The morning was cool, overcast and perfect for a workout. Jeanne ran in the RV park while I headed out along the I-35W frontage road. The frontage road is lightly used and straight as an arrow. The terrain is low rolling hills with long challenging grades. The noise from I-35W was a little distracting and reminded me of the ambient roar of West Los Angeles. After cleaning up, we grabbed a light breakfast and waited for Leo and Grace.
Leo is an interesting guy and having him as a boss for my first job after graduate school was a stroke of luck. His talents can only be described with words like intelligent, astute, diligent, and truthful. The things he unselfishly taught me were invaluable and regularly applied. I used his mentoring model throughout my career to develop the skills younger employees, hoping it would help them as Leo helped me.
Like us, Leo and Grace became disillusioned with Southern California and eventually decided to leave. After looking around, they settled near Fort Worth to be close to family. We talked about the reasons for leaving California and they cited the usual issues of traffic, overcrowding, taxes, government, etc. It all sounded familiar.
They stopped by around 10:30 AM and were conducted on the usual tour of the coach. The highlight always seems to be the driver’s seat and anyone who sits there takes the oversized steering wheel in their hands and daydreams about cruising down the highway. Little do they suspect that driving this thing is not all that easy; it is like being six inches from disaster all day long.
The four of us spent the day together. After lunch at the local Cracker Barrel, Leo took us for a long drive through the surrounding area. We stopped by their new home which is currently under construction just outside of Cleburne, Texas. It is a really nice home in a nice neighborhood and is perfect for their semi-retired lifestyle. Completion is just weeks away and they are eager to move in.
Driving through the area, we could see the terrain was low rolling hills mostly used for cattle. Shortly after crossing the Brazos River, Leo asked if we wanted to visit a wild animal park and we cautiously agreed, not knowing what to expect. It turned out to be a very enjoyable and unique experience.
In the middle of nowhere is the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, a 1,650 acre special management area with over 1,000 exotic, threatened and endangered animals in a free-roaming environment. The non-profit center is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) and maintains a managed-breeding program. The center is self-supporting and the entrance fee allows visitors to drive along ten miles of roads to view the animals. For $5.00, you can buy a bag of feed to bring the animals right up to your car. Slowly driving along, we took pictures, fed the animals and chatted with Leo and Grace. It was a great experience.
On the way back to town, we had some authentic Texas BBQ for dinner that was delicious and reasonable. Around 7:30 PM, Leo and Grace dropped us off at the coach. It was a perfect day spent with old friends.
We read a little before falling asleep.