Cedar Canyon Lodge and Cabins is more Indian blankets than lace doilies in the world of overnight accommodations. This is the evolution of camping. Up from the tent floor, out of the recreational vehicle, man and woman have moved into a cabin with a porch swing in the front and a hot tub in the back in the middle of a nature preserve.
The seven cabins are on the dry side of Bald Mountain, which forms a peninsula jutting out from the northwestern shore of Possum Kingdom Lake. Each one-room cabin comes with a picnic table, a small kitchen stocked with cloth napkins and wineglasses, a tall queen bed, a heater and air-conditioner that work great, and plenty of hot water. The best part of the cozy cabins is the rocking chairs on the front porches.
From the shaded perch just outside your front door, the activity of a working cattle ranch hardly notices your presence. Black Angus cattle demand the right-of-way on the dirt road leading from the ranch gate to the cabins clustered in a scenic valley. All day a whirlwind of birds darts from branch to branch around the cabins. In the mornings, the jackrabbits hop across the salad bowl of a front lawn undisturbed by Cooper, the resident pooch and honorary mayor.
"This is still very much a working cattle ranch," says Joanie Edwards. Her husband, Jud, grew up on the ranch that his grandfather settled more than 70 years ago in the northwestern tip of Palo Pinto County. The land is accentuated by steep peaks that might look like buried mountaintops from an airplane. The thin layer of soil and rock is held onto the hillside by the roots of grass, mountain juniper (cedar), mesquite, and oak trees.
Cedar Canyon is off FM 1148 at the end of a dirt road, about as far away from the developed southern shores of Possum Kingdom as you can get by land. About halfway between Breckenridge and Graham, the cabins are at least a 30-minute drive from either town. A few marinas and campgrounds with trailer-park villages dot the shoreline along the route, but when you get to Cedar Canyon it's a long way to the nearest grocery store. "We want our guests to spend a little time in nature without having to be somewhere," Joanie says. "They can either totally relax or get up and explore the ranch." Personal chef service is available, or guests can take advantage of the barbecue grill and kitchen facilities.
The Edwardses cater to couples and corporate retreats. "We try to keep the kids to a minimum so that other parents don't feel guilt for not bringing theirs," she says. In the 18 months they have been open, the Edwardses have hosted several honeymoons, anniversaries, and a few proposals. This February the first wedding will be held at the little settlement in the woods.
Corporations come out for team exercises in problem-solving away from the telephones and meetings. The lodge, which doubles as the Edwardses' office and kitchen, has a media center for business meetings held at the ranch.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Joanie fixes a hearty breakfast for the guests. The days can be spent hiking or biking the trails and ranch roads that crisscross the 2,000-acre ranch. "The view from the lookout is the most beautiful place on the ranch," Joanie says. "The water, land, and sky all seem to come together. I could pitch a tent up there and stay forever."
In the fall, the landscape turns into a painting of golds, reds, and many shades of green. During the winter, bald eagles make their home on the lakeshores. At night, there are a million more stars than you'll see in the city, Joanie says.
On Saturday nights, the Edwardses invite local musicians to sit around a campfire in the front yard. "We like to keep it simple," Joanie says.
Cedar Canyon Cabins are not for everyone, but everyone who goes there seems to really enjoy it whether they are looking for solitude or an outdoor experience. Room rates range from $129 to $149 and include breakfast on weekends only. For more information, call 940/549-8999 or visit their Web site at www.cedarcanyonlodge.com. For information on Possum Kingdom Lake, call 940/779-2424 or visit www.possumkingdomlake.com.
631st in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.