Thursday, April 19, 2018

Legacy Plaza



Goldthwaite is a town in Central Texas. It’s the largest town in Mills County, and as such is the county seat. But still, the population falls well short of 2000. (The 750 square mile county struggles to reach a population of 5000)


Though this town is a scant 10 blocks wide by 10 blocks long and barely has enough people in it to fill a modern movie theater,


somehow they have managed to put together the modern glass and steel Goldthwaite Welcome Center, the Texas Botanical Garden, and Native American Interpretive Center, collectively known as Legacy Plaza.
  
I don’t know how they managed it, I mean there has to be more patron plaques scattered through the grounds than there are citizens in town, but this is an amazing gem tucked away in this tiny town.


The focus here is on the Colorado River 600 to 10,000 years ago.

In the background of this photo is a ring of interpretive panels talking about the life of the people that lived here back then.

To some eyes the foreground might look like a neglected picnic grounds, but what you're looking at is a diverse eco-system of native plants providing a rich, and sustainable, habitat for indigenous fauna.

In between is a creek bed used to collect rainfall off the butterflied roof of the welcome center and feed it into a cistern to support a water-feature that acts as a backdrop to the amphitheater.


A sample of one of the interpretive panels





In addition to the interpretive panels up front, there are others scattered throughout the gardens, some of which include hands-on  projects to go along with them.


Including


this work area for knapping your own flints. Apparently very popular with the kids brought through here in a steady stream of field-trips.

And since no-one was looking (The San Saba Garden Club came for a tour that morning but was gone by the time I got there) I tried a little knapping myself.  (Hint, if you don’t do it right it hurts!)


In addition to an interpretive center, Legacy Plaza has become sort of a community center as well and this large shelter with adjacent bathrooms has been erected in the southwest corner to facilitate that.

The amphitheater seating


All in all, an impressive place and worth a stop if you’re in the area.

Just pull off on the very generous double-wide shoulder of SR-183 between Second and Third Streets and wander on in.




Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Regency Bridge, Up Close and Too Personal!



The day after hiking the Spicewood Springs Trail I thought it prudent to give my bum leg a break.

Oh. Did I not mention I was hiking on a bum leg? Well that’s probably because when a guy gets injured he really wants a story to go along with it, ideally a heroic story. Well I don’t have one and frankly, that sucks!

Instead of a riveting tale of battle with dragons or an incredibly brave, dare I say near impossible, rescue of a comely and, of course, exceedingly grateful maiden, (though just what the hell I’d do with an exceedingly grateful maiden I have no idea. . .) I got nuthin’.

I just woke up one day, stood up, took about three steps, and realized my leg hurt like hell. Not only do I have no idea what I did to it, I can’t even pinpoint when. Other than sleeping on it wrong, which is just - well - wrong in so many ways, the likely culprit is when I was lifting the pieces of Elmer’s porch into the trailer so it could be moved. But we didn’t take him to the airport for another couple days after that and I don’t remember being damaged goods (any more than normal anyways) at that point. And considering how much shit that leg was giving me you’d think I would remember.

 Anyways, by the time I headed out to Colorado Bend State Park I was no longer falling to the ground and screaming loud enough to make dogs run for their mommies every time I tried to put weight on the leg, but it still wasn’t quite right.

So Tuesday morning I left the hiking gear stowed and saddled up The Van for some internal-combustion ambulating instead.


Photo by Sean Lynes

About 25 miles northwest of San Saba (pop 1000) is the little community of Regency (pop ~50). Actually, since the Post Office closed sometime in the 1930’s and the last store in 1971, now Regency is more like a named area, a loose collection of driveways and ranch gates, but ranches were, and still are, an important part of the economy in these parts and the nearby single-lane, wood-deck, Regency Bridge is the only crossing on a 30 mile stretch of the Colorado River.

If you’re not from Texas you’ve probably never heard of the Regency Bridge, but if you’re a Texan the Regency Bridge is semi-famous. In fact it features prominently in the opening sequence of the current episodes of the TV show Texas Country Reporter.

The first bridge here, a through-truss built closer to the river, was built in 1903 but fell down In 1924 under a herd of cattle (and a 9 year old boy). The second bridge opened in 1931, another through-truss built on the original abutments, washed away in 1936. The current bridge, a wood-decked single-lane suspension bridge 403 feet long (325 feet between the towers) and about 80 feet above the river, quite a bit higher than the original bridges, was built in 1939 for $30,000. With the exception of one gas-powered cement mixer, a winch-truck and a steam-shovel it was built by hand by workers earning 30 cents an hour,


and working hard manually stringing the nearly 1000 wires that make up the main cables because there was always someone nearby that wanted one of these New-Deal jobs.


The roads have been readjusted since then and the importance of the bridge faded along with its paint. While not impossible to find nowadays you do have to work at it a little.

From the north there’s a sign for the bridge at the intersection of the paved FM-574 and the gravel CR-433. The bridge is about 4.5 miles to the south.

From the south, just north of San Saba at the intersection of SR-16 and FM-500 (Both paved) there's a sign for the Regency Bridge pointing north down FM-500. But the bridge is not on FM-500. To get there you have to turn off of FM-500 onto CR-137 (gravel).  There is a sign marking the county road, but no sign for the bridge. And most maps don’t identify CR-137 at all, including Google Maps which shows the road but doesn’t properly identify it.

Google Maps would trick you into looking for CR-433, which is identified there on the north side of the river, but the river is also the dividing-line between Mills and San Saba counties, which also changes the name of the road.

Once you find CR-137 it’s not quite a mile to the bridge, but this is a narrow and sometimes steep road so if it’s been raining hard, which is not unknown around here, you might want to walk it first before you get stopped by a wash-out and have to try to retreat, up-hill and backwards.

Both CR-433 and CR-137 are narrow with no shoulders, therefore no place to pull off. The exception is a wide-spot in the road, a sort of pull-out, on the south end of the bridge that will accommodate 2 or 3 cars, but this is not a place you want to be trying to get to with a motor-coach or travel trailer.

There are two private driveways near the north end of the bridge but do not park in them!  It pisses off the landowners.


The bridge is surrounded by private property, which is why this is the best I could do for a side-shot of it.


So did I drive The Van across this bridge?

Nope!    Niet!       No way Jose!!

As you can see, from one end you cannot see the other. The way you tell if there’s a car coming across at you is to watch the cables which will dip and sway as the bridge ripples under the weight of a vehicle. If no dipping or swaying feel free to drive on out there, but only if your gross weight is less than 8000 pounds.

Since The Van comes in right at 8000 pounds, or at least did many years ago when I trailered a load of scrap metal over the scales at a recycler, I decided to err on the side of conservancy and stay off the damn thing!


OK, you’re right, that’s just an excuse. Truth is I'm pretty sure The Van comes in more like 7500 pounds with me in it, but the thought of driving out there in The Van scared the crap out of me.

I know that as a member of the male subspecies I’m not supposed to admit things like that, but it is what it is. Hell, just walking out there with nothing more than the weight of my camera and hat scared me bad enough!


But in order to reclaim some tiny little remnant of my male dignity, sidle on out there one half-step at a time I did.


Of course the sight of one of the wooden supports holding up the guard rail, such as it was, dangling out there in mid-air like that didn’t help quell the fear-factor.


Nor did discovering that this saddle, you know the one holding up one of the iron rods that's supposed to be holding up the deck I’m currently standing on, has slipped a couple of inches down the cable since the last maintenance.


I tried moving over to the west rail and ignoring the major defects over there along the east rail,


but you know what? It’s still pretty damn high up here and you can’t see it in the photos, but the wind is brisk (OK more like a gentle breeze) and there’s definitely some swaying going on!


Ahh, that’s better, something solid.

But wait! Between wind-gusts can I actually hear those cables creaking?!














Saturday, April 14, 2018

Lopsided!




Here I am, innocently out putting the first hikes on my new boots aannnd. . .


At the top of a particularly steep climb I throw myself down to enjoy the view – OK, more like collapse to catch my breath and let the burn in my legs dissipate –  when I realize that said new boots are lopsided! Either that or my left foot had developed a new twist – but, out of loyalty to my foot I’m going with the boot.

The toe-cap is decidedly skewed to the right.

If I let my mind run free it almost looks like the damn thing is winking at me! (OK, I admit that it helps to be out of breath and have burned most of the morning carbs too)

How cool is that! I have a unique pair of boots. At least I assume they don’t manufacture them like that on purpose. . .

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spicewood Springs Trail, Colorado Bend State Park



It’s sunrise! Or at least it would be sunrise here at Colorado Bend State Park (Texas) if the clouds weren’t in the way.

But I’m not going to let a minor thing like that get in the way of the day! Especially since it’s been 6 months since I blew the hell out of my travel budget and had to mothball The Van while waiting for our finances to catch back up again. It’s also the first time since tramping around Illinois’ Little Grand Canyon last September that I have a chance to take a real hike. (I don’t count the one-mile laps around the property as real hikes)

The couple in the FEMA trailer were quiet last night, I slept well, most everybody’s still in bed, and I’m ready to go!!


Today’s pick is the Spicewood Springs Trail way down in the far southern tip of the state park. Not to be confused with the nearby Spicewood Canyon Trail which stays up on the rim of the canyon while the Springs trail stays down in the bottom.



To get to the trailhead I first have to walk south along the Colorado River. Fortunately I only need to cover about a mile and a half of its 862 mile length before reaching my intended trailhead.


Being the second day of April, it’s firmly into spring around here


but still pretty cool in the mornings and on this day of heavy mists tiny little, watery gems are sparkling all over the place.


And this guy was busily foraging. I first spotted him right at the edge of the trail where he was happily digging up an ant-nest. I could tell he was happy because his back legs were dancing while he jammed his bulldozer nose and front feet deep into the nest looking for any grubs the ants might have tucked away in there.

Armadillos can’t see worth crap so I was able to sneak up fairly close, but even so, it took a long time before I was able to get even this partial shot of his head since when foraging they tend to keep their flat-ended nose right down in the ground as they plow along.


Not doing any foraging yet this morning are these vultures roosting in a dead tree across the river. 

They like dead trees because vultures are big and clumsy so leafy branches just complicate things for them. Even from a dead tree, when they launch themselves you’ll typically hear several sharp crack - crack - cracks as their wings slap against branches and each other. This is usually accompanied by a whooeep – whooeep - whooeep as large amounts of air are forced through their flight-feathers as they work to generate the initial lift their heavy bodies need.


Here in Central Texas we mostly see Black Vultures, but this is still within the considerable range of the read-headed Turkey Vulture and here you can see at least two of them mixed in with the Black Vultures.

And yes, the difference extends beyond head-coloration. While Black Vultures are primarily scavengers and lack the maneuverability, speed and silent flight of most  hunting birds (When in flight you can hear a distinctive swish with every beat of their wings from quite a distance) they will in fact hunt some prey, while the Turkey Vulture is strictly a scavenger.


Despite the distractions along the way, including the sheer joy of being out on a trail again, I do eventually get to the Spicewood Springs Trail. As is typical in this limestone country, Spicewood Creek drops its way from pool to pool. The trail attempts to stick close to the creek down here in the bottom of the canyon


but that’s not always possible in the rugged terrain down here so once in a while the trail gets a little scrambley. The Spicewood Canyon trail, staying up there on the rim, is actually less scrambley and is suitable for intermediate mountain bikers, (Which does not include me!) whereas bikes aren’t even allowed on the Springs trail.


In addition to occasionally climbing onto ledges up above the creek,


the Springs trail weaves its way across the creek a half-dozen or so times.  (If you look just above and left of photo-center you can see the pale-yellow rectangle of the trail marker over there on the other side.) At the current water-flow none of these crossings really challenged my ankle-high, waterproof hiking boots, but in this hard country water tends to flow on top rather than soak in, and though it was only sporadically sprinkling on me (With the added bonus of the occasional tap of small hail later in the day) it might be raining harder upstream so I kept a close eye on the water-level.


The reward, as I worked my way up the canyon, was a series of small pools, each one unique and to be lingered over and savored.


This limestone country is riddled with caves and I have to wonder if this might be the opening to one of them. Not being much of a spelunker (as in not at all!) I’m content with just wondering.


Another feature of limestone county is that water tends to percolate slowly through all that porous rock and when it does come to the surface, though it may be loaded with minerals, it’s also crystal clear. This ‘grove’ of thick, fuzzy plants was growing in the bottom of one of the pools.


I spent a long time sitting at the edge of this pool watching 2 inch fish, probably Guadeloupe Bass, darting out of the grove in single file, sometimes just two but often three at a time, all playing follow-the-leader as the first fish, a harassed female, put her suiters to the test by darting around the obstacles in the clear water trying to see if she could shake them off. If she was successful the lagarts would circle aimlessly then eventually drift back into the grove.

Amongst all this frenetic activity floated 4 inch juggernauts, moving nothing more than the occasional fin until it became necessary to defend their patch of pool-bottom from the darting little upstarts.


There was one stretch of the creek, no more than a hundred feet long, with obvious sign of what appears to be beavers, both fresh sign


and old, but only along this one short stretch and I never did see a lodge or dam.


Eventually the creek crosses out of the park and onto private land so the Springs Trail climbs out of the canyon and joins the Canyon Trail, traversing a whole different terrain up here away from the creek.


But in addition to more uplandy type scenes such as this


the sprinkles/heavy mist still painted little wet mini-scenes such as this bowl-shaped web heavy with captured droplets



and these tiny little bedazzled blossoms.


And I think it’s a rule that when you pass by a blooming yucca you have to take a photo of the thick, waxy blossoms. I don’t know what the penalty is for not doing so, but I didn’t want to find out.


When I climbed up out of the canyon I could have turned riverward on the Canyon trail (the dashed black line) and returned to The Van after a little less than a 5 mile hike, but I chose to continue up the Canyon trail which, in another mile reaches the park road. Just across the road is the Lemons Ridge Pass trail which I followed back down to the river about a mile and a half upstream of The Van, extending the total hike out to about 6.5 miles.


Turned out to be a pretty dang good first day back out on the trails!










Sunday, April 8, 2018

Oh, That Can’t Be Good!



 

Just what you don’t want to see pulling into the site next to you. A cheap-ass used FEMA trailer behind a $70,000 truck with a contractor’s generator in the bed!

Because of low standards, questionable materials, potential bio-hazards, little to no maintenance, and hard use FEMA has this rule about only using these two-bedroom temporary-housing units once before they sell them off. But not to the public because they don’t want to take on the liability, they will only sell them in bulk to ‘investors’ who then sell them on, as is, to uneducated buyers.  Sure, these discarded trailers can be picked up cheap, but there’s a good reason for that! They were cheap to begin with.

Notice that the manufactures are so embarrassed about how poorly these things are built they refuse to put their name on them. And since they are designed to be parked cheek-by-jowl with water, sewer, and electric hookups they have no tanks or 12V electrical systems which, along with very few windows (Windows cost money!) and a dormitory style fridge, makes them an exceedingly poor choice as a camping unit.

If you look close at the very right edge of the photo you can see that these particular people set up one of those Coleman ‘privacy rooms’ for toilet and shower function and they carried water from the campground’s single central spigot in open-topped 5 gallon buckets.

Just think of how comfortable and practical a tent-camp they could have put together for only a fraction of what they paid for that useless trailer!

Fortunately this couple only used the generator for about a half-hour twice a day, (to run a microwave maybe?) and left after a couple days.

Could have been a lot worse! Could have been one of those 45 foot, 4-slide, residential fridge-freezer, 400 watt outdoor entertainment center, roof bristling with three antennas and two different kinds of satellite dish coaches that have to run the generator constantly just to say alive.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Tag; You’re It!



As The Wife is heading back to the terminal after shepherding Elmer to the gate and onto his flight she pulls out her phone and calls sister Dale. “Tag; You’re it!”

There’s still a flurry of logistical shenanigans to come at the receiving end of the flight, involving two daughters, one granddaughter, two cars, and a mid-state hand-off, to get Elmer all the way to his destination for the day, but our part of the logistical labyrinth is almost over. All that’s left now is for me to make the white-knuckled journey from cell-phone lot to terminal, retrieve The Wife from the clutches of desperate travelers, over-smiling airline employees and grim-faced, blue-gloved TSA agents, then get ourselves out of this jittery city and back to the quietude of the property.

Oh yeah, tomorrow we also have to retrieve Elmer’s sick car from the hotel parking-lot where we left it, forlorn and sad looking with its coating of caliche dust and a handicap tag hanging crookedly from the mirror, and transfer it, with one operative headlight, completely inoperative windshield wipers, and a dash lit up like Christmas with brake, ABS and skid-control warning lights punctuated by a randomly flickering left-turn indicator, over to the second Ford dealer in a month in a last-ditch effort to see if it can be brought back from the brink. So I guess we aren’t quite as done yet as we’d like to pretend, but for tonight we’re going to pretend because it has been a hectic week.

It’s hard to say when this particular round of Move-Elmer actually started brewing.  (Hey! Maybe we can turn that into a game app and make a fortune off of it!!) It could have had its origins in those two weeks Elmer was without car while the first dealer unsuccessfully attempted to banish the out-of-season Christmas-lights special in the dash, forcing him to walk more than usual or sit in his recliner and brood about the injustice of age-related infirmaries. It could have started just after the car was returned to Elmer when he fell down between the bed and wall, a narrow space, as you would expect in a travel trailer, that had him trapped for a while as he figured out how to extract himself, all of which aggravated his bum leg which was already showing signs of compromised circulation. It could even have started way back before Christmas when Elmer fell into the highly questionable waters of the Bay and ended up with a case of foot-rot that took shelves full of drugstore products to bring under control. Not banish mind you, but at least get it under control enough that people weren’t horrified when Elmer pulled off his caked and yellowed sock to display the mess. (I don’t know if they had show-and-tell in second-grade back when Elmer was working through his 8 grades of school, but he sure seems to enjoy participating in it today. . .)


Whenever it started, Elmer, who tends towards either bouncing between floor-dragging lows or zipping around on soaring highs, started spending more time in the region of the lows, driven there, and into his recliner, by decreasing mobility and increasing pain. When he did finally agree that a visit to his long-time Missouri doctor was in order (Hey, I can’t fault him since I’m also of the walk-it-off school of medicine.) things kicked into high-gear. There was a flight to be booked, (Dale to Elmer, ‘No dad, I’m not flying down there to drive you and your broken car 1200 miles to Missouri!’ Elmer couldn’t see the issue and got into a bit of a snit over that. . .) suitcases to be bought, transportation to be arraigned, and since Elmer, not knowing just how much effort and cost goes into moving the trailer, insisted that he wasn’t going to pay to leave it at the RV park on the off chance he wanted to turn around and come back in a few weeks, there were tires to be bought, (by now both the spare and one of the tires on the ground were flat due to side-wall rot) fridge to be emptied, (Dad, you are NOT going to just leave that stuff in there to rot!) clothes to be bagged and carted off, (No Dad we can’t just leave that stuff here it because it will become mouse-nest material) a slide with a rotted floor to be very carefully nursed into the retracted position, a 400 lb. porch to be disassembled and stowed, and a permit to be bought. (Elmer, who by now in this process is feeling pretty useless, which made him persnickety, in an aside to The Wife, ‘greg’s the only person I know that would mess around with that goddamn permit crap just to move this goddamn trailer to a spot behind Danny’s barn just 8 miles away!!’ Dad, the permit costs $10, the fine is $400. . .’ But that’s OK, because I often got the same sort of comments about my obsessiveness with processes and procedures from my team-members when I was working so I’m used to it. And I’m not saying there’s any direct correlation by any means, but the electrical plant at the office didn't explode until some months after I retired and wasn’t there anymore to insist [OK, nag] that all the checks and balances were kept up with.  . .)

While I worked outside and The Wife worked inside, the two of us prepping the trailer for this move, we propped Elmer up against his car where he could greet the parade of visitors that were dropping in from all over town to say goodbye. While this helped distracted Elmer from his inability to help with the chores of prepping the trailer for its move and his frustration of not being in control, at this point he was feeling low enough that he was sure he’d never be healthy enough to come back again, (‘I’ll tell ya greg’, he says to me, ‘if I’da known I was going to live this long I’da waited until I was 13 to start smoking instead of starting at 5!’) so it was also pretty emotional, and guys raised in the 30’s and 40’s by tough, hardscrabble parents do not do emotional easily.

 On his own initiative Elmer had arraigned what day Ike would be coming to move the trailer over to Danny’s. Since his flight wasn’t until two days later this created a logistical hole that had to be filled. Originally – and repeatedly – Elmer insisted that he could just sleep in the trailer there behind Danny’s barn and he wasn’t at all happy when we kept pointing out the impracticality of that, (no water, no power, the recliner he’s been sleeping in unusable where it’s stowed in the retracted slideout and a whole porch-system taking up any available floor space) and even less happy when he found out The Wife had booked a motel room for him a hundred miles away where it would be much easier for us to entertain him the next day and collect him the day after that for the ride to the airport.

As we watched Ike ease the packaged trailer out of the RV park and on down the road, all the while hoping the slightly rotted old girl would make it in one piece, (it did) we were left standing in front of an empty campsite with three people, one cane, two suitcases plus a carry-on, and two cars. Personally I wouldn’t have minded leaving Elmer’s wounded car parked there beside the trailer behind Danny’s barn, but there were two issues with that. Even in his current basement state-of-mind Elmer wasn’t ready to give up on that damn car yet, (When checking in for his flight The Wife said ‘Dad, show the agent your driver’s license.’ The agent, unable to help himself despite hours of expensive customer-service training, blurted out ‘He still DRIVES?!!’) and with our car stuffed full of compressors, jacks, tools, and garbage bags of Elmer’s leftover personal belongings (You don’t throw Elmer’s stuff in your car unless it’s well bagged and sealed, even after it’s been washed [well doused in vinegar, double-dosed with soap, and on a 2-hour wash cycle] let alone dirty like it was, unless you want the interior to smell like the bottom of an old ashtray!) there was no room for Elmer and his two suitcases, one carry-on, cane and assorted leftovers in our car.

This is why I ended up driving Elmer’s car, along with Elmer and his luggage, on the two-hour trip from campground to hotel-room. For the first half hour I was struggling to reach the pedals. I’m not a tall person but I’m certainly taller than Elmer so I couldn’t figure out why the damn seat was so far back, nor could I find the seat-controls and for the first part of the trip Elmer was in a ‘mood’ so I didn’t want to ask. Eventually I managed to find the damn seat controls (For some reason on the Grand Marquis the 6-way electric seat controls are not on the side of the seat where everybody else puts them, nor are they under your left hand along with the lock and mirror controls. Instead they are on the door just behind your left elbow where you can’t see them when driving.)

Getting the seat moved forward helped with the reach-the-pedals issue but did nothing for the stink. I’ve never been a smoker, so I don’t have the excuse of the reformed smoker for my sensitivity to cigarette smoke but I can sniff out a lit cigarette from a 100 yards away and the residual stink of nicotine and old ashes is enough to make me feel like I’m choking. Elmer is good about not smoking in the car when there are non-smokers there, but, short of driving with my head out the window, I have to have the driver’s and rear-passenger window down to generate a fierce cross-breeze, yet I can still feel that residual poison oozing out of every surface in the car and creeping into my lungs. And the transfer isn’t limited to air-to-lung either. After hanging onto that steering-wheel I can’t wait to give my hands a surgeon-style scrubbing.

Fortunately it didn’t rain (Remember, in addition to needing the windows down there’s no windshield wipers) and both Elmer and I survived the trip. As we’re getting him settled into his room (During which The Wife hovered and fussed to the point where Elmer finally looked at me and said ‘greg, please take your wife home so I can get some rest.') The Wife took me aside and asked how he was during the trip.  She wasn’t actually asking after Elmer’s health or state-of-mind, she was asking if I was ready to choke him yet.

I have this theory that children of aging parents have this vestigial anger, or maybe frustration is a better word, no matter how far back in their sub-conscious it resides, this ‘how dare you devolve into something other than my parent’ or ‘how is it fair that I have to take care of you now’, that adds to the challenge of dealing with an aged parent that the in-laws, the wives or husbands that married into the family, don’t have to deal with. I think this is why I, definitely not a people-person, certainly not a nurturer by nature, can deal with Elmer without the stress levels The Wife experiences.

Anyway, by about the halfway point of the trip Elmer got over his ‘mood’ and was talking almost non-stop, which is normal for Elmer. True, I’ve already heard pretty much every story of his at least several times by now, but I don’t mind that so much. After all, life is not one continuous story, one constant movie-shoot. Most of our lives are – well just life, the mundane and the ordinary, it’s only once in a while, sometimes once in a great while, that our lives go from just loafing unremarkabley along to shooting forward, like a short-lived spark ejected from the fire, into something that will eventually become a ‘story’. The result is that each life creates a finite collection, a limited number, of stories, and since we measure our lives by our stories repetition is inevitable, so I don’t begrudge Elmer his stories, though sometimes I do tune him out because I already know the timing of the proper responses (Oh yeah? Hum. Wow!)  but on the whole, listening to them doesn’t bother me all that much. Hell, listening to them gives me a story of my own to add to my meager collection. Now I can tell the story of how many times I had to listen to Elmer’s story!

Anyway, the next day was taken up with driving him through the hills, (No hills down there on the coast where he's been since November.) lunch, naps, and the final packing. Then it was off to the airport first thing in the morning. We stopped along the way a couple of times to let Elmer get well stocked up on nicotine and coffee because, with all his other issues at the moment, he certainly didn’t need to add withdrawals to the list!



When we got to the airport Elmer had his door open before I could get stopped. (Was it something I said??) He heaved and huffed himself out one side with his carry-on case and cane and The Wife leapt out the other while I popped the rear hatch. Elmer insisted on getting in the way of the Wife trying to extract the luggage to the point where the lowering hatch hit her on the head while she was trying to sort out luggage and Elmer, (Fortunately she had pushed the lower-button herself so that couldn’t be blamed on me!) and then they were gone.

No goodbyes or nothing. I don’t know if Elmer will be back, if I will ever see him again. Based on how he looked and felt at the time, probably not, but then again I’ve seen him bounce back before so if he does recover enough to return it won’t be a huge surprise. (A lot of work getting that damn trailer back into its slot in the campground, but not a surprise.)

In the meantime I’m doing my part in this logistical mambo by waiting in the cellphone lot.