In front of Baublit in the late afternoon

My nearby meeting yesterday evening wasn’t starting for twenty or so minutes, so I wheeled my car into a diagonal slot along Water Street, in front of Baublit Jewelry. (What a great name: Baublit. Reminds me I need to name this $650 Ford Contour before it gives up its ghost. Since each day driving it seems to be its last, and since I feel grateful to have it another 24 hours, I think she will be called “Grace.” Maybe Gracie, to make it a little more personal. Gracie it is. Also one letter different from the Italian for “thank you.”)

I watched the traffic go by, but in reverse to the other morning. Instead of some cars going from south to north and others going north to south, some were going north to south and others were going south to north.

This activity was ok for about 3 minutes.

That’s all I have on this.

My “friend,” the criminal?

Let’s just say I have this “friend.”

This “friend” may have caused a car accident this morning on the way back from dropping off “her” kids at school, not that I’m claiming that my friend is a woman. Or a man. (You know? Gender liquidity and all.)

But this is the first time this friend has been party to an accident in less than two months of living in Kerrville. (Which, by the way, I learned from a local realtor is named after a man who pronounced his last name like “car.”) Further, this friend’s spouse–wife, husband…I shall not detail here–was almost hit one day after buying a car, and this friend learned this morning that his spouse was almost hit last night.

(Let me make this clear for Legal Reasons. This “friend” did not “cause” the accident detailed herewith, nor did this friend’s spouse cause either of the aforementioned near-hits. Both parties are completely blameless and should be noted only for their courage, good citizenship, and all-around bad-assness in humility.)

So this friend was returning from Tivy High School, driving NW on Golf Avenue (see diagram below) and preparing to make a left onto Washington Street.

scene of accident
source: Google

(By the way, why did I include this larger map? For you non-Kerrvillians, there are some local sites to point out. Upper left corner is the Kroc Center, where we have awesome swimming in the summer. Toward the middle center is Tivy Stadium, where the high school football team plays, and it really is like Friday Night Lights. So fun. Lower center left is Kerrville Vape Station, one of several vape locations serving our population of 27,000 residents and none of which I have visited or plan to but which form a source of curiosity to me about who would go and choose to breath in another person’s pomegranate mist. Almost directly in the middle is one of the Dairy Queen’s here…they call the DQ logo the “Texas stop sign.” Upper right is Dollar Tree, where everything really is a dollar or less. And of course the municipal golf course, which I’ve played a few times, including one time during the pouring rain on my wedding morning with all my groomsmen and male out-of-town friends. Ten hungover guys (except me) driving golf carts in the rain. Picture that; the course has some hills.)

So I–I really typed that…crap; I mean this “friend”–was making a left turn, safely and legally and morally uprightly situated in the turning lane. Blinker on. Registration current. Carrying no drugs of any kind. And there was a downright shitstorm line of cars coming SE on Golf Avenue, blocking the left turn. My friend was second to turn. Finally, there was a break. The car ahead of my friend turned left, so it was my friend’s turn next. A pick-up truck took the opportunity to turn left onto Golf, which was actually not his right to do–it was my friend’s right coming off a more major road; Washington has a stop sign there. But pick-ups rule, and the mofo turned. So be it. My friend is serene these days.

Here’s where it gets dicey.

My friend sees that the break is still there but the shitstorm is coming again. My friend–being a pretty damn nice person; in fact, there should be a medal somewhere given by some obscure group for the peculiar kind of niceness…no, the special kind of Kindness and warmth and emotional vulnerability exhibited by my friend toward strangers and small animals–my friend, seeing the approaching shitstorm, decides to wave along the next vehicle making a left from Washington onto Golf, since my friend would still have time to make her/his left onto Washington.

See?

Everyone makes their lefts, my friend gets an award for Peculiar Kindness, and the world is a better place for a few hours. That’s what was supposed to happen.

But what actually happened is that the waved-on driver took the left from Washington onto Golf without apparently looking far enough down Golf to the right to see if traffic was coming, my friend finally took a left after the Kindness was depleted and, hearing a loud and sustained honk, my friend now on Washington looked in the rearview mirror to see two cars converging at their sides and then heard a loud bang.

What to do.

Well, if it were me, I always ask myself: “What would Superman do?” Superman would fly around the world so fast that it would reverse time itself and the cars would go backward until just before the crash occurred. Different decisions would be made.  The butterfly effect. Christmas is saved. “God bless us everyone!”

My friend is discrete, though. S/he turns their car around and goes back to the drivers involved, who had now pulled onto Country Club Lane (again, see diagram, where you can also find Taco Casa, which has big-ass sweet teas, and Tractor Supply Company, which I myself am dying to go into just because).

My friend identifies themself as the driver who waved onto Golf Avenue the car that apparently took my friend’s wave to mean “the coast is clear and my Kindness is sufficient.” To make matters worse, my friend had jumped into the car earlier that morning with the nearest clothes available, comprising Adidas jogging pants, a gray fleece pullover with holes in it, and semi-dress leather shoes and no socks.

This sartorial display, along with their $650 car, brought into question my friend’s blamelessness.

And that, my friends, means that while one can fight for “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” it’s also true that one should turn off a major road onto the road that has the stop sign and let the sucker there wait a little longer until the shitstorm passes.

$27.56

The forecast was decent — low to mid 80s and partly sunny — so it seemed like a good stand-up paddle boarding afternoon. I stopped in to see Corey, the owner of Kerrville Kayak & Canoe, and pick up a rental board.

I asked him, “It’s first-come-first-serve down at the river, right?”

“There’s no riverside rental today. Everything’s going out of the shop.” He explained that next week there’d be regular riverside rentals (as there was last week, during spring break); it’ll be after Easter and closer to the “season,” as it were.

I told him “fine,” and I mused aloud about finding a way to transport the board.

“Haven’t you heard about the ‘redneck roof rack’?” Given the rhetorical question, perhaps I looked less urban than I felt. “You take two swimming noodles and a couple ratchet straps. Get ’em all for about thirty bucks.”

“So…how do you tie it down?”

“You open all your doors, run the straps around the board on top and through the car interior, and then shut your doors.”

I was OFF!

Went down to Gibson’s. Noodles were on the end cap of the first aisle behind the main register — I picked two purple ones to pimp out my $650, 20-year-old Ford Contour — ratchet straps and bungie cords were on aisle 12.

“Only bankrupt addicts walk, Dad.”

I was doing my laundry at Super Wash Industrial Laundry on Sidney Baker a few weeks ago, and I opened the door to the restroom–it was unlocked–to of course avail myself of its utility. A tall, very slender woman was already in there.

“Oh!” I started. “Excuse me!” She was looking at a small compact mirror. I quickly closed the door.

A stout young man–who I later I learned was 35 and claimed he had “several businesses”–spoke up and said, “It’s a shame when they let themselves get that way.” Meaning women, and meaning this person as one example of many women. Apparently, my quick gander at her in the bathroom was not long enough to notice that she was one of literally a handful of homeless or under-domiciled people I’ve seen here in this city of 27,000. She spent the next 20 minutes in the restroom, where I learned she often spent her days. In addition to her–whom I’ve seen as early as 7am walking along Sidney Baker and as late as 10pm at the corner of Main and Sidney Baker just staring off to the South–there’s the older man who rides a ten-speed bicycle and who, I’ve been told, sings opera behind the public library (I think I heard him the other day when I was walking in Louise Hays Park, across the river); there’s the man in a blue hoodie, tan coat and shorts who will take a long drag from a cigarette and then yank away the butt like it’s just bit his lip; and there are maybe two or three others I see regularly. I’m sure there are more.

Walking… Riding bikes…

“Everyone” drives here: in 2015, 82% of Kerrville households drove to work by themselves (U.S.: 76%); 5% of Americans took public transportation; 0% here did. Three percent of Americans walked to work, and 2% of Kerrvillians did! (Insert smiley face emoji here on iPhone version.) The other good news is that while almost 4% of American households own five or more cars, that’s true for only 1% here (89 households). In fact, once you get past the proverbial two-car household, Kerrvillians own fewer cars on average than Americans elsewhere.

My middle son almost had a fit when I mused that I might buy a bike to get around instead of a car; “Dad. DAD! No one does that but homeless people. Don’t!” (Unless, he later added, I was on a serious racing bike, wearing workout clothes, and made myself appear to be training for a triathlon all the time.) Walking is tantamount to declaring bankruptcy, addiction, and moral uncleanliness in one fell swoop.

I have to say, I was tempted.

But “Mike,” the young man, decided that because I had 27 minutes left to dry, he would launch into a soliloquy on his view of women. Whom to date, whom to marry, and how it’s a crying shame that women disqualify him as a boyfriend based on his driving a brand new Ford truck rather than, say, a Lexus. I had work to do on my laptop, but his stomach blocked my escape.

I can walk from where I live to downtown Kerrville in 7 minutes. Probably take 10 to get back, since it’s uphill, with a beautiful view west and north. The Garden District. My rationale in choosing this place was that if my $650 car decides to give up its ghost–and I’m not sure this puppy still has a ghost to give–I could still get to work, the grocery store, the river, etc.

And over the past month, I’ve seen a lot of people walking. It’s just a matter of where to look. A friend of mine has a Fitbit and a company-wide competition as to who can walk the most steps each week. He’s quite the active walker, but finished only fourth during the week he told me about it.

Even in this car culture, there is a lot of outdoor activity, year ’round. I’d hazard a guess, as much activity here if not more than in New York City (especially if you cancel out the walking-as-transport factor), where being in an office is equivalent to your car here. In New York, if you don’t inhabit a corner office at least 30 stories up, you are considered morally unclean.

IMG_0016
Filling my tank with dinosaur bones at the Exxon on Bandera Highway and 534.

 

P.S. Happy Independence Day, Texas!

Employee Discount

It would be a great vehicle to use for camping. Or fly fishing. Or, as one New Yorker used it for: surfing. He used to park it in the same place on West 11th Street near 7th Avenue. I’d walk by it and admire.

A Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

Great, that is, if I camped (haven’t since a family wilderness experience in April 2017, and that didn’t count; before that was 1985 after graduating college), or fly-fished (never; well…as a boy I’d go with my grandfather, but he’d fish while I ate Dunkin’ Donuts), or still surfed (I now live in south central Texas, but there is a man-made wave park in Austin that I’ve surfed). My point is that the Grand Wagoneer seems to be the ultimate sportsman’s vehicle (again, that is, if I were actually a sportsman and not a foodie who likes to use hair product from time to time).

Problem is: Grand Wagoneers are not cheap.

I’ve been driving by Wagonmaster on Memorial Boulevard for nigh 25 years since first coming to Kerrville, and when my in-laws lived over on the grounds of the VA Hospital (where my father-in-law was a surgeon), and have developed a growing and gnawing desire for one of these beauties.  To take camping again, to try out fly fishing with, and even to strap my surfboard to the roof rack and drive the two hours to Austin’s NLand Surf Park, the 17 hours west to Blacks Beach in San Diego, or the 25 hours east to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina (dang, I really do live in the middle of the country), and hit the God-made waves. But the lot’s inventory is a bank-buster. And it’s not that these vehicles aren’t worth it: the owners take low-mileage, well-kept autos, and they restore them.

Maybe I’ll go apply for a job there and see if they offer a 90% employee discount. That would bring one into my budget of under $6,000.

IMG_0007
Wagonmaster on Memorial Boulevard. ~7:45am. Sunrise was at 7:04am. This business was featured in the Kerrville Daily Times‘s “Hill Country Culture” magazine.