Away from the edge

My son Foster flew in to San Antonio to use a couple of days of his Spring Break hanging out with me on the edge. So after Seminole Canyon I needed to work my back toward the North and West to shorten the drive to SA. I ended up in Uvalde, TX (no sign of “back slidin’ barrel ridin’ Rita Ballou”) which is well away from the edge .

How far away is more than a matter of geography, it is a matter of perspective.  Either Uvalde is the northern edge of South Texas, or the Southern edge of the Texas Hill Country.  It served as home to a Vice President (John Nance Garner), a Governor (Dolf Briscoe) and a slightly self-obsessed but nonetheless highly talented actor (Matthew McConaughey).  I was mistaken for none of them during my visit.

Mostly Uvalde seems more normal.  There isn’t any tension.  The natural beauty isn’t breathtaking (although the chalk bluffs about 15 miles outside of town are very nice). It’s mostly a nice small town where guajillo honey and sheep made it big, and where the lack of sustainable market for either is slowly making it different.  There was a time when over half the merino wool in the world came from the United States and of our share, 98% came from 4 counties in this part of Texas – with Uvalde as the sort of unofficial headquarters.  Unfortunately, that time was late 19th/early 20th century.  No one is keeping track of guajillo honey production that I know of.

I spent the night in Uvalde in an RV park. Partly because I have a tent on top of the car it seems a shame not to use it, and partly because I was mildly interested in who is in RV parks and why.  Who is in RV parks in Uvalde, Texas adds another layer altogether. For 20 dollars in a park between the Holiday Inn and a self storage lot, I got a nice shady parking pad under a truly glorious live oak (that is what this RV Park is known for “we are really proud of our trees”), electricity and water hook up, cable TV if I paid extra, and a direct dump to sewage.  Also free bathroom and shower in the main office.  I needed none of the former and all of the latter but there was no negotiating the price unless I had something called a “Big Sam” card, which apparently all real RV people have.

98.67% of the folks here in My new RV home are here for extended periods – many permanently.  But there are no modular homes, only trailers and motor homes. People plant grass and flowers and build decks and put lots of signs that say things like “The Joys, Dave and Dee, Wausapequa, NY” in the space around their trailers. They stay for six months or so, then hitch up or crank up and go to a similar spot in another place.

Ironically, average age is also 98.67.  Well, not really, but I’m 50 and was generally referred to as “the kid with the tent on the roof.” Anyone here not wearing heavily altered orthopedic shoes was wearing safety toe boots and roared in at 5 pm and out at 5 am.  Apparently there is a big business in “jobbing” for various oil and gas concerns around Texas, so welders, fitters, electricians, etc. take a job on a site for 3-6 months, tow their trailer to a nearby RV park and work. I asked if it was good work and it turns out the trained guys make well into six figures.  A “helper” with no experience at all (“my last one didn’t even know how to work a crescent wrench”) gets $21 an hour and a $100 a day per diem. No wonder these rigs are so fancy.

I skipped out on the pot luck dinner in the main office, enjoyed a cocktail in the waning daylight, listened to the birds, including one particularly noisome woodpecker, and called it a night. Tomorrow I get company of my own choosing and head to Big Bend Natuonal Park.  Back to the edge, and away from the commercial normalcy of places where home is where the wheels are chocked.

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