Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I awoke to news that a 20,000 acre wildfire was raging out near the Davis Mountains in far West Texas. It's dang near a state of it's own out there, although it's part of Texas. Heck, Brewster County, which is to the south and east, I believe, of the Davis Mountains is larger than several of them there east coast states. Brewster county is the home of the Big Bend National Park and of the glorious bergs of Alpine and Terlingua, Texas. It's sixty miles, more or less, by highway from Alpine south to Terlingua, home of the yearly big chili cookoff and right next to the National Park on the west side of the park.

I've mentioned before that one of the best filet migion meals I've ever had was at the Starlight Theater in downtown Terlingua. It pretty much is downtown Terlingua, except for the expansive general store next door to it. It might have been because I was absolutely exhausted after a day of Mrs. El Fisho and I rambling around the park, enduring a 12 hour Amtrak ride from Houston to San Antonio to Alpine, renting a car and stocking up on water and some groceries for our trip to Big Bend and getting some lunch at about noon.

In any event, regardless of why I thought it was the best steak ever at the time, it was certainly up there in the top five steak dinners of all time. I've eaten at all the famous steak eateries in Texas, California, New Orleans, Vegas and other places, and some some truly excellent meals in those places. But sometimes, all the ingredients come together in steller form and an above-excellent meal occurs.

The Starlight was one of those meals. I got to meet a member of the Flatlanders, and ended up having a drink with some of the river raft guides, who were sorta living on the Alpine-Marfa-Austin social circuit. Turns out we had some friends in common that were musicians in Austin, and some lively conversation was had between us. They related to me their favorite, and almost only, fishing spot in the area: The Langford Hot Springs in the National Park. Seems catfish often flock to this spot, particularly during cooler times, and dead shrimp are a potent bait.

I have a ton of stories from times spent in West Texas both recent and from longer ago. So whenever I see that a wildfire is raging in the Davis Mountains, I'm concerned for all the hardy folks who live in that area.

Likewise, as I said last week in a post, summer is here in Texas. It's in the low 90's as I write this. Fortunately, we're still maybe a month away from the oppressive heat and humidity that will begin in June. Although it's hot, we're not at the near 100% humidity rate that's coming down the tracks like a train with no brakes in the next few weeks, so it's still possible to engage in outdoor activities in the heat of the day without becoming drenched in sweat.

We've had no rain for several weeks now. We have been fortunate this past "winter" and "spring", such as they were intermingled for many of us here in Texas this year, to have had some big rains. Of course, we need more. We are far from recovered from the huge drought of last year, drought that brought fires and came with heat waves that were devastating on so many personal and environmental levels. Our rivers and lakes and aquifers have not fully recharged, and that's a huge problem looming over many communities who just got past the danger point in water supplies.

Numerous towns in Texas, and not out in dry West Texas I might add, have been having water supply problems up through this rainy spring. I've been surprised at some of the places whose lakes ran out of water or whose rivers ran dry. I never thought I'd see the day that the immense Llano River would run dry, or nearly so, as it courses through some of my favorite parts of the Texas Hill Country, like the picturesque Llano, Texas.

Although I was horribly sorry for all the folks affected by the drought and heat wave last year in my state, the good side of that bad news was that it gave insight on places where Mrs. El Fisho and I don't want to buy a weekend place. We're currently in the search and see mode for weekend places, and we're still searching the net for candidates. Also, when we visit areas we like, we see lots of places for sale that are not on the net, or that we haven't found on the net anyway, so just getting out and around is a great way to find a place.

Billy Ray and his Missus just found a place up in the San Angelo area. It's a nice one. It's not exactly what we're looking for but it is what they're looking for. Also, like me, Billy Ray is interested in finding a few acres to buy with at least a getaway cabin on it. The land deals are far more attractive in the counties out near San Angelo, and there are lots of properties for reasonable prices with ponds and/or live water.

Most of the areas around San Angelo did okay as far as their larger creeks and their rivers went last year. I know that several friends of mine who have kinfolk in Mills and Brown counties and who visited there last year said there was water in the creeks and rivers. I've always considered the area of San Angelo to be very nice, since first visiting there some 27 years ago, but we never really looked in that area for weekend property. But there are some plenty nice places and frankly, I'd be happy as a clam with a place with some elevation that had some amount of frontage on Spring Creek right outside of San Angelo. It's a nice creek and would pass for a river in some places, and best of all it's a great green color.

So in any event, we're getting ready as best we can for the up coming summer. Last summer killed much of our San Augustine grass, despite my best efforts at watering as the law allowed. The heat just knocked the whey out of the San Augustine. Later in the fall, I seeded Bermuda grass all around and since we had the bizarre springlike conditions in our so-called winter, the Bermuda took on great in most places. I've got a few areas I want to reseed where it didn't take, but 90% of the area seeded is at least green and covered and not creating more dust around our house. Bermuda does much better in heat and drought but like most folks brought up in Texas, I'm used to having a lush, green carpet of San Augustine grass in my yards.

So here I sit, and as Soulhat, one of my favorite Austin band from the late 80's and 90's used to sing...I'm "Praying for Rain". 

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