By Dana Delgado
BERTRAM — Twisted Ranch may have gotten its name from the winding road leading in and the aged oaks that grace the grounds, but it’s the unique way or twist of serving up happiness in an old western town setting that has brought it much acclaim as a foremost wedding and reception venue.
It’s so charming that Frommer’s Travel Guide named Twisted Ranch as the top wedding venue in the state.
“They didn’t come in and tour the ranch nor talk to me,” said owner-operator Tricia Adams Pool. “I found out later that they had been guests at a wedding reception and loved our place.”
On Feb. 11, Twisted Ranch will host the Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce’s “Chamboree”. Featuring a catered dinner, drinks, live music and a silent auction, Chamber members and guests will have the run of the ranch for a memorable evening.
Tricia and her husband have attended to every detail at Twisted Ranch with a distinctive creative style that is not only warm and inviting, but enchanting.
“We’re a little different and feel that a tour of the Ranch helps people see what is here,” said Tricia. “Once they visit, the exquisite craftsmanship and striking accents sell the venue.”
The intangibles, however, like the extreme and personal steps taken to take care of the guests, have proven to be a major key to the venue’s success, according to Pool.
An array of western-style buildings in truly rustic elegance are strung along a road giving it that old town feeling nestled in the peaceful Hill Country woods. These buildings, however, are not facades. They are functional structures of various sizes that offer a variety of amenities.
The largest and central building is the 9,000 square foot Twisted Saloon, a spacious and fully equipped reception area.
Across the road from the saloon, an outdoor chapel awaits the wedding party while a quaint wooden chapel constructed to hold indoor weddings sits next to it.
Down the road near the ample parking area is a smaller but smartly decorated reception room enclosed in an interestingly designed barn-like building that can comfortably accommodate up to 150 guests. Adjacent is an outdoor kitchen.
Up the road are a variety of living quarters including the Bridal Suite and Groom’s Cabin with plenty of amenities in western charm.
Nearby are an old country store, a cabin, and a jail designed for photo shoots.
While marketed as a wedding venue, Twisted Ranch has hosted Christmas parties, retreats, vow renewals and host of other gatherings since it became a public venue three years ago. Originally, the family built the cabins for family retreats and celebrations and charity events.
Because of their love for animals, the Pool family has collected and cares for a variety of animals including a llama that loves jelly beans, a miniature donkey, goats and horses. They also have taken to raising bison.
For Mrs. Pool, who grew up in Ohio with a single mother who struggled to provide for the family, Twisted Ranch has been far more than just a business. It’s been a labor of love, a creative outlet, a success story, and a sense of comfort and belonging. For her, building a business has been about building relationships, friendships. It’s also another major step in her life’s journey.
In public school, she had always been an honor student and had been heavily influenced by a television series of her time, “Quincy Adams M.D.” who happened to be a coroner. It was a career she was determined to achieve even after graduating from the University of Minnesota with Bachelor of Science degree.
Her college dean tried to dissuade her from pursuing her career plans and suggested she do an internship with the college.
“I hated it,” she said.
From there, and eventually with her dean’s blessing, she left for Dallas where she earned a degree in Restorative Arts and Embalming and went to work for the next 10 years with some of the biggest funeral homes in the metroplex.
“I connected with the families,” she said. “There weren’t many women in the field and women have more compassion. I loved it and felt like I belonged there.”
It was in Dallas that she met her husband whom at first she didn’t even want to date.
“He brought me all kinds of things but I just didn’t want to go out with him,” she said. Finally, she relented but it had to be a simple date. Eventually, they got engaged and then unengaged before finally marrying. After giving birth to her first child, her interests in becoming a coroner changed.
“My hormones changed and I always cried for every family,” she said. “It was difficult. It was different.”
After moving to Austin, she dedicated herself to raising her kids before becoming involved in supporting various charities. One of the charities was an orphanage in Argentina, which the Pools helped fund. Unfortunately, the orphanage was forced to close down because of escalating violence and instability in the country.
After years of coping with a variety of episodic illnesses, some debilitating like Lupus, Tricia Pool felt pain like she had never felt before; although, some previous illness bouts had taken her down some dark paths.
Hospitalized for 10 days as doctors tried to find the cause of her excruciating pain, Mrs. Pool learned in November 2015 that she had transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of one level of the spinal cord.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports on www.ninds.nih.gov that “about one-third of people affected with transverse myelitis experience good or full recovery from their symptoms”, but adds that making predictions about individual cases is difficult.
“Doctors told me that I should not be alive and that I was the longest living known survivor of the disorder,” she said. “It’s shrouded in mystery and there is no known cure. The Mayo Clinic agreed to study me and raise awareness.”
Rounds of chemotherapy followed along with a host of medications, but they all left her in a deteriorating state that she didn’t want to be in so she sought relief from holistic medicine.
“Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who got me the help I needed,” Mrs. Pool said. “He has always been my rock. I love him so much. I still get chemo every six months because my symptoms can reoccur and I can be paralyzed in minutes. Someone up there is looking after me.”
She said she is also thankful for the countless others supporting her.
“This business has not only brought me clients, but hundreds of friends who are praying for me,” Mrs. Pool said. “It helps me get through it. I know I can survive it. It starts with an attitude.”
On this day, like every day, Mrs. Poole met a stranger who became a friend, raised awareness of a rare disease, and helped others with their struggle while building memories for those just beginning or those celebrating life for whatever reason. For her, Twisted Ranch is far more than just a business.
Twisted Ranch is located at 7345 South Farm to Market 243 in Oatmeal, only minutes from Liberty Hill. For more information visit www.twistedranchweddings.com. The ranch is open only by appointment.