Monday, June 30, 2008

Finding the Scoop: One Texas Town at a Time

Welcome to all Children's Courtyard Parents!

Many of us know that February is Black History Month, March is Women's History Month, and October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but does anyone know what the month of July is designated to honor? I know that until spending the past few weeks with Claudia in Grapevine I could not have answered that question. Lucky for you, I did spend a few weeks with Claudia and am now able to share with you the true importance of the month of July.

Let me begin with a bit of background. This past Friday, the day before I left Texas to return home, Claudia and I went on a bit of an adventure. We dropped Jack at daycare and then she handed the car keys over to me. From there, the road was open to us, taking us where we were fated to go. We had no preconceived notions about where we would end up that afternoon. Instead, we only had one goal in mind. Destination: Ice Cream. That’s right, July is National Ice Cream Month, and so we spent Friday in search of the perfect ice cream story.

Seeing as how I’m a Kentucky girl born and raised and my ability to drive around Grapevine consisted of getting from Claudia’s house, to Target, and to the boys’ daycare, we were destined to make our way to the middle of nowhere. Our adventure began driving down Pleasant Run Rd and making our way to both Southlake and Northlake, TX. Along the way, we stumbled upon Sweet Street, so I knew we were headed in the right direction.

A few miles down the road, however, we ran into our first no outlet. So, we turned around and eventually made our way to TX 114. A short time later, we spotted our first sign we were doing something right: a closed sno cone shop. While not exactly ice cream, it gave us assurance we were well on our way. A few miles later, we saw a billboard for Dairy Queen. As the billboard said, 2 miles down the road and to my right I saw the advertised Dairy Queen in a town named Rhome. In my mind, I immediately thought, “when in Rhome”, so we pulled off and got our first ice cream of the day at 10:43 am. We shared a small waffle crisp blizzard, which included pieces of a waffle cone, vanilla ice cream, caramel, and chocolate chunks. Since we had named ourselves ice cream experts for the day, we gave a great review to the blizzard, but a bad review for the actual Dairy Queen (cleanliness factors). A side note for those with a need for the “crunch factor” like Claudia: the pieces of waffle cone become soft when mixed in with the rest of the ingredients. If you’re looking for a “crunch factor”, this may not be the treat for you. While the treat was tasty and worth the stop, we knew that we had not yet found the true ice cream story for which we were searching.

Once back on the road, we stumbled upon two more signs that we were still headed in the right direction: a Dreyer’s ice cream truck parked in a repair shop parking lot and an ice cream truck traveling along side us on the road.

After a few stops to take pictures of the trucks, we decided (once again, just following our instincts) to pull off at Justin, TX. Upon arriving in Justin, we found the famous Justin Boots. After a short shopping spree inside the outlet store, we headed over to the recommended Lonesome Spur Café where we ordered grilled cheese sandwiches and onion rings. I feel the need to note that while Justin brought us no ice cream, it did bring the largest (I guess everything is bigger in Texas) and most delicious onion rings I have ever experienced. Between the boots and the onion rings, I am willing to say that the stop in Justin was well worth it, and of course was one more step in the right direction. Back on the road again and simply paying attention to my instincts and wandering off in my own mind, I spotted a sign for Ponder, TX.

We pulled off the exit and found our way to Ponder. We stopped off at the Post Office to see if anyone could point us into the direction of some ice cream. We quickly learned that Ponder had no ice cream shop, but we may be able to find what we were looking for at Bev’s convenience store down the street. So, we headed to Bev's and found what little they had to offer in small coolers toward the front of the shop. At 1:42 pm, as we picked out our second round of ice cream for the day (myself a Push-up Pop and Claudia a Toll House crunch bar), Bev came walking toward the front of the store and began to speak with us. Claudia shared with Bev our search for the perfect ice cream story, and in return, Bev gave us exactly what we had been searching for- our final destination.

She told us about a small homemade ice cream shop in the town square at Denton by the name of Beth Marie’s. According to Bev, they are famous for their ice cream and the fact that it is all homemade right there in the shop. Claudia and I looked at each other and knew we had found it. Bev gave us some brief directions to get us from Ponder to Beth Marie’s and then we were on our way!

Again behind the steering wheel, we followed the directions Bev had given us and headed to Denton to find Beth Marie’s. Upon our arrival, we parked at the antique shop and walked up to the town square. What we found was a square full of boutiques, restaurants, and barbershops. Having already had two rounds of ice cream plus lunch, we decided to stop in at some of the shops before finding our way to our final ice cream story. However, from the moment we set eyes on Beth Marie’s, we knew we had found exactly what we were looking for the entire day. Between the jukebox in the corner, the old style table and chairs spread throughout the shop, the checkerboard floor, the tie dyed t-shirts, and the smiles on the faces of the employees behind the counter, we were certain we’d found our ice cream story! One of the first things to catch our eye in the shop was the board listing the flavors and options for ice cream. As we began to try some of the flavors, we realized why this shop was so famous. The history of the shop was radiating even from the offerings of flavors, including: Ashley’s Key Lime, Sue’s Snickers, Beth’s Raspberry Truffle, etc. Many of the flavors were preceded by someone’s name, which we came to find out were people either from around town or former employees who had created the idea for the ice cream flavor. The owners take suggestions for ice cream flavors and upon its success, it then bears the name of the creator. After much debate, I settled on a sugar cone of Turtle Torture, which was cream flavored with nuts and caramel covered in chocolate. Claudia settled on a sampler including Campfire Marshmallow, Beth’s Raspberry Truffle,and Cappuccino Crunch.

After completing our mission for the day, we said our goodbyes, and pulled out the GPS to find our way home. What started as a random day spent on the road searching for a good ice cream story, ended up with a day full of laughs, memories, and the perfect small town homemade ice cream shop! The result was exactly what we were searching for: an ice cream story worth sharing and a great start to honoring ice cream for the entire month of July!

Happy National Ice Cream Month to all of you! In honor of our search for ice cream, what fun ice cream shops have you stumbled upon in small towns around the country? Where do you go for your favorite hometown ice cream?

Signing off as today’s guest writer and off to fall in love with new ideas.
Katie K (cspgradstudent)

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