demand, but local utility companies may experience some issues.

People who are experiencing a power outage should contact their local power provider, ERCOT says.

Click here to see the outage map of Texas.

5:05AM FRI: Some power outages this morning. 200 customers are seeing issues in Bexar Co, but bigger numbers are being reported in Bandera and Gillespie Co. These are not widespread grid issues, but rather localized problems. Crews are working hard to get power restored.

— Justin Horne (@Justin_Horne) December 23, 2022

Read more:

Rainfall update: Here’s how much rain fell in South Central Texas this past week

Finally, good amounts of rain for parts of South Central Texas!After starting off the first full week of April in the summer-like 80s and 90s, a soggier and cooler weather pattern set up and made for a winter-like end to the week in San Antonio.Recommended VideosMore rain in the forecast today and into tonight, before it ends tomorrowThis is a modal window.No compatible source was found for this media.Quiet stretch of weather, but I've got my eye on the next storm system (1/28/2024 Update)Heav...

Finally, good amounts of rain for parts of South Central Texas!

After starting off the first full week of April in the summer-like 80s and 90s, a soggier and cooler weather pattern set up and made for a winter-like end to the week in San Antonio.

Recommended Videos

More rain in the forecast today and into tonight, before it ends tomorrow

This is a modal window.

No compatible source was found for this media.

Quiet stretch of weather, but I've got my eye on the next storm system (1/28/2024 Update)

Heavy rain washed out tons of trash along San Antonio River. Here’s what’s being done about it.

By the time all was said and done, over an inch and a half of rain was officially recorded at San Antonio International Airport, with higher, multi-inch totals recorded in our southern and eastern counties.

Here’s a look at rainfall totals reported by official observation stations from Wednesday, April 5 through Saturday, April 8:

Rainfall Totals

LocationRainfall Total
San Antonio International Airport1.66″
Kelly Field0.85″
Randolph Air Force Base1.64″
Stinson Municipal Airport1.43″
New Braunfels1.61″
Sutherland Springs1.76″
Pipe Creek1.00″

How Could This Help With Drought?

The rain found this week brings our grand total to a whopping 4.80″ for 2023 in San Antonio. For context, the average amount of rainfall that we “should” have accumulated up to this point is 6.59″, so we still have some work to do in the rainfall department!

In terms of our drought conditions, the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests that our region needs anywhere from 6″-12″ of rain to alleviate the drought.

While the rain found over the past few days won’t completely get rid of the drought area-wide, it certainly should help chip away at it!

Here’s the latest drought monitor that was released on April 6, which does NOT include this past rain event:

Looking forward to seeing what improvements may be found in the next one that will be released on Thursday, April 13!

Now we just need to work on getting some much-needed rain into our westernmost counties.

Read more from the meteorologists on the Whatever the Weather page

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