My first trip to the Big Bend area came when I had been hired to work on the marketing team for Lajitas. The name is Spanish for “little flat rocks” and refers to the Boquillas limestone of the region. The office was located in Austin, but we would fly into the far West Texas resort for meetings. Sadly, we were working and not sight seeing. The only view I had of Santa Elena Canyon was a marketing photograph. This trip was my chance to see the Big Bend country.
Lajitas, twelve miles west of the Terlingua Ghost Town, had consisted of a trading post and an old cavalry post that was used as a hunting lodge. It had been bought by Houston business man, Walter Mischer in 1977. The scruffy, Old West-style resort was best known for its beer-swilling mayor, a goat named Clay Henry. Mischer had turned the town, into a modest resort with an Old West boardwalk, cheap hotel rooms, a nine hole golf course, and an RV park anchored by the 65-year old trading post became known locally as the Courthouse of South County.
In 2000, Austin-telecommunications tycoon Steve Smith bought the town at public auction. Smith’s vision was to transform Lajitas into the Palm Springs of Texas and it was christened The Ultimate Hideout. Fast forward to 2007, the property was sold again.
We stopped General Store that has moved down the highway from the resort and is now home to the new mayor Clay Henry. The postcards I found that seemed familiar. They were from the time I had worked there.