Bike down a long and bumpy farm road in Texas and you’ll ride past a few evangelical churches and one yard sign yelling in all caps “WAKE UP AMERICA! PRAY!” Four houses away is the coolest gay couple in America.
Peach and Connie operate “Shepherd’s Sanctuary” out of their home near Shepherd, Texas. It’s a multi-building compound of cabins, fire pits, trailers and sheds that they have all blanketed in extraordinary design.
Peach calls herself a “junk collector,” and her massive inventory of antique toys, novelty trinkets and barroom decor is nothing short of Babylonian. What’s outside and on display is just a drop in the bucket. They rent out their property– which is decked out in gardens and circles of lawn furniture and even a heart-shaped pond– as event space for retreats, weddings, workshops, parties or (in my case) camping.
Some nooks are truly a sight to behold– intricate and visually complex spaces where every little oddity has a place and purpose of its own. The central building is a hayloft-turned-house with a downstairs wallpapered in tavern neon signs and a downright sexy upstairs. It’s wallpapered in creamy beige and lined with tropical memorabilia. The bathroom has a trio of framed Victorian-era nude photos.
Connie gave me a little tour around the property, her eyes beaming with pride and enthusiasm and her pink hair spiking upwards towards the sky. Her most prized possession hung over the hayloft’s porch, which is themed in the kind of rusting metal and aluminum that is worthy of a Road Warrior set. It’s a billboard-sized neon Buffy the Vampire Slayer sign, so large that it takes up almost the entire side of the building. The cult 90′s TV series was one of Connie’s favorites.
“She was a real hero,” Connie sighed wistfully.
“And he ended the show real well, too,” she added.
Somewhere in Texas, there’s a line in the sand where Southern traditionalism moves aside for Western spunk. I think I’ve crossed it.
Shepherd’s Sanctuary is a veritable oasis of pop-friendly coolness located in a part of the country where churches are more common than traffic lights. It’s run by a successful and thriving gay couple, no less. Kermitt, their handyman, built these cabins out of the parts of food-damaged trailers that would’ve otherwise been scrapped.
Inside and out, Shepherd’s Sanctuary built out of dead artifacts that came here to be revived, and is one of the most hopeful and vibrant places that I’ve discovered, steeped in nostalgic memories of the past and bright hopes for a better future.
Dinner is picked from the garden. Mine is a salad made out of fresh kale, basil and something blue and local that I’ve never seen before. The totally-reasonable cambing fee includes kitchen-diving privileges, and they’ve got some pretty nice dressings in the pantry. I feel right at home here.
Countless people have come and gone from this place (the guestbook is extensive– with Ben and Delany as the second-to-last entries,) and it’s left a mark on every one of them. This house is built entireley out of love and hard work, and with a good dose of humor thrown in as well. It’s one of the most satisfying discoveries I’ve made thus far.