Lost in Big Bend National Park

bigbend400.jpgAfter years of encouragement by others, I am ready to put my adventures at Big Bend National Park to print. I acknowledge that memory may change with time. I am relying on others that took part in the adventure to collaborate.

It all began back in 1995. My son Jeff and I had been getting into backpacking into deserted areas and enjoying the challenge. It was a great time for father and son to set aside pressures of the day and enjoy the challenges of hiking in beautiful secluded areas with everything we needed to survive packed on our backs.

For this particular hike, Jeff invited his two friends Mark and Greg. So the four of us loaded up our gear in our Suburban and headed for Big Bend. It was our plan to hike the Chisos Mountain ridge line. We bought the topographical maps for the mountains and looked forward to spending the bulk of our hike on top of the ridge. The uniqueness of hiking the Chisos is the mountain range forms a bowl. One can hike the ridge line in a circular fashion and not have to back track to get back to your starting point.

Claim to Fame

What’s your claim to fame? I had that question asked of me one time in New York City. I was pitching my company for investment capital. I met Mr. Ned Patterson, Executive V. President of Allen and Co. and as I recall their 1st employee. One of the wealthiest private investment bankers in the US.

Ned (as he referred to himself), asked me what my claim to fame was. As I remember, I didn’t really have a claim to fame. He said his claim to fame was having married the daughter of E F Hutton. This was the start of an incredible day and life changing EPIC journey.

ef_hutton_c_1920.jpgCharles Allen: “The firm’s famous annual retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, attracts more moguls than a double-black ski run (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and eBay CEO Meg Whitman have attended). Brothers Herbert and Charles Allen founded the company in 1922.”

Do you want to fish or not?

boat2.jpg My brother, I and our sons decided to go deep sea fishing in Brownville one summer. That is right on the Mexico and Texas border and in the gulf coast. It is deep blue water and great fishing. Much to our chagrin, the shrimp boat captains decided to protest the turtle eradication measures recently passed by Texas legislature. The state was forcing them to cut holes in their nets to let the sea turtles escape. The thought was admirable, but all the shrimp would escape through the same holes.

When we arrived at the harbor to charter a boat, the entire harbor was blockaded by shrimp boats chained together. No boats could enter or exit the harbor. You have to imagine the rough crowd of shrimpers that were manning these boats. The term ‘Salty Sea Dog’ comes to mind.

My brother was determined to get us a charter boat. He started knocking on boat cabin doors. Everyone said they were going to honor the blockade. Then, we found a ornery old cuss that said he’d take us fishing. He said, ‘Go buy 6 cases of beer and bring ’em back’. We said, ‘we don’t drink beer’. He said, ‘you want to fish or not?’ We bought the beer and met him at the boat gas pump. He tossed the beer on the boat and we loaded up.

We headed out of the harbor only there was no way past the shrimp boats chained together. We floated up next to one of the boats and the captain of our charter began speaking in rapid Spanish at the crew on the shrimp boat. It seemed every few sentences included the words ‘mas cervesas’ or more beer and big grins. We tossed a couple cases of beer up to the shrimpers and it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. The chains fell away and the shrimp boats parted wide enough to allow us to pass. The boats then quickly chained up again and closed together.

After boating for an hour or so, we passed flags in the water.

More coming later…..

#3 Life Changing Choices

This will be a challenge to write……..

It is now 7 months later since I came back to this blog post idea and still have not written the blog. I am wondering, is this being insensitive? Is it something I should leave alone or is there value in writing? I think it will be a work in progress for a while.

I’ll start with the characters, but not use their real names.

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#1- “Skater” was a student in the 7th grade(?) Sunday School class I was teaching. I was preparing a lesson for them and ran across the surprising statistic that 1 out of 6 people end up in jail. I had 6 kids in the class that day. I shared with them that likely, one of them would end up in prison. I visited one of the kids the day after his 21st birthday in his prison cell. It was also the day after he accidentally shot and killed someone.

#2 – “Disturbed” was one of the youth in the high school youth group we were teachers in. He was very friendly and treated us respectfully. One or both of his parents were drug and alcohol abusers. My pastor and I visited his apartment to intercede on his behalf one time. A friend even allowed him to move in and live with his family. Later, he made headlines participating in a murder which left the victim mutilated and burned.

#3 – “Silence” was a lab assistant in school. He has since been executed by the state of Texas. I figure it safe to blog about him. He was a great guy. I really enjoyed his quirky behavior and odd sense of humor. Two bad the robbery he planned went bad. That’s how the newspaper wrote up the account.

I wonder about some of the other people in my past. I can imagine some of them could have just as easily become a murderer given the right set of circumstances that would push them over the edge. This sounds a bit like “The Twilight Zone”.

#1 Listen and You Will Hear

Cora and I had drifted from being actively engaged at the local church. The army, child raising and living in Germany had made church inconvenient and not a priority.

Our son was a few years old when he said to Cora, ‘Did you hear what God said?’. Cora wanted to know what he was talking about. Jeff said, ‘If you would listen, you would hear.’ Cora was awe struck. God had spoken a poignant message through our Son. How deep with meaning and timeless in message.

Listen to me … : I am he; I am the first and I am the last”. Isaiah 48:12