Our road had become a driving hell of creek bed, ripple-waves, and projecting rocks

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Yesterday morning we measured just over two inches in the rain gauge. The tire gashes I made two weeks ago in the newly rebuilt and graded road filled right up. In no time these will develop into familiar holes that always existed where we park at the ranch houses. The smooth landing hiatus was nice while it lasted.

For more years than I’m willing to admit we have needed to do something about the ranch road.  From the front gate to the houses it had become a driving hell of creek bed, ripple-waves, and projecting rocks. No car could make the trip and new pickups went very slowly along the tops of canyons and crevices. We drove all visitors in by pickup and about halfway up the road most conversation turned into gasps.

My old pickup, 28 years young, was the only vehicle that took the road in its stride, but I frankly think its death in Sissy’s driveway last August was the result of toiling up the road. During the preceding months things had been breaking — doors hung looser, the crankshaft freely moved, and the firewall was disappearing. The pickup seemed to be baling-wired together despite many visits to the mechanic. Then, one day, it lost all its oil in one final streak from Sissy’s gate down to its final resting place. Heartbroken, I cleaned it out and called the wrecking yard man to come get it for salvage. The contents from under and behind the seat were decrepit things that tend to keep one’s mouth shut.

To repair the road we turned to a neighbor who brought a huge tractor with a box behind to capture road base that escaped as run-off. We planned to put a week’s work into rebuilding the road and since it took him only one morning to fix the worst part, he had the rest of the week to concentrate on the science of rebuilding. He put in several large bumps at intervals to move rainwater off the road, and he found the material within a few feet of the road. That box brought it right back onto the road. Every evening the dog and I drove up and down the road packing it down. Sissy and the hunters did their parts, too. Instead of a 15-minute plunge and twist to the front gate, we now make the trip in a calm five.

Only the creek crossing remains to repair. Too much flood water has hollowed out a large drop-off, and our several heads are working on that one. We have theories, but none are perfect yet. A bag of cement went into the water at the creek’s edge last week. It was free to one of the hunters.   That theory is in the testing stage.

A night of rain caught me parked downhill at the houses. I didn’t think I’d have trouble going uphill and over a bump the next morning but the new pickup skidded sideways going up the slick surface. I had to back off, gun the motor and run at top speed, but even then I went through not over the bump. Mud shot up ten feet. It took a pickax to scrape the bump back together.

It felt like getting a first dent in a new car to see the gashes in the road again.

— Bebe Fenstermaker

Hogs!

I was strolling around the yard a while back when lo and behold right out in front of the spring house was sign of hog activity. They were plowing up the ground and shoving dirt and leaves around like a farm field. I realized then why Stella would start barking at all hours of the night.  In past wet years hogs had come into the yard to enjoy wallowing in the water from the spring. In addition, they would root around in the soft, moist soil. I remember going out early several mornings with a flashlight to chase them away. There was always a lot of complaining as they left.

One morning, a couple of weeks after the discovery in front of the spring house, I happened to glance out the front window. To my surprise a large black blot was just a few yards outside the front door, a beautiful, shiny coal black hog. I quietly stepped over to the door and greeted it. Up shot the head, and with a snort it wheeled and shot back down the trail headed towards the creek.  Bebe thinks it is one of two that have been visiting her at the ranch.

A friend and I recently drove out west to the mountains. Along the way we saw what turned out to be the most spectacular wildflower display of the entire trip. Without a doubt, Kerr County beat all the other counties we passed through. The further west we went the dryer the landscape looked. When we turned south at Toyaville, however, the sight of the mountains ahead was breathtaking. I cannot help looking around at as many of them as I can. Needless to say the vehicle strays, bringing my attention back to the road. My passenger has gotten used to that, but always offers to drive so I can just look.

We spent a couple of nights in Fort Davis enjoying the cool evenings on the porch and the crisp mornings. The night sky was inky black and filled with stars as always. We spent one morning sorting and packing objects and moving furniture. Our one side trip was to Alpine for lunch and

a visit to the two artists co-op galleries. The drive out of the mountains early in the morning is always spectacular, even if sort of sad.

— Sissy Fenstermaker

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