Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Turning the Corner

Sitting in Fort Davis, Texas in an Airstream rocking from 60 mph wind gusts and then enduring a dust event that reduced visibility dramatically and made one think of what the settlers endure, we confirmed that for this trip, we’ve gone just about far enough west. We had thought about New Mexico (no plans for Arizona with their craziness) but opted to head 250 east to Junction, Texas where we are enjoying a small quiet state park called South LLano River.

It’s a big hunting area (in deer season) and the hills are dotted with hunting blinds and jeep trails. The deer are plentiful but very small, even by Vermont standards. This area is also host to nearly a thousand wild turkeys who roost here every year along the river. Roosting areas are blocked off during nesting season but the turkeys come out to forage every day and are lovely.

Yesterday we went to town for some needed laundry and groceries and for me, a haircut. I love these little Texas barbershops -- this one was owned by a good ol’ boy who has been cutting hair since 1950 -- that’s 61 years. His shop on Main Street is festooned with all sorts of photos and memorabilia and he was great fun to talk with -- and a good barber. No politics or sports -- just local history.

He and I found that we had a thing in common -- we had both served aboard the U.S.S. Hancock, CVA-19. He was aboard it as a barber during the Korean conflict and told me some interesting stuff about the installation of the steam catapults. (I had over 200 cat shots off that ship 15 years later.) He told of how the “Limey engineers” (the Brits developed steam catapults) help install them and how the ship spent nearly a year test firing them -- shooting cars and trucks into the waters off San Diego -- before they tried planes. It was a good visit and good haircut for ten bucks.

The local supermarket -- a Super S -- is the only show in town. This western chain, according to my sources at the park office, comes in and buys up the competition and then charges what the traffic will bear. One of the rangers told me, “Most folks go to Kerrville for groceries.” Knowing it was a ways off, I asked the distance. It’s 55 miles one way.

When I told him that I was continually amazed at the distances people in Texas drive for most everything he said, “Heck, when you can go 80, it’s only 45 minutes.” (And I-10 speed limit is 80.)

We decided to shop locally -- we’ve got plenty of driving ahead of us. Goliad tomorrow.

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