Out of Dodge

Last Sunday not only did Michelle, Handsome Gus, Cooper Brown Dog, and I get on the road as quick as possible, but by the end of the day we were out of cell phone range for 7 days and 6 nights. No news, sports, politics, phone calls, status updates, TV, radio, or internet. No offense to anyone, but by Sunday evening we were pretty darn happy to be 100% disconnected from civilization.

Except we did bring some civilized things with us like fishing poles, 2″ thick top sirloins, artisan coffee and conical burr grinders, and a few liters of Texas made whiskey. Ruffing it does have its limits is what I’m trying to convey here on the getting away from civilization topic.


Click on Picture to Fill your screen with wonder

When I pass by this river canyon I simply pause and think to myself, “Holy crap, would you look at what God made”.

I headed out for a place that I am familiar with. It is a place that my dad, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great grandfather were familiar with as well. They all took their families here for summer vacations. We are very fortunate to have such a place on The Frio River.

We’ve kept it all fairly rustic since our camp was founded in 1917. There’s just a land line phone for emergencies, and critical sporting & weather event updates. Wireless media devices don’t work here. We kind of like it that way.


When I was a kid, dad drove a giant Buick because his job required that he carry samples in the trunk of the car for showing clients on his road trips. This was so he could book orders for Catalina ladies sportswear and swimwear. When that  vintage 70’s Buick would hit this particular dip in the road your insides would feel all silly. That’s when I knew that we were getting close to camp. Of course, we weren’t wearing any seat belts or anything, so we were probably fortunate that the dip in the road didn’t cause me or Greg to bounce out of a window or something.


These days, with modern day vehicle suspensions, in order to replicate that goosed belly feeling I have to take that dip and turn at 75 MPH as opposed the posted suggested speed of 45. But shit man, that feeling is part of the flipping trip for me so that’s how it goes. I’d rather be splattered up a limestone canyon than miss out on that memory. 60 MPH will actually do the trick if you’re feeling timid about it all.

Once off the highway we wind our way down a lonely gravel road that The Frio River washes over every now and then.

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When the car eases across these crossings, aroma of the river punches me smack dab in the middle of childhood memories. If you’ve spent anytime on The Frio River you know the aroma I am talking about. When I smell the river for the first time on a new trip there, I immediately think of this steel ladder.


It looks like a giant erector set. One of my great uncles built it so we could get down the bluff into the river easier than previous ways to get down to the river. There is a memory that surfaces in my thoughts faster than light when triggered by the very distinct aroma of The Frio River.

When I was about 4 or 5 my grandmother would hold my hand as we walked down the ramp which at the time seemed like a mile long. As soon as I would get to the top of the first step, the aroma of the river rushing up the bluff on the breeze invited me down to day of playing in the river. It was a level of excitement that rivaled Christmas Eve. That’s what I think about when I smell the Frio River. 

It truly is a long ladder.


For kids, dogs, elderly, and middle aged people with whisky in their belly these steps are to be respected.

First order of business is to dip a toe in the water. The Frio by us runs clear. We’re only about 4 miles down river from the head waters.


Once the camp is set and the road trip is shook off, Frio doings commence.

Grand kids and dogs stomp on road, rock, and river.

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New moms, dads, and babies got into the swing of things rather quickly.


And Grandad’s sneaked down river for some solitary serene fishing.


I like to catch fish down river where there are so many, and bring them up by the camp where more are welcomed as part of my personal Frio River fish stocking program.

About the time comfort and relaxation takes hold of you, and you are walking around the camp bare foot you get a reminder to pay a little more attention.


It’s a rustic camp. This is a Giant Redheaded Centipede. Yes they can bite, and inject you with venom that stings. They eat bugs and don’t really care much to be around humans. Step on one barefooted and you’ll regret that happened. I missed this one thankfully. It’s a reminder as to why we shake out our shoes before putting them back on when heading back down to the river.

Handsome Gus sure does enjoy the water.

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Even when Michelle stops to bathe him in the river crossing as we’re leaving to come home because he smelled like mucky river silt after a day of trying to herd wild feral hogs. We realized 7 hours of that aroma on the way home was more than we needed.

Cooper Brown Dog would rather watch from the bank.


The river bank is a more refined spot is what Cooper was pointing out to me while watching Gus bathe in the first river crossing headed out of camp.

I took home the hardware in the unofficial river watching competition.

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Proper river watching requires dedicated concentration and mind wandering at the same time. Not everyone is well suited for river watching.  I’m pretty good at it. Coffee in the morning and whiskey when the mood strikes while on vacation.

Then I got to tinkering with the pano setting on my iphone.


The flat rock in the center is where I’ve fished with my grandad, mom & dad, uncles, my brother, and some cousins.


When we weren’t fishing we were diving off the rock for a cool swim. Deep springs here will get your attention when you happen the float over one of them.


You probably knew this, but if you click on any of the pictures in this or any previous post the pictures will enlarge. If you happen to have a wide screen monitor for your PC, the pictures fill that space rather nicely.

After sufficient time away from civilized distractions you begin to view some things differently than before. For example, Michelle pointed out a spot on the bluff across the river from camp that looked like an Angry Bird.


You thought I was going deep there didn’t you. Nope, just add a good sipping whiskey to a few days rest and let the imagination fly baby.

It was hard to believe it was the middle of August. It barely got over 80 for about an hour only one day this week.


That was pretty unexpected but welcomed. Sleeping with the windows open was never better. It did rain quite a bit more than one would expect it to this time of year which made enjoying a camp fire down by the river not practical.


We just enjoyed the camp fires in the pit under the cook shed which ain’t all bad.


Grill steak, chicken, burgers, dogs, and fish on this pit with a little cedar added to your coals and good eats will be had. You could even grill a politician on  by this fire. We enjoyed grilling politicians while grilling edible things is what we did. Michelle, uncle Michael, and I proved that people labeled to have different political ideas can eat together while discovering that we have more in common than the pin heads that place us in opposite corners want us to believe. Intelligent political discussion happened at the camp fire regardless of the effect that beer and whiskey can have on basic communication skills. This was an achievement we were proud to realize.

One thing that was not full of hot air was Treadway’s back right tire. We eased into Leakey seeking tire service. While Treadway was told by the one tire man in town that “his tire done got screwed…ha ha ha ha” I found a barbecue cooker that was eaten by a Prickly Pear.


Thought the car exhaust for smoke stack was fitting for a auto repair shop cooker. If the guy running the place put as much time in the cooker as he did telling stupid jokes about tires with screws in them (“wouldn’t it be great if we could all get screwed that good”), perhaps he could make himself a decent lunch. Careful what you wish for buddy is what I was thinking at the time.

Lunch is what we will be back to doing on Tuesday. There was plenty of last minute stress before the vacation got kicked off. Saturday morning, the power went off making us cancel breakfast.


After a nice chat with Centerpoint they got us back online in time for lunch to happen. I had been concerned we were not going to be able to open at all on Saturday.  It’s hard describe the level of suck that would have been had Saturday been a complete wash out.  Vacation would have been canceled for starters.

I do have to admit Centerpoint responded reasonably quick to my request for immediate service. We were out of power for about 80 minutes which might be some sort of record for an utility monopoly.

Then we are having some turnover with the staff so last minute training was taking place right before we shut down for the week. You are going to notice some new faces next week learning on the fly. The barbecue and chocolate will get served with much attention to detail. The newbies joining our team look to have what it takes.


My final instructions for Marlboro Man was to water the yard and plants while I was gone in case it didn’t rain. I heard that we’re good on the front.

Chef Greg stayed back to attend to details that have been hard to tend to as we never have any time to tend to anything but work. He also got the oven fixed, pastrami started, and other important shop keeping things. I appreciate knowing he was doing these things while I was fishing. Thanks brother.

I’m all charged up and ready to go. Cool rainy days and nights were restful. I turned it all off for a week. I’m ready to flip the switch back on for the year. Let’s go man. We need you to help us make this business strong and healthy. We’re aiming towards being a substantial contributor to the grace in our community. With your continued support we’re going to do some good work.

Noah was saying “lets go Grandad, its time to eat.”


Lets here it from you. Hope to see you this week.

Cheers! Scott




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