According to Indian legend when the great creator finished making the Earth, a large pile of rejected stoney material was left over. Already finished with the main job, the creator threw this material into one heap and made it Big Bend country.
It was Wednesday night when Christopher and I made the wild hair decision to drive out to Big Bend and camp for the weekend. Chris had to finish a lab for school and I had to accept the delivery of a huge package A/C unit for my apartments. By Thursday night Chris was just about finished with his work, I with mine, and so we said on the phone – um, well if you want to go??? We settled on the idea that at 6am we’d blast out of San Marcos and head out to Big Bend – the most remarkable wilderness camping place in the Universe. I went to the gym anyway to prep myself for the long trek West.
5:45am came early and at the front of the house, the sunrise is my alarm. When my cute little iPhone did its morning ding, I was just settled in with the idea of actually being asleep. I raised my head over my sleeping dog and looked across the landscape. It was a spectacular morning – a long orange and deep red band of light anticipated the sunrise – a layer of cloud across the horizon. I laid my head down for fifteen more minutes – hoping for a moment that we’d both forget. By 6am, I was out of bed hobbling around the house in my boxers– gathering my camera gear, feeding the dog, finding my last minute stuff, taking a shower and wondering if Chris was still asleep.
At 6:37, Chris showed up at the door. Kodak so wanted to go with us – jumping around with excitement in hopes of getting into the car with us. A quick packing job, past tense, and we were on our way – Kodak sulking at the door.
By 4pm, we were pulling into our campsite. We put up the tent, poured a glass of Whiskey, and listened to the silence. We had relaxed for only a moment, when in the distance – just barely rising above the sound of birds and crickets were voices. On the horizon were two guys hiking along the nearby ridge.
The sun was going down and the light magnificent, warm and fleeting. Chris was diggin in the dirt with his archeology tools and did actually find a place where it seems Indians made Ocre. I was running out of light and so I hiked up the road toward an old cemetery. I ran across the two guys on the road. We smiled, introduced ourselves and chatted. It turns out both of these guys were from San Antonio serving in the Air Force. One guy was an “intel” officer and the other a Pilot. He said quite casually that he flew for the Guard. I said, “really – do you know Tim Lawlor?”. He smiled and bowed his head for a moment. “We flew together at Aviano” he said. Oh My God – this guy was Tim’s best bud and I was down here in the middle "Nowhere, Texas". He continued to say that Tim had just called him a few days earlier on the phone. I told him that Tim had been my roommate for a while in San Marcos before he went to flight school, and of course, delivered a little dirt that would be helpful in future conversation. Yeager was his name – the flight name Pilots get from their wingmen and flight pals. Wow – an American hero here in Big Bend who knows my friend Tim – and who also is his friend.
The sun set as the two walked off in the distance – I still marveling at the exchange we’d just had and that we – here in the middle of Big Bend, Texas we were indeed connected by Kevin Bacon’s Six Degrees of separation. Awesome!