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Welcome Back to Texas

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

May 31st - June 7th

We all made it across the border into Texas!!! They took our plants and put them in the trash. They let us keep our avocados even though they said we couldn’t bring them into states. They never asked about our cat Gypsy. We brought her all the way from Zipolite. She decided it would be cool to be our traveling cat and jumped on board the day we left the campground, Los Angeles Hotel Rancho los Mangos. She has stopped at 15 locations in Mexico, the first one was a gas station (Pemex). She’s a great traveling cat.

While we were waiting 45 minutes in a very long line of traffic at the border, I called for a campground. I did a google search for RV camping near Laredo because we had a long day of driving and just wanted to stop. Crossing the border is always a little stressful. The first place, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park said there were still closed per COVID rules. I asked where he suggests we go for the night and he said we could stay at the rest area/visitor center 15 minutes down Highway 35.

It had a large parking area with covered picnic tables, grass and an open field to the train tracks. We saw a lot of different birds that we enjoyed watching while we ate our gourmet dinner of peanuts and beer. Gypsy popped out to look around and approved of her new home. The visitor center was closed but the bathrooms were open and some lovely gardens, a small pond with turtles and a fountain with coins! We all explored it around. I collected the change from the fountain as Larry took a video telling me to stop it because they had security cameras. We took turns tossing the coins back in and wishing on each one. We kept track of the points assigned to each level and I won, hands down!

Much to my happiness, the train came up and down the tracks all night! I actually do love this. I have decided that if and when I settle down, my town will need a train at least twice a week. I actually slept great and we were off early to Tow, Texas where my childhood friend Rian Reese lives on Lake Buchanan. We are going to stay here for a week or so. We called Hi-Line Resort way before we left Mexico to make sure they would be open. We also thought we would drive from the border right to Tow but were exhausted.

I’ve been friends with Rian since 6th at Old Adobe Elementary school in Petaluma, California... my Hometown. We only went to school for one year until she moved to Cazadero which seemed like another state when you are 11 years old. Driving from Petaluma to Cazadero is only about an hour. I have done this scenic drive on a lazy afternoon but as a child that’s impossible so we became pen pals. Remember all those cards and wrapping paper we had to sell for our school fundraisers, well that actually was useful during these years of my life. This is probably when I started to love writing and sending cards. Funny...I even wrote a 6-page story on steno paper about “Kathy and her magic skateboard” about my friend Rian. My 6th-grade teacher, Mrs. Schmidt liked it and said she sent it into someone that published kids books. I don’t know what happened with it but I still have my original copy from 1975.

Rian moved around a lot but we kept in touch until she visited me in California in 2015. Now I was heading to Tow to visit her on the end of our Mexician adventure or the beginning of our American adventures...however, you want to look at it. I was super excited about the campground she found for us and it was only 5 minutes from her house in Buchanan Village. When we were talking on the drive to her house, she offered to marry us while we were there. She’s an ordained Minister. Larry and I actually gave it some thought and decided that would be awesome.

After we set up our trailer and took a quick look at our new home on the lake, we went to Rian's for dinner. She made us a fabulous pasta dinner with salad and wine. Yum! While we were visiting, she did 3 loads of our laundry. What an angel, Huh? We talked about all kinds of stuff like her remodel of her “new” home. She told us we needed to get a marriage license at the courthouse in Llano, the next town over. We could do that on Monday. We all were going to celebrate her mom Judy’s 80th birthday on Saturday 6/6 in Georgetown. I liked the date 6/6 too. She said that her mom and step dad’s house would be a perfect place to get hitched. They had a beautiful backyard and we could use it after her party. We had a great night of wedding planning and catching up.

We did chores in Llano on Monday. Rian works from home which is great and we planned on popping over during our time at the lake. We went to the courthouse and got our marriage license. The process went fairly quickly and is good for 60 days in the state of Texas. That should do it. It cost only $72. We walked around the little town with lots of brick and stone buildings. I love towns like this. We looked for a restaurant to get some lunch. We found a coffee shop that was only partially open and he directed us to the 2 good restaurants that were open in town. Either La Hacienda de Jalisco, Mexican food, or (booners) Texas BBQ. We chose Mexican food since I’m still a vegetarian and BBQ didn’t interest me. I was able to get both Larry and I appointments to get our hair fixed. Apparently, some folks think he needs a haircut and mine needed some highlights. It had been way too long! We also did some exploring of the Llano river and train station. We saw a nice big snake but I was unsure of the kind and didn’t take any risks.

We did some kayaking on Lake Buchanan which is a good size lake. Rian has kayaks so one day we all went out on a longer adventure. People were super friendly from the gal Stacey that checked us in at the Park to the other guests at the campground. There was a swimming pool we took advantage of a few times and we walked around to see the deer, birds and a better view of the lake. I was very happy to see one of my favorite birds in abundance, the Red Cardinal. The weather was perfect the whole time we were here too. If it got too warm, we went to the water or inside the airstream with the air conditioner. Lol

Larry and I tried to catch lizards but they were just too fast. I resigned myself to attempting to catch them on my camera because that was our only chance. Our neighbor to our left looking out to the lake, Terry, worked at an oil refinery. I think he drove trucks around and worked 6 days a week from 5:15 am till almost 7 pm. He goes home on Sunday to visit his wife in Austin. He lives in a small trailer at Hi-Line until this job ends. Interesting lifestyle. On our right, Larry commented on this man, Ray’s swing and they became fast friends. Ray keeps his trailer at the lake all season and comes on the weekends and holidays. It looked semi-permanent. He had a newer trailer, outdoor furniture, BBQ, and 2 boats(one ski, one fishing). One evening while Larry and I were eating outside, looking at the lake and relaxing, he came to visit us. He obviously had been drinking the whole afternoon and we heard his wife say as he left, “Don’t go next door and bother those folks!” He told her he would do what he wanted and there he was. He immediately started on the most outrageous monologue of racist beliefs vomiting out of such an ignorant southern man from the bayou. At one point, he asked Larry, “You got a gun, right?” He was shocked when Larry said no. He talked less than 5 minutes about guns, N@##!@!, riots, COVID, and I was out. I do not converse with drunk bigots. I went inside with my dinner and A/C plus I still could see the lake through the window. He got the hint and left. Larry didn’t want to listen or have a debate either. It was the most shocking thing I had ever experienced.

We went for a drive one day to Fredericksburg. It was a real tourist destination with stores with souvenirs, western wear, and restaurants with Biergarten. I’m not big on shopping but was glad to find this cool place called the Auslander to have a bier or zwei with some yummy fried mushrooms and calamari. The waitress and greeters had masks and tables were spread apart at least 6 feet. COVID rules. I was surprised at the lack of distancing on the streets especially into the stores. I saw a few folks wearing masks but not many. Much to my unhappiness, we were not able to hike without reservations at the state parks. We tried to go to Enchanted Rocks Enchanted Rock State Natural Area because it’s a featured outdoor tourist destination. We didn’t have reservations, who knew? For an outdoor hike. They even limited the number of reservations or folks getting to hike each day by less than 10% of a normal day. There would be no chance of hiking here during the time we had left…..but shopping and eating at a restaurant was magically ok. Still having a hard time with this rule.

We thought we should call and tell our kids that we were getting married on Saturday. Much to our surprise, the reaction wasn’t as joyful as we thought. Since it’s both our second marriage, we didn’t think anyone would want to attend. There was no chance of anyone coming especially at this crazy COVID time with borders being closed to nonessential travel. At this point, getting married on Saturday seemed like it would cause more sadness and the energy around it slowly faded. We talked for the next few days and decided not to go through with it. I was a little disappointed but I didn’t want to be selfish. Rian understood but still was sad she couldn’t marry us!

Lake Buchanan is so peaceful and beautiful. We spent many evenings down by the water watching the sunset. Sometimes, we just sat out at our campsite because we had a great view of the lake and the sloping grassy hill where we watched the deer in the evening. We were sitting there on one of our last evenings when our neighbor to the left, Terry, came home from work. He chatted with us and eventually pulled a chair up to have a beer with us. I think I was having margaritas…I had several too. We were enjoying his company when a handsome older man pulled up with his shiny green golf cart and said hi. He was super friendly and he sat in his cart to talk with us for a bit. I told him that I loved the birds here, especially the cardinals. He asked if I had ever seen a painted bunting. No, I haven’t. He said he gets one at his feeder every morning. He lives at the top of the hill overlooking the lake. I told him that I needed to see it. I proceeded to invite myself and Larry to his house the next morning at 7:30 am….and I asked for the coffee to be ready too!!! His name was Bob and he said he’d be waiting for us. We said goodbye. I set my alarm so I wouldn’t forget. I had too much to drink.

We walked up the hill to Bob’s house. We both had admired it as we passed it each time. It’s a remarkable place and we got a full tour with our coffee. I never did see Bob’s Bunting but We both got way more from our visit with Bob. His house is beautiful. He custom-built it and told us stories about where all the wood, rocks and stones came from, mostly from his property. He has an inside waterfall, a huge window-ceiling to the floor that faces the lake, and his home is simply decorated with a western theme. He had an awesome stone patio in the back with big shady oak trees, an outdoor fireplace and living space complete with TV. On his front porch facing the lake, he had all his bird feeders. I saw cardinals, finches, and hummingbirds galore! He also has a deer feeder under a tree close by so he gets them in the morning and evening. His home had all the good light and energy that exuded from Bob. Then he told us he was turning 80 in a few weeks. We were shocked. I would have guessed him to be in his 60’s. Bob is so full of life and is enjoying every little bit. It’s contagious too. I was so happy and interested during our visit….coffee time lasted 3 hours! I figured he must need to do something else, so we finally excused ourselves. I did tell him about my book of stories and he was interested in seeing it. I thought we might see Bob one more time before we left….I was hoping!

Saturday morning both Larry and I got all dressed up to go to Judy’s 80th birthday party. Rian was going to drive us to Georgetown which was very nice. We both got to be Looky Lou’s. This was going to be our wedding day…….but we were still super happy to meet Rian’s parents, Judy and her step-dad, Michael. Judy’s sister, Elizabeth came from Houston and brought matching clothes to be twins!! That was sweet. Rian’s daughters, Stephanie, were there plus Hanna,(Michael-partner) Lauren, (Lindsay-partner), and grandkids Elliot and Sam.. Everyone was super nice. Some of her kids wore masks and some folks practiced social distancing. We spent a lot of time in her backyard. I wish I would have taken more pictures inside Judy’s home. She has it decorated so nicely. It’s a kind of exotic contemporary design. It’s hard to explain but they have traveled all over and have many treasures tastefully displayed. I felt so comfortable and welcome. They were neat people, just my like my friend Rian! We really had a great time.

We got back to our campground early, before 7 pm. Rian and I said our goodbyes because we were heading out early in the morning. I promised to stop by again when we were in the area. I told her to get her passport current so she could come to visit us in Canada…..maybe this summer or next. Soon after she left, our new friend Bob drove up in his green cart and said he made a peach cobbler...but didn’t have all the right ingredients so he didn’t know if it turned out good or not. He offered to let us be his guinea pigs…..of course, we would try it. I got to ride in the front seat with Bob up the hill while Larry sat in the back. As we rounded the turn, I saw at least 25 deer in his yard!!! I screamed of course, out of sheer excitement and unfortunately they mostly all ran off. I had never seen that many deer in one place at a time. It was truly a magical experience. The cobbler surprise was amazing!! Bob’s secret ingredient to most of his desserts is adding Rum chata liquor to them. I gave Bob one of my books and he said he’d donate some money to my charities. C.O.T.S and The Living Room(LINK). He also shared a sweet book that his daughter had made for him. Bob, Bob, Bob!! So many cool stories and so much fun!!! He drove us back at a reasonable hour.

We got up early to head toward Arizona to see my daughter and her boyfriend Riley. As we were driving up the hill, we paused and I took one more picture of Bob’s house. I kinda wasn’t ready to go yet but I promised to see my daughter and I was already over a month late. Here we go…...more adventures and more interesting folks to meet!

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Creigh Gordon
Creigh Gordon

Too bad about the painted bunting. My son the birdwatcher describes them as looking like something colored by a kindergartner.

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