Before there was the interstate highway system and a steady stream of 18-wheelers, there was a road called the Old Spanish Trail that went from St Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California. One of the benefits of our Jack Kerourac-style traveling, is following an old road that preserves the culture and sights of a past era.
We left the interstate highway to travel a chunk of the Old Spanish Trail west of San Antonio, Texas. The road went right through Main Street in Bandera, Texas. Naturally, there was still a general store on Main Street, and the very charming OST Diner – “OST” being the acronym for Old Spanish Trail. This diner was a stopping point for the Chevys, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles of the 1940s and 50s.
We went in for a late breakfast (served all day, of course!). The decor is kitschy Western, with a large section of one wall dedicated to John Wayne. For you cowboys missing the range, the bar stools are saddles. Their specialty, and traditional breakfast, is chicken fried steak, eggs, biscuits and gravy, and perfectly cooked hash browns. All of it was delicious and perfect, served with fantastic coffee (and I’m a mean critic of coffee, so you know it was good!).
The idea for a southern-most transcontinental road was conceived in 1915, and took nearly 15 years to finish. The Old Spanish Trail strung together four different US freeways. By the early 60s, Interstate Highways I-10 and I-8 killed the Old Spanish Trail and many of the businesses on it. One of the truly great losses of America is its heterogeneity – the lack of unique Mom & Pop businesses that still mark so many other places in the world. That is the reason Deena and I travel.