Sent on November 11, 2015
And I’m back! I apologize for the infrequent updates. Since hearing of Eric’s passing, I’ve been a bit bad about writing. Which is silly. Eric was one of many people I knew in my teens who gave me tons of encouragement to write. To keep writing. When I read my poetry at my favorite little coffee shop in San Luis Obispo (I think I was the only teen who showed up), he was there to hear me.
So back to it. Where were we, readers? Sawyer? Ah yes, home of the sweet old guy who really wanted to keep Milo.
While in Sawyer for the night, DH was doing some poking around for our next campsite. What he found was a discount campsite called the Wagonmaster RV park…AND ALPACA FARM. (http://www.wagonmasterrv.com/alpacas.html) Apparently you can go on a tour of the alpaca pen and hand feed them. Naturally we headed there. The Wagonmaster alpaca farm is near Sanger, Texas, and we arrived on October 12th. It was mostly a dusty and gravelly lot, with a huge fenced in area for the alpacas, who were guarded by two giant dogs – an Anatolia Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix and a Great Pyrenees puppy. They looked a bit like giant labs, only much more ferocious (not really, only if you tried to steal the alpacas). While there we got to talking to the owner, who sells alpaca yarn out of the office, and she told us the story – the answer to, “Why alpacas?” She was a teacher, and she and her husband saw an alpaca years ago, and she “burst into tears” at how beautiful it was. She became convinced she had to have them. So when they had a chance to buy a lot with room for an alpaca herd, they took it, and opened the RV site there. It’s a bit like me with the elephants, I suppose, only buying land for a herd of elephants will be quite impossible for us unless we win the lottery.
The alpaca tour started at 5:30 or so, and all three of us went (Milo was not invited). We boarded a golf cart, and the owner drove us into the pen to the barn, stopping along the way to give each of the guard dogs a rawhide bone. Along the very short drive, she explained that alpacas’ claws are very thin – like human toenails, really – and so are not much use as defensive weapons. They have no teeth on the top, only some on the bottom of their mouths, which they use to scoop things into their mouths. The dogs – Clarabelle and Gus – were raised in the pen, to bond more with the alpacas than humans. They were very sweet and excellent guards. One night I took Milo out for a walk and when we got within 20 ft of the pen, one dog came to bark at us while the other stayed with the herd. Upon arrival, we were given handfuls of pellets, which the alpacas LOVED, and we stood around while they pushed and shoved their way to anyone holding food.
What can I say about alpacas? They’re strange animals – their eyes look too big for their heads, and their fleece is a lot rougher than you’d think it would be. The names varied, as well. One was Johnny Cash and another was Kismet. They’re going with more western themed names now, but the ones they purchased kept the names they came with. We stayed at Wagonmaster two nights, and both nights saw DH and I feeding the alpacas – Youngest skipped the second trip, though he enjoyed it. I think once was enough for him.
On the 14th of October we were in Dallas, and after we stopped at “Deep South Burgers” (Delicious), we headed to Lakeside RV park. We’d found Lakeside (near Coolidge, Texas) in our list of discount RV parks, and it was cheap (I think 10 dollars a night) and in a location along the way to the Texas World Speedway, so hey, why not? What we didn’t know is that Lakeside RV park had a dozen or so donkeys. DH and I were laughing about it, because hey – first we feed elephants, then alpacas, and now…donkeys? We were surely moving downward in the animal kingdom somehow, but it amused us that we kept ending up at “feed the animal” places. If I really stretch the link I could say every night was feed the border collie in our RV, but honestly if we’d skipped that we’d have a very (very) unhappy Milo. Plus we never hand feed him his dinner. A snack, maybe, or a treat, but…anyway. I digress.
After we got to know some lovely little donkeys at Lakeside RV park, we went on to the Texas World Speedway. This was going to be a stressful time, I thought, because they didn’t allow dogs anywhere inside, and we’d be camping in the RV right near the track. But the guy at the place told DH, “Hey, if you keep Milo out of sight, and are subtle about it, it’ll be fine.” We stayed three nights, and DH did some work for D again, and by the second night we realized other people had dogs, and they weren’t being anywhere near as sneaky as us, so to heck with it. It was a lot less stressful at that point. For Milo too, I’m sure. I mean how much fun can it be when I’m loudly whispering, “GO POTTY” at him while a dozen loud cars roared past. Every morning DH would go off to work at the track or in the paddock while Youngest and I either wandered around taking photos or found things to occupy our time in the RV (books, TV, video games). DH teased me for being all “house wifey” because I brought him lunch and bottles of water, but it was nice to be able to help, and I’m not the only one in the family who doesn’t drink enough water. It was a fun time there, wandering around and watching the variety of cars. Our last night there they had a big barbecue for everyone and a band came to play. A band of kids, really – they were anywhere from 15 to 20, and they were all fantastic. One of the kids did a Led Zeppelin song I love, and when he did the drum solo I actually got goosebumps, it was so close to the original. On the evening we were to leave we took Milo out off his lead, and of course, with our impending departure a few moments away, he found a dead thing to roll around in. We had to fit a quick bath for Milo into the schedule, and by the time we left it was dark.
We boondocked at Lowes near College Station, Texas, as it was just a quick hop down the road from us. It was also right by Sodolak’s Beefmasters, which, as you may (or may not) remember, we visited before for chicken fried bacon. Our last visit didn’t include Youngest (it was a date night for DH and I) and we really loved their food and wanted Youngest to have a chance to try it. We headed there a little bit after they opened for lunch, and had a fantastic meal. Youngest was awed by the size of his steak (bigger than his head), but a little bit intimidated by it too, and he left not quite as impressed as DH and I.
From Sodolak’s in Bryan, Texas, we moved on to Berry Springs RV park – another one we’d stayed at previously, and we wandered around the neighboring preserve looking for deer (and fox, and birds and anything else we could find). Then we moved on, on October 20th, to a Corps of Engineers park called Cedar Breaks Park that DH found, right on a lake. We stayed there until the 23rd, in peace and quiet, enjoying the quite unafraid deer population and the views. D rented a car for DH, and he went off each day we were there to yet more work while Youngest and I took photos of deer, who liked to come just close enough to drive Milo crazy. On our last day, Youngest asked for a haircut, so I drove him into the nearest town and he had all of his hair chopped off – which thrilled me, as I love it when he isn’t hiding his face! He immediately looked a couple years older – more his age than he ever looks with a mop.
Our next stop was Bottomless Lake State Park in New Mexico. The last time we stopped there, we were in a hurry to get on with our journey, and although Youngest wanted us to camp there, we didn’t. So this time we made sure to get in for a couple of days. However, I am going to pick up there in my next email.
Love to all