Melanie Shankle on Round Top and Junk Gypsies and Pie
Melanie Shankle is a wife, a mom, an Aggie, a trendsetting blogger, and the author of two New York Times best-sellers, Sparkly Green Earrings and Antelope in the Living Room. Her current book, Nobody’s Cuter than You, is a memoir about the power of friendships. Her books and blog are available at thebigmamablog.com. The following first appeared on her blog on April 4, 2016, after her maiden voyage to Round Top and is reprinted with permission.
So I have now experienced Antiques Week in Round Top, Texas.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be the same.
For years I’ve heard people talk about Round Top and tell me “YOU HAVE TO GO” and I’ve nodded my head and thought it might be fun and then it just never seemed to be a good time to make the trip. Which, by the way, is only a two hour drive from my house. What have I been doing with my life?
But several months ago, Jolie from the Junk Gypsies emailed me and asked if I wanted to come do a book signing at their store during Antiques Week and I jumped at the chance because I knew it would be the thing to finally get me to commit to a Round Top trip.
So last Thursday, Gulley, Mimi and I hopped in the car and made the two-hour trek to Round Top. I knew we were in for a good time when we found ourselves on a long, two lane stretch of Texas highway with nothing but fields of wildflowers and Longhorns for miles. And then all of a sudden we began to see tent after tent after tent along each side of the road, all of them filled with everything from cowhide rugs to architectural salvage pieces.
We window shopped from the car as we drove to the Junk Gypsy store and couldn’t wait to get out and shop. I’d had a lot of friends who are Round Top pros tell me where we needed to go and the best stops to make so we felt somewhat prepared to take it all on. But first we unloaded our bags at the Wander Inn, which is the Junk Gypsies’ bed and breakfast that isn’t open to the public yet but was maybe one of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed.
The whole thing was just so quirky and charming and welcoming, just like the girls themselves. There were rocking chairs on the front porch, pretty much zero cell phone reception, and pastures full of nothing but cattle all around. After I quit twitching from the part about no cell phone reception, I relaxed and realized it was just the like the olden days in the 1980s when no one had a cell phone.
We headed out to Marburger Farm first and spent most of the afternoon there looking at everything, then went to Common Ground before racing to Royer’s Cafe to get there in time for our 6:30 dinner reservation. I have to admit here that I did not have the foresight to make a dinner reservation because it never even occurred to me, but a friend of mine had the heads up to make one for me and I am forever grateful because dinner at Royer’s during Antiques Week is a highly coveted event. I have never seen a place so packed with so many people who were totally happy to wait as long as it took to eat there. And after I ate my shrimp stuffed quail and shared two pieces of pie with Mimi and Gulley, I totally get it. I’m a fan for life. It was seriously one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I even got to take a picture with Tara and Jamie.
The next morning we did our best to load up the previous day’s purchases in Gulley’s car along with our suitcases before we went out to do a little more shopping before my book signing. It’s funny how our suitcases didn’t seem to fit as well as they did the day before. In fact, we even told each other that the criteria for how much you wanted to buy something else was if you wanted it badly enough to carry it home in your lap for two hours in the car.
We went to Excess 2 and managed to find a few more things. Gulley found a sign that she almost had shipped before the dealer figured out a way to fit it in our car. It was basically a trick that even Houdini himself couldn’t have accomplished, but we’re clearly dealing with pros. And I think it was time to head back to the Junk Gypsy store just in time because I was starting to get a little punch drunk and having visions of totally redecorating my entire house with gold nesting tables and green velvet chairs and “Hey! I’ve always wanted a table made out of an old filing cabinet and scrap wood!” I knew maybe I’d crossed over to the other side of good sense when I impulsively bought something that was billed as a “blueberry cart” with a level of excitement that indicated I’d spent all my life looking for a blueberry cart even though the reality is I didn’t even know such a thing existed.
As soon as we got back to the Junk Gypsy store, Gulley and I took a quick minute to take a picture in front of the Gilley’s sign they had in the boot lounge.
We are two Texas girls that spent the formative years of our childhood watching Urban Cowboy and, while our dreams of riding the mechanical bull at Gilley’s were never realized, we will treasure this picture forever.
(Side note: There are rumors that Gilley’s is going to reopen. But I don’t know that riding a mechanical bull in your mid-forties seems like a good idea. I hear it can lead to living with an ex-con who wears shirts made out of net and lives in a trailer outside Gilley’s until your estranged husband shows up and rescues you and you ride off in his truck with his and her personalized license plates in the rear window.)
After that, I signed books and met so many nice people and saw some friends and managed to shop from where I was seated in the middle of the store by just watching what people were carrying around. I left with a necklace, several t-shirts and a couple of hats. It was the best.
And then Jolie and I took a quick picture before Gulley, Mimi and I began our drive back to San Antonio.
We got in the car, turned onto the highway and that’s when we discovered the only downside of Round Top.
Traffic gets a little backed up on a Friday afternoon. It took us—and I am not even exaggerating—an hour and a half to drive one mile. ONE MILE. But here’s how much fun we’d had, I still thought it was all worth it.
Although next time I go, I’m not leaving on a Friday afternoon at four o’ clock.
But there will definitely be a next time because the whole thing was just more fun than I ever imagined. I give it two thumbs up and a blueberry cart.
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by Melanie Shankle
photos courtesy of Melanie Shankle