Three Miles to Tarpley, Texas

About three miles east of Tarpley, Texas on FM-470, you drive through a cut.

As you crest the hill, you see a ribbon of road before you, and this means you’re close to Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery.

[My photo at left and Google’s one-up on mine at right.]

“Why,” you ask, “were you driving through a cut waiting to come upon Mac and Ernie’s in about three miles?”

For starters, Tarpley is one of those small Texas towns — really, one of those towns everywhere across America between L.A. and New York — that have no stop signs and which you pass through without looking much at them. And that’s a pity.

Karen and I drove through Tarpley in June 2020 on our way to Utopia, Texas. (Who wouldn’t want to drive to Utopia?!)

We had a competent lunch there, and on our way back I stopped to take the above photos at Williams Creek Depot dancehall and live music venue. I learned the other day that my in-laws knew the town well. Pre-COVID, the dancehall probably saw a lot of two-stepping. You know, that bodily function where you are pressed against another human being and there are sounds coming from a raised platform of people blowing spit at tools that augment those sounds, and you and your partner of the opposite gender have controlled vertical seizures with said bodies and many others in a circle around a dance floor. And you do it all in rhythm with those spit-sounds.

It’s glorious.

It’s called living.

Another way to live is to enjoy (responsibly) a catfish platter at Mac and Ernie’s.

CONS

I might as well be upfront about the negatives, because they are so few:

  • The restaurant is open only Fridays through Sundays. This is not a COVID thing. This is a no-stop-sign remote-area thing.
    • And it’s also a COVID no-pressed-bodies-or-tool-spitting policy thing.
  • So there are maybe four tables open inside, and then picnic tables out back. Which, to be honest, I kind of love — the idea of sitting outside under a large live oak tree and eating food. It’s like Central Park without having to take the subway from Brooklyn.
[Art by Kenny (Key) Cavalieri’s, circa 1987. Yes, I do in fact believe it is art.]
  • The catfish “platter” is catfish plus french fries. I don’t call that a “platter.” I call it “catfish and french fries.”

PROS

  • But… you do get four pieces of catfish.
    • And, oh my gosh, let me tell you about the catfish. Listen, I’m not a catfish aficionado, so catfish is catfish to me. One eats from the bottom of Lake Pontchartain and another eats from the bottom of Lake Livingston. All of them spend time at the bottom, so I actually want the breading to make me forget that.
    • And that’s the beauty of Mac and Ernie’s catfish: the breading. It is delicious in itself, but it’s light enough that you can’t use the fish to finger dip or scoop your tartar sauce. The fish will gently flake apart. You have to break a piece off and with your fork scoop some tartar sauce and smear it on. And the fish is piping hot. From now on, all other catfish that can I can scoop with will be feel like I’m eating a Lilliputian’s shovel.
  • I got a side salad, and it was worth the $2. It had greens, red cabbage, goat cheese and a deliciously light and tangy balsamic vinaigrette. That, frankly, was unexpected from a restaurant in a no-stop-sign town. You buy a fountain soda and, of course, there are refills. In New York, your server asks you, “Would you like another?” In Texas and most civilized states and towns, you are asked, “Would you like some more?”
  • The decor is funky.
  • The orders are placed on an overhead metal conveyer belt like you might see at a dry cleaner or assembly line, carrying the chits around to the staff member. The chit clip has a yellow metal cow on it.
  • The restaurant was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” and there’s a framed photo of Guy Fieri on the wall.

A lunch for two set us back about $24. These days, that’s nothing. With a 25% tip — we would all do well to tip even more than that these days especially — the hour’s drive, wonderful in itself, was well worth it.

[House adjacent to Mac and Ernie’s. Of course there’s a sign right under where I stood to take this photo about dogs that might bite. No one who posts signs about their dogs ever writes, “Please pet them.”]

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It’s enough

The Ford F-150 is doing just over 55MPH on Bandera Highway heading toward town, and I’m feeling the baritone noise of hot Texas air coming in through the driver’s side window and the angled quarter glass, because sometime after the truck’s purchase in 1988 the AC went out and the rancher who drove it before we got it in 2018 would probably have scoffed at spending hard-earned cash on a luxury like cold air in the summer or hot air in the winter. “What’s that?! Cash for something you can’t even see?” is probably what he’d tell me if I were to muse aloud to him.

The scene — me behind the wheel, right hand gripping at about one o’clock and left hand wrapped around the metal divider of the valence window — makes me think of riding in Poppa’s beige station wagon in Rhode Island in the late ’60s. He’d taught mom to drive, and mom had taught me in Tootsie’s Mercedes Benz. The Mercedes always at least a box or two of chocolate Carnation breakfast bars in the trunk that Tootsie would eat after a round of golf, but my younger brother and I would eat them on the down-low. After all, our grandparents were rich. Weren’t everyone’s?

Poppa drove the three miles from the house on Spencer Avenue in Warwick — the house with a backyard like a waterfall practically down to the bay — to the farm, which was technically in East Greenwich, just over the demarcation line (the thoroughfare appropriately named Division Street). On that brief ride, we’d pass the “ghost house” on the right. The story was that you could still hear the sword of a fallen Revolutionary War officer clank down the long staircase on some blustery winter nights. I could imagine it, with trepidation, and I didn’t have enough doubt about the veracity of this claim to not think that Poppa was pretty badass just to know this. If he’d had his way, Poppa’d be taking out that phantom with his .30-06. He one he used to bring down moose and bear in Canada. No 18th century rebel in threadbare leggings would be his match.

So we’d drive and I’d hear The Beatles, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” come on the radio. We’d listen to that 2-1/2-minute song, and when it was over, I’d still be leaning out of the front passenger window, my six-year-old frame almost half over the side, belting out the chorus:

I wanna hold your ha-aa-aaa-aaaand,
I wanna hold your haaaaaaaand!
I wanna hold your hand
!

And sometime after the tenth or so time repeating the same chorus into the New England summer wind, Poppa would reach over and gently pat my back.

Filterless Camel cigarette wobbling from his mouth, he’d say, “I think that’s enough.”

No title, just a dream

The corner of Schreiner and Hays Streets in Kerrville, Texas.

There’s a building–pictured above–that has been somewhat of a dream of mine.

Like most dreams–whether of people, places or things–it is unlikely to come to fruition. Not only because I lack the skill set to make it happen (“skill” including the capital) but also I don’t have the immediate motivation to create it as I do to dream aloud of it.

But unlike many other kinds of dreams, my pondering it, ruminating over it, letting my eyes caress the details of it, this dream seems to be a socially acceptable thing, and so I’ll write about it.

The lot is up for sale, at least it was until recently. When I passed by last week, I didn’t see the Brinkman Commercial sign on it. If it’s sold, my dream still holds.

Here are its features:

Artist’s rendering of new Broadway Bank building. SOURCE: The Daily Times
  • A corrugated metal structure, which I’d keep, though I could see it getting hotter-n-hell with the material heating up in the summer. There must have been a decent cooling system there before, so I’d leave that to the engineers and architects to figure out. All I know is that the corduroy effect is a pleasant one to my eye, and it’s not the ubiquitous limestone or sandstone.
    • Even the new Broadway Bank building on Main and Sidney Baker, though its smooth exterior emits a nice modern effect, has a homogenous beige façade that reflects the primary demographic of its account holders.
  • The east side, on the corner, has a ~20 x 10 foot slanted roof “shack” that appears snapped onto the larger building almost like a LEGO piece. Lacking much light, that would need to be remedied if it were to serve as the retail place I would hope it to be. More windows of course, but maybe even a large skylight, since the harsher afternoon light might be partly shielded by the main building, or could be designed to be.
  • The two sets of huge sliding doors on Hays must stay. They are fabulous.
  • There’s a dirt and scrub lot to the south–the left of the photo where the trees are.

What would this whole building and lot be used for?

It would be a coffee house/artists’ maker space/retail shop.

It’s a block away from the newly renovated H-E-B. It’s two blocks up and one over from Pint and Plow. Therefore, it’s within walking distance of other frequently visited locations.

I may be unfair in my distinction here, but describing locations as how many “blocks” away from each other they are is a pedestrian measurement system. Drivers measure distances in time: 1 minute, 5 minutes, “about a half hour” away. Time in a car means nothing to a pedestrian, who walks about 3.5 to 4 miles an hour (if brisk). I knew exactly how long it would take me to walk twenty blocks in New York City, and there was never any “traffic” to speak of. Even meandering clots of tourists didn’t require me to slow down or be fined for speeding in a Work Zone.

Granted, places like Fredericksburg have most of their walkable area on the main drag. But it seems that the city of Kerrville will be stymied for economic growth–not only by not having additional businesses here but also the accompanying population growth of younger families that bring vitality and tax dollars–until we string together more areas to which people can walk and walk between. Again, Fredericksburg has proven that people will walk around in Texas in the summer. Consumerism, after all, makes us do crazy shit.

The inside of my building there on Schreiner and Hays would feel open and airy on the inside. It would keep the trusses exposed and perhaps have large fans pulling the hot air up and out. Convection? I’m purely speculating here and throwing around multi-syllabic terms to sound more informed.

You enter off Hays, through those sliding doors, which are open most of the year and create additional air flow. Much like Pint and Plow, there is a bit of outdoor dining in front (along Hays), and then most dining and drinking happens inside. Maybe some happens in the lot, which is cleared out, with those cool-looking light bulbs hanging from trees strung across the area. Picnic benches allow us to enjoy the climate most of the year (like Pint and Plow or Hays City Store).

As you walk through the main inside area, off to the right (the west side of the building), there is an artists’ “maker space.” Here, artists of various kinds can paint, do metal work, sculpt, etc. Maybe there’s a plexiglass divider to cut down on noise. Or maybe there are times that quieter creation (painting, jewelry design) can be done during dining hours, and other art (metal work with welding, carpentry with table saws) that’s done after hours. That space is rented out.

The neighborhood is mostly commercial, but there are some residences, so to keep the nighttime noise level to a minimum its license for live music would be limited to acoustic.

The retail space on the corner would sell merchandise like Pint and Plow has, branded around the space. It would also sell some of the local art made on site. And, of course, it would sell what seems to most people as a square peg in a round hole but, for me, is an essential: snap shirts.

I know.

Seems a bit random.

But without the snap shirts, the whole project just doesn’t come together for me.

The return to Texas — Part 1: Mescalero

On Monday we drove the nine hours from Ruidoso, New Mexico, back to Kerrville.

The most direct route was of course how we’d driven there the previous Monday and was actually 8 hours and 22 minutes on paper (see here what I mean by “on paper” in a digital world), but I wanted to see another part of Texas, which would lead us down through the Mescalero Reservation, then skirt El Paso’s northeastern edge, and run along the U.S.-Mexico border for what appeared to be 20-30 miles before landing us back onto I-10 — one of the main arteries of American driving.

(I thought I-10 would be boring; I was wrong. But that’s for another post.)

So that’s what I wanted to do, and I proposed the alternate route to the family. But since the proposed drive was forty minutes longer than the most direct route — ten minutes longer than what I thought was an acceptable delta — I lied. I said that my detour — the reasons for which I explained as important to me, so at least I was candid when it came to my self-interest — would be only about “a half hour” difference.

Monday night at 9pm as we reached Junction, Texas, (we’d left Ruidoso about 10:30am and lost an hour crossing from Mountain to Central Time) about 70 minutes from home, my middle son complained that I had to stop for one final bathroom break. After I chided him for making a fuss over a half hour difference in routes (well, forty minutes…actually 38 minutes according to Google!), I also reminded him that he didn’t have the prostate of a 57-year-old man.

I was speaking into a gale.

London, Texas. A developer has purchased this building on the “main drag” (where there are no STOP signs) and plans to turn it into a boutique B&B.

My further intent with this route was to be able to perhaps snap off a few photos along the way. Lately I’ve become enamored of the sagging and even dead architecture and industrial matter one sees along roadsides and in decaying towns. Perhaps it makes one feel more alive: to see dead things.

Other than a pale rouge building in Ozona, Texas, with its windows busted out and some cream colored curtains blowing through them toward the street, like soft sobs over departed tenants — a building that didn’t take a good picture — other than that, I was locked to the steering wheel, and after about Hour 5 was often reminded of my detour. There even came a point when the three-member crew came near mutiny and claimed that I hadn’t asked their permission. This was patently false: when I lied about the longer route — because even writing here I call it a “detour” when in fact I like to think I was exposing everyone to an “additional exploration” on our return trip — taking 30 minutes longer (as apposed to 38-40) and asked them if I might take this route out of my own fascination — to wit, “to please consider indulging me” — each family member in his or her turn consented. There was a bit of grumbling, a bit of neutrality, even apathy, but consent they gave. I held them to that.

I’ll admit to being a bit of an ass about it, but since I’d arranged the whole trip and did most of the driving to and from and most of the cooking while there, I figured that my indulgent request was less a matter of gaining consensus than of exercising divine right. Operative word: “ass.”


The Mescalero Apache Territory, just south of Ruidoso, sits at 6,611 feet. I mention that because it felt like we were driving uphill for a while from Sudderth Boulevard and Route 70 in Ruidoso, where the altitude was 6,900. A couple of us admitted our ears were popping.

But this census-designated place — that’s a thing: “CDP” for short, meaning it’s a “place” only for the purposes of counting heads, of which there are about 1,400 — had gained some notoriety in the descriptions of it by my oldest son, who claimed that when white people ventured uninvited into that territory, there were reports of said whites being scalped.

I struck back, “Surely you’re kidding.”

“Seriously!” he said seriously.

“Where did you see a report about this?”

“Well…I’ve heard people talk about it.”

Ah. Well. That settles that.

It had sounded a bit too on the nose: like the next detail he’d describe would be how they’d whoop and dance in a circle around a bonfire, or perhaps around a King Ranch edition Ford truck, with what was left of the family of four from Highland Park who simply were looking for some turquoise earrings and hand-woven rugs but took a wrong turn after their ears popped and they became disoriented.

What was undeniable, however, was the seeming isolation and even poverty as we came over the ridge and passed Apache High School. Perhaps much of the housing on either side of the highway was set back — in fact, a number of dwellings were; I say “dwellings” because I could see only steep gravel driveways leading from Route 70 West up into the pine tree woods but no buildings; I have no idea of detail beyond “dwelling” — but what was visible from the road was sparse and generally disheveled. Tools and equipment lied haphazardly in yards. Run-down siding protected the interior of buildings from the winter snow. Vehicles like faded ornaments dotted the space between road and trailers.

I tend to give Native American peoples a pass when it comes to not more aggressively or obviously bettering their station in life. That statement alone has so much white-person baggage and bias that in many circles it’s worthy of scalping.

Perhaps I “infantilize” them, as today’s phrase bandied about by white conservatives is applied to black Americans who are part of the Black Lives Matter movement. But much like black Americans brought to this continent against their will and treated inhumanely for centuries, so indigenous peoples already here were unwitting hosts who saw their across-the-pond relatives — for we are relatives, that is undeniable — arrive and offer not gifts to be received and enjoyed without strings, but make deals with them that were outside the realm of their cultures and therefore entered into naïvely. Not even naïvely, but blindly. For these same white Europeans who duped them would be the first to cry “foul” if Martians came — or, shall we find a different and distant planet to draw aliens from, since Mars is kind of a done deal now and waiting for its first Musk-Virgin-Braniff Hotel — and made an exchange in the Martians’ favor that was completely beyond our cultural experience and wisdom to understand. The only reason we whites justify what we’ve done is because it hasn’t happened to us. Yet.

Perhaps my difference in thinking about indigenous Americans and blacks brought from Africa is because I have seen a black man become president, another become a Supreme Court Justice, another successfully lead a Fortune 50 company, and one of my closest black friends become a doctor and then retire at age 50 — 45 even. Now a black woman has been put forward as vice presidential candidate because it’s one party’s sense that this is the best or even only way to win: to put forward a black person as that party’s champion. It’s not affirmative action — giving a leg up to someone who needs it — it’s action that says, “We need you. Please give us a leg up.”

That’s different.

It’s welcomed.

Perhaps the news leaves out more than I can imagine. But when was the last time I heard anything at all significant about native peoples? When have I heard any descendants of the Lenape Tribe demand reparations for, or simply inalienable squatting rights on, the island that was craftily manipulated away from them by the Dutch and then maintained at a healthy distance from them by the English? Certainly, some Lenape great-great+-granddaughter has an opinion on what has become of her ancestors’ beloved Mannahatta? They didn’t even want to “possess” the land, since the land never gave her permission to be possessed by any people, let alone by an uninvited people who offered the equivalent of $24 for it.

So it was over this unexpectedly ear-popping ridge we drove, through the Lincoln National Forest until we reached US-54 south at Tularosa.

We left behind us the set-back homes of the Mescalero Apache and the “sacred land” of Geronimo, whom the Mescalero website describes as:

…highly sought by Apache chiefs for his wisdom. He is said to have had supernatural powers. Geronimo could see the future and walk without creating footprints. He could keep the dawn from rising to protect his people.

MescaleroApacheTribe.com

We white Europeans do create footprints, footprints that tend to be indelible.

And yet, for Europeans like me, who have lamented and confessed yet done nothing to redeem the past, those footprints may be washed away by the waves lapping against the shore, but they also are remembered by the ocean.

An immodest proposal

As someone from the “Island of Many Hills” — a rough English translation of the Lenape word “Mannahatta,” I tend from time to time to “go off the reservation.”

This is one of those times.

I love Kerrville. Except for about now.

k5It is 95 degrees warm as I write. And the only shady spot to sit except for inside PAX, where I rented a table for 3-1/2 hours for a delicious coffee and a deliciouser roast beef sandwich (with roasted red peppers, jack cheese, and honey dijon mustard — alas no horse radish — is on a metal bench next to the ATM in front of the Schreiner Building facing Earl Garrett.

I left PAX and walked past the comfortable diners under umbrellas at Franciscos. On Friday they’ll be having the restaurant’s famous chiles rellenos. Today they’re enjoying something else good. But that was not my mission.

My mission was to walk over to the Daughtry Pavillion overlooking the Guadalupe River. The beautiful Guadalupe River. The bountiful, the accessible, the sometimes floodable, but always enjoyable Guadalupe. I wanted to see that Guadalupe from on high. Maybe do a phone call from a bench overlooking that Guadalupe.

Nothing doing.

Closed.

Not sure why, so I Facebook Messengered City Hall. They’re usually good about replying pretty quickly.

So I walked along Water Street, recalling fondly many times sitting at the benches looking out at the street. Well, construction at the Arcadia closed some of the way. No problem (so far). Then I noticed that shop after shop had moved or closed. The only thing open (maybe?) was Humble Fork. And only one, and dusty, bench looking out at a guy moving sheetrock with a forklift from one pile to a second.

OK. Time to get resourceful.

(It was at this time, Dear Reader, that I’d decided to go off the reservation.)

To walk through the Schreiner Building and kick up some dust of my own. A forklift might come in handy.

It was no surprise to me that inside the Schreiner Building — inside the COOL, air-conditioned — did I mention “COOL”? — building, there is copious space. Doing. Absolutely. Nothing. Except being walked on and through and waiting to be rented. Exhibit A (see photos).

After snapping said photos and feeling oh-so-righteous, I found the one bench I knew of in the shade, the one I’m sitting on now and which has a perfect view of PAX and the air-conditioned interior I enjoyed not 15 minutes ago. (Maybe it was more like 30 minutes… I’ve stewed in my juices for half the time since leaving.)

So my recommendation is this: City / Downtown Kerrville / Merchants. Derive a way to use either interior space or sidewalk space in the shade where pedestrians can sit and think positive thoughts about being downtown when it’s in the mid-90s. Because if y’all don’t, we’ll just get in our cars and make traffic on I-10 and not along Earl Garrett and Water Streets.

Stewing finí.

Call me

IMG_7267

Call me.

That’s what I say to the Owner of this white Corvette, parked on the right along Junction Highway just shy of Woodlawn as you travel north.

Because more than wanting to know the price, I’d like to know why it’s been sitting there since I moved to Kerrville one year ago tomorrow. I mean, she’s a beaut.

Just sitting there.

Maybe it’s the lack of a phone number. But you’d think that the Owner would stop by now and then to check on this cream puff.

I just want to know the story behind it.

So: call me. You’ve got my number.

Maybe.

Some colors

IMG_0216

It caught my eye Sunday–a latte-colored station wagon crossing Sidney Baker toward Lowe’s. Good thing we were headed that way anyway, because I was intent on seeing it up close.

It pulled in to the lot, and I pulled around near it to park. That is, I circled the entire lot until an SUV next to it pulled away so I could park right here.

“Is this creepy?” I asked the person riding shotgun. There was an inaudible reply.

She–Inaudible Shotgun Person–went into Lowe’s to do some actual good for the homestead, while I took a photo of the vehicle, a Chevy Nova wagon, white roof and a rain gutter, which would be perfect to affix surf racks onto except that I wouldn’t want to lessen its sleekness. (A Chevy Nova…”sleek”? Yes, sleek.)

A bumper sticker read, “RIDE OLD BIKES.”

The glass was flat and had a Mediterranean blue-green clarity to it. I half-expected the driver to be a sea turtle.

teal wagon

I saw a car today on Bandera Highway heading in the opposite direction, so instead of trying to take a photo out the driver’s side window doing an apparent speed of 90mph away from me–that’s not advisable, right?–I found online what was roughly the color of it.

Some colors should be kept around simply because they’re cool.

The passing of time

Driving from Kerrville through Fredericksburg (to Austin, for work yesterday), there’s a shed that’s fallen in on itself on the south side of Friendship Lane, about a hundred yards shy of the First Baptist Church, followed by the Walmart, both on the left.

The shed looks like a sleeping drunk grandfather on a late Saturday morning: his A-shaped tin roof, rusted auburn, hinting at a once-glorious head of hair; his siding, like teeth, missing every other slat, letting the horizontal 2×4″ beams show; and a rusted metal mesh across the front that reminds me of a bathrobe whose sash has come loose and exposed yellowing boxers and thinning legs.

Yet with its all its weakness, this barn now belongs right there, at that roadside settled within a brief stand of trees that serves as an old leather armchair. It’s bothering no one and, obviously, no one’s bothered it for some time. It’s been ignored to “sleep it off.” It would seem almost wrong for a work crew to show up now and start dismantling the mesh, siding and roof.

He will return to his ancestors soon enough.

Peacefully.

There is a realtor’s sign not fifteen feet to the left, however.

An unwelcome alarm clock.

Left turn onto Thompson Drive

My last post was depressing to write and, what’s worse, it rambled and contained various non sequiturs. It read back to me like a 7-year-old explaining how a car engine works. Starting with simple observation and ending with the entrance of a superhero. Or something like that.

Speaking of which: defective headlights and Kerrville Police.

Last night, I got pulled over twice in the span of 20 minutes for a unbeknownst-to-me defective headlight (‘knownst to me, of course, after the first stop). The previous time I’d been pulled over was in May 1994, when I was speeding at 2am somewhere in North Carolina heading back to Atlanta after my friend’s wedding in Philadelphia.

But last night, we were picking up our middle son after he had dinner with his girlfriend at Chinatown. They were going for a walk in Louise Hays Park, and coming from the west, I was making the left off Sidney Baker South to Thompson. I was in the middle of the intersection and the light turned yellow, which is when I usually take the left, but a car that should have stopped at the opposing red ran it instead. (After multiple morally-gray turns like mine, I’m pretty sure the lights turn red simultaneously. Maybe this instance was different.) I made the left on red. A police cruiser who had stopped opposite me–and who I thought for sure would go after the absolutely morally corrupt red-light-runner instead turned behind me. On came the blue and red flashing lights. I was certain he had tagged me for the left turn; this seemed inescapable.

“Where do I pull over?” I asked my passenger, who is a native of these parts and yet was as stunned as I.

“Go down into the park.” Since we were heading there anyway.

I did, and pulled into the Loading Zone near the fountains. At this point, I kind of wished cars had the ability that dogs do: to roll over on their backs in submission to a Bigger Dog.

“What do I do?” I asked The Passenger. Meaning: do I put my hands on the steering wheel like in the cop shows, so that I don’t get shot or tased. I mean, really, last time I got stopped, I was 31, still drunk off the fumes of a weekend wedding celebration, and carefree. In 1994, I was trying to see what my red cape looked like when flying behind me at 75 mph. Last night, I didn’t know the protocol. The dance. Do I roll down my window first or wait for him to tell me to? Important moves like that.

The Passenger intoned: “Put the car into park and roll down the window.” We’re talking Violation Primer here. I shut off the engine.

Long story short: it was a defective headlight, and we got off with a written warning. After the paperwork and the apparently necessary confirmation of my weight–“Um…187. No, wait, 188.”–we were on our way.

With our son now in tow and telling him that story, we turned once more to Sidney Baker South headed toward Bandera Highway. Round about the top of that hill by Rio Robles, we had yet another Lit Up Police Cruiser behind us.

Again, my question, this time more annoyed than stunned: “Where should I pull over?” She indicated a small parking lot to the right.

I pulled in and put the car into park, ignition off, window down. I was Level 2 now, about to level up.

The officer approached, and I noticed he was a different person from the first officer who came to my window in Louise Hays. I looked back at him, hands still on the steering wheel. (I’m telling you: I’m not jeopardizing my Level 3 status with lazy dance moves.)

He smiled. “You already got pulled over tonight for this, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Yeah. My colleague just told me. No worries. Y’all have a good night.”

Just like that.

The lesson?

Level 3 is easy.

It’s Level 2 that’s the bitch.

 

Decidedly, a problem…

…When you want to work for an hour from a coffee spot and there’s nothing on this side of the Guadalupe except Denny’s and you don’t want to take the trouble to go across.

Clearly there is a coffee business in someone’s mind called “West Bank,” “Left Bank,” or even “Rive Gauche.”

Kerrville is ready for this.