If you’re like 330 million other Americans, you’ve probably found yourself a little fatigued with 11 months of pandemic pandemonium, plus winter weather, and bored with the every-weekend vacay to Puerta Backyardo.
You’re not quite ready to jump on an airplane or pay the price of a home monthly mortgage to spend a weekend at a swanky hotel. You’re also not quite ready to succumb to a camping trip, complete with pitching a tent and peeing in the woods. Something in between would be ideal. Something a short drive from home with outdoor recreation (maybe kayaking, hiking or fishing), a comfortable bed, central heating and air, and a bathroom with a high-pressured shower and Turkish towels. A girl can dream right?
Well, one girl did. And she came up with a timely solution to our stir crazy problems. That answer: Hipcamp. Avid surfer Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp’s founder, built the web’s most comprehensive lodging site for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Lodging options include cabins, treehouses and glamping. Even better, it’s now international. Basically, Hipcamp is a one-stop shop for anyone looking for a hippie getaway.
And, a local Texas couple jumped on board, finding synergy in the Hipcamp vibe and applying it to their local tribe, opening yurt doors at The Reserve at GreenLeaf.
A Texas Outdoor Paradise
A preservation/conservation property with four yurts in Lost Pines, TX, The Reserve at GreenLeaf, is an outdoor enthusiast’s “happy place.” Owners Bubba and Jeanne Clardy have deep Texas (specifically, Bastrop) roots and a backstory to tell as interesting as the property itself.
Like we said, the Clardys have strong local roots. Turns out, Bubba’s great-great-grandfather William Clopton moved to Bastrop County from Tennessee before Texas statehood in the 1830s. (Texas history buffs will love the fact that Clopton was part of the Mier Expedition. His company was captured by Santa Anna’s troops and blindfolded, then forced to reach into a pot and draw out a white or black bean. Those who drew black beans were executed. William drew white.)
Jeanne, a Texas girl herself, met Bubba in Austin in 1979 at the now gone, but much lamented by many longtime Austinites, Aqua Fest. As Bubba says, Aqua Fest was “a two week party of live music and speedboat races, way before anyone knew what ACL or SXSW meant.”
The Vision for GreenLeaf
By 2005, the pair were married, with 7 kids. Seeing the growing popularity of Austin and Central Texas, Bubba worried that their own children and grandchildren wouldn’t have the same carefree childhood as his. “Exploring the forests of the county and skirting along the banks of the Colorado River in search of adventure, is still one of the most exciting and engaging memories of my life,” he says.
Then fate stepped in. Remember great-great-grandpa William? Well, back in the early to mid 1900s, his daughter farmed land in McDade, Texas, not far from Bastrop. There are many stories to tell about the independently-minded, feisty Hettie Clopton, however we’ll have to save those for another time.
In the 1940s, the US Department of Defense had bought land that included Hettie’s farm to build Camp Swift. As Bubba and Jeanne’s thoughts turned to purchasing and protecting land around Bastrop, where did their eye fall? Yes, on land originally farmed by Bubba’s great-grandmother. “The property we now call The Reserve at GreenLeaf was part of the original Camp Swift military complex,” explains her proud great-grandson.
Creating The Reserve
With their vision for the land becoming clearer, the couple decided to purchase it as, what they like to call, a heritage property. “We negotiated a Conservation Easement for the property with Pines and Prairies Land Trust in perpetuity,” says Bubba. That means, the property will never be subdivided or developed beyond what is within the conservation easement.The easement does allow, among other things, eight residential housing units, that are intended for their children’s use. Three of the Clardy offspring and their families currently live on the property.
The agreement also allows for an ecotourism enterprise. “That meant we could expand the vision from not only our children but our future guests,” says Bubba. By allowing them to explore and experience the region known as The Lost Pines of Texas, just as he had as a kid, they’d preserve the sense of adventure and exploration of the natural environment for generations to come.
A Vacation Destination
The conservation property itself, called GreenLeaf, is about 209 acres. In 2018, Bubba and Jeanne’s ecotourism plans became reality as they bought an initial five acres adjacent to Greenleaf. This became The Reserve. Today The Reserve at GreenLeaf is a 230-acre getaway vacation destination, with yurts (the centerpiece of the property, according to Bubba), glamping, treehouses and more.
Located less than an hour from Austin, 2 hours from either Houston or San Antonio, and 3-ish hours from Dallas, “if you leave any of these cities or any points in between you will have plenty of time to make it here by check-in and enjoy a glass of wine and a great sunset,” says Bubba.
Watch for our upcoming #TravelTuesday on visiting The Reserve at GreenLeaf.
Cover photo courtesy Peter Zuniga Media
Brook Benten Jimenez, M.Ed., a contributing writer to Texas Lifestyle Magazine, is well known for her (mega-hard, we want to die) workout videos. Benten Jimenez’s first book, “Sweat Like a Mother” will be released this year. It’s full of humor, personal stories, and workouts. Follow her at brookbenten.com or on Instagram to stay abreast of details.