Jeanne and I got up early, picked up some McDonalds for breakfast and headed to Rockhound State Park for a quick visit before returning to camp.
We packed up, said goodbye to Bob and Carol and headed for Van Horn, Texas.
The drive was long and uneventful.
The campground at Van Horn, Eagle’s Nest, was surprisingly nice and did fill up by early evening. It had been a few days since my last workout so we looked for a place to run and came across a long dirt/gravel road that ran into the middle of the West Texas nowhere. It was the perfect place to run except we were still around 4,100 feet. Imagine running through mesquite, cactus and sage. We even scared up a few jack rabbits.
Contemporary Note: Sometimes it takes many years to appreciate the full value of an early-life experience. Growing up I was lucky enough to have a mentor, John Stahmann, living across the street. He was a ceramic engineer at Rocketdyne, a division of North American Rockwell that was a prime contractor for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs. As an engineer, he exposed me to the scientific method by indulging my curiosity with ‘projects’ and ‘experiments’. I am forever grateful for his insight, patience and his saying to use my head for something besides a hat rack. I keep his picture on my desk.
So what does this have to do with Van Horn, Texas? Well, John would tell me stories of growing up in west Texas during the great depression and the grinding poverty he and his family suffered. Van Horn, Texas was hardly a prosperous place in 2004 and I can’t begin to imagine what west Texas was like in the 1930’s. I often think of John Stahmann, the hardships he faced and how he pulled himself out of poverty through hard work and determination. I now understand his subtle message to enjoy life and make the most out of good fortune and opportunity.