If you are driving 45mph north on Bandera Highway past the old Ferrellgas Company building, chances are you’re going more like 50. Because you’ve either turned right from Loop 534 and are impatiently trying to get to town this way or you have been on Bandera for a while, barely made the light at the intersection — where a Papa Johns Pizza somehow stays in business despite the awful location and using what tastes like barbecue sauce instead of tomato — and in your enthusiasm you miss the building altogether. If you don’t, you think, “What an eyesore.”
You certainly don’t consider pulling off to the right onto the barely visible gravel semi-circle, where you worry about puncturing a tire.
But if you do slow your vehicle, pull over, and turn off the engine, you’ll see a building with a dilapidated terra cotta tiled roof. There’s a 20-foot high overhang, ostensibly for trucks with gas tanks to pull through, and on the right behind a chain link fence with a gap just large enough for two hands and a cellphone camera, there’s a meter, made by Neptune.
Here’s the latest model. If it were up to me — deciding on which meter to place before my discriminating customers — I’d go with the blue one, which of course I turned into a black-and-white photo for the purposes of looking like I’m a hip blogger.
And again, if I had my druthers — and this is only my druthers; your druthers could be different yet still valid druthers — I’d wait for the R1000. I mean, it’s only one zero away, and it sounds kick-ass.
But this building, and the meter, and the lot, are some of the gems you see around town if you’re aware and looking.
If there’s a shift in my “vision-dreaming” since moving from New York City to small town Texas, it’s that I have to think more street level, diffused, and outdoor.
I once had a dream (a literal dream) of a rooftop bar and bistro, perhaps on the 30th or so floor of a downtown office building. You enter by elevator into a triple-height+ lobby with a waterfall. The building is capped with a large cube of thick glass, much like the original Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. In the restaurant lobby there are overstuffed leather chairs and glass coffee tables. Greenery and vines frame the gentle waterfall, so you have the feel of being in a garden, but without humidity. You walk through that space and, taking a 180-degree turn, you ascend on a short escalator to the upper level, where first there is a bar. The bar itself has inlaid Spanish tiles. At night this place is stunning. After your sangria you walk to the right of the bar, up three steps, and you enter the restaurant area, pausing at the hostess stand. She leads you and your lover to a corner table, covered with a crisp white tablecloth, glass all around you, overlooking the pin-prick lights many stories below.
You order wine.