A few weeks back, The boys and I rolled north to Mason, TX to go for a rock-climbing trail ride in the JK. Before entering the park for the weekend, we stopped at a gas station to fill the tank and our Jerry can for the ride. While I was watching the dollar dial spin faster than slot machine, and way faster than the gallon dial, a classic TJ pulled up.
When I leave Texas next year, one of the things I'm going to miss the most is the friendly, laid-back attitude of nearly everyone. Kendal is a perfect example of that. He ambled over, complimented my Jeep, and asked how I liked it. Well that's a topic that can really get me going for a while. Even our dogs got along. Mason is a small friendly town, and pretty soon I had met Kendal's wife, and we were sharing stories about our children.
Kendal is a writer, and his work has a definite Texas flair. He has been kind enough to share many of his columns with me. One he sent me this week really struck a cord with me, and he has graciously allowed me to include it here. You can find more of his work with a Google search of his name:
Hope to see you on the trail, Kendal. Without further ado, here are his words:
California or Bust (or both)
What happened was, my brother has to travel a lot for business and such, and he saves up his frequent flier miles. So he told his three boys that, about the time they get out of high school, he would take each of them on a father/son trip, anywhere they wanted to go. So far he’s done two of those trips, one to New York and one to Wimbledon.
Which is where I got the idea to tell my three boys the same thing. Except I don’t fly any more than I absolutely have to, on account of everyone who works in every airport I’ve ever been in hates me. Consequently I don’t have any flier miles, frequent or otherwise, saved up. So I told the boys their trips would have to be anywhere in the United States, and we would drive.
By the time you read this my oldest son, Courtland, and I will be gone on the first of those trips. He wants to see Yosemite ‘Big Dadgum Trees’ National Park, assuming it hasn’t burned all up by the time we get there. We’re driving out in the Jeep so we can do the Rubicon Trail on the way back, and swing by Grand Canyon and see the new Skywalk, and maybe drive a few of the Jeep trails in Colorado.
What I plan to do is sort of write travelogues to send back for my columns while we’re gone. Since we won’t be gone very long, it will probably only end up being one travelogue, but I guess I can finish up when we get back. Assuming we get back. You never know what will happen when you travel to a foreign country like California.
We’ve been planning this trip for some time, and saving up the money it will take. That amount keeps growing, what with the price of gas getting higher and higher every day, but I guess if it comes to it we can stop somewhere and get jobs. So there may end up being more than one travelogue after all.
As I was planning the trip, and thinking about this column, someone sent me an email that sort of made me think about how grateful I should be that I live in a country where I can just decide to make a trip like this and then do it. You can’t do that just anywhere, and the freedom we enjoy in America is really a very special thing, even though we often take it for granted.
The email contains a music video featuring a song called ‘If I Die Before You Wake,’ and it was written by Dustin Evans, Rick Tiger, and Dave Brainard, three American soldiers stationed in Iraq. It’s performed by Dustin, who sounds a lot like George Strait. The pictures in the video are of soldiers in Iraq, some of which you’ve probably already seen in other emails making the rounds.
Every American should see this video, and if you have a computer you can probably find it at either www.flashdemo.net/gallery/wake/index.htm or http://g.dwgsee.com/wake/index.htm or both.
For those without internet access here are the lyrics:
Back home now I know you’re probably sleepin’
Over here it’s the middle of the day
I finally found the time to write a letter
Sittin’ here a half a world away
I heard about all them folks protestin’
As if I really want this war
But that don’t stop me from believin’
There’s just some things worth fightin’ for
Tell everybody that I miss them
And I can’t wait to get back home
But until then I’ll serve my country
And be proud to wear this uniform
And if I die before you wake I pray the world will take
A good look at what God’s given us
That we could only understand everything is in His hands
All we need is a little faith and trust
I want you to know it ain’t too high a price to pay
If I die before you wake
While Courtland and I are enjoying the freedom to drive to California and see big trees and maybe learn to surf and gawk at the biggest hole in America, Dustin, Rick, and Dave will still be in Iraq, along with a whole bunch of other U.S. troops. It’s because of people like them that we can make this trip.
And then I realized that a lot of the money we’ve saved for the trip came from a part-time job I have. I work a few days a week for a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant who spent 20 years serving our country, and then moved to Mason and started a construction business. Without that extra income it would have been really difficult, if not impossible, to save the cash for the California trip.
So I want to say thanks to our military for the freedom to go to the west coast, and to Gunny Chris Dyer for financing it. And Gunny, if I can get one in the Jeep, I’ll bring you back a Redwood tree . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist, believe it or not. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org