Laugh tracks in the dust

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   2015 is well started, but I’ve gotta tell you about the end of 2014 and the first days of the new year for ol’ Nevah and me.

A few weeks ago, our Missouri friends Canby and May Bea Handy, and Nevah and I decided to attend the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, where our favorite university football team, the Bea Wilder U. Wildcats, were playing on Jan. 2.

We planned our trip to skip the death-defying gauntlet interstate drive between Oklahoma City/Dallas/Ft. Worth and San Antonio by going west of all the cities going south and returning home going east of those busy burgs. That made it convenient for Canby and me to visit and party New Year’s Eve with our old high school classmate, Deft Stepper, who lives in Bridgeport, Texas.

We left Damphewmore Acres at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 31 in 7 degree temperatures. In Oklahoma we cut west to Hennessey, then south through Kingfisher, El Reno, Chichasha, and Duncan and got into Bridgeport around 3:30 in the afternoon. After a brief visit with our buddy Deft, we got directions to the New Year’s Eve party in Springtown, then left for our motel in Weatherford.

That’s when the first funny thing happened. As I was getting dressed for the dance, I discovered I’d left all my belts at home. I knew Deft didn’t have a belt that would fit because he’s skinny and I doubted I could find a clothing store open on New Year’s Eve. But, a quick drive-around brought us to an open J. C. Penney’s store. I rushed to the men’s belt display and sadly noted that all were priced at $28, a pretty steep price for an emergency belt. But, then I noticed one belt with a western look to it and amazingly it wuz priced at $9 — and it fit perfectly. So, I took it to the checkout and the clerk rang it up and said, “It’s your lucky day, that belt’s on sale for $4.50.” I bought it and wuz ready for high steppin’.

The dance in Springtown wuz wonderful. The facility was built with donations and operated by volunteers. The crowd of probably 200 were a compatible, informal mix of cowboys and cowgirls our age and city folk from the Metroplex. The band “Ace of Diamonds” kept the music hot and the volume accommodating. There wuz a long table of munchies to graze on all evening and the facility is operated alcohol-free.

We danced until 11 p.m. and then a freezing drizzle began to fall, so our party of four left early and made it back to Weatherford just in time for our midnight kisses to ring in the new year.

The next morning we discovered a quarter-inch of ice coating Canby’s supercab Ford and the temperature wuz 29. And, there the temperature stayed until we were almost to San Antonio. But, we dodged a bullet in that the ground wuz warm enuf that Highway 281 never got icy and slick. It just stayed nasty and sloshy.

As we carefully made our was south, we passed through the blink-your-eye town of Hico that had a great welcome sign at the city limits. It read: “Hico: Where Everybody is Somebody.”  We skipped a side-trip to the Lyndon B. Johnson ranch on the Pedernales River at Johnson City, and likewise, to Luckenbach of Waylon Jennings fame because the fog wuz too heavy for sightseeing.

When we got to San Antonia around 3 p.m., we got the biggest, and worst, surprise of the trip. Using the internet, we’d rented a small 2-bedroom home near the Riverwalk downtown that wuz advertised as “quaint and cozy and close to the 2nd oldest public park in America.” What we found when we arrived, is that the only thing correct about the listing was it’s closeness to the park. The place was dingy, spare and cold — with no central heat and only a couple of space heaters.

We quickly surmised the place wuz a “no-go,” so we left and found a motel equally close to the downtown area — and it had heat. Luckily, we got our money refunded by the owner of the firetrap.

Late that afternoon, we attended the BWU Pep Rally at the Freeman Center — and that’s where the funniest episode on the trip happened. Now understand that Canby’s supercab won’t fit into a normal parking space. So, trying to be considerate about parking, he went to the outskirts of the parking lot where he thought the parking lot might not fill up.

Alas, the big crowd filled the parking lot and after the pep rally Canby returned to his pickup and found a note scrawled on a piece of paper and crammed under his wiper blade. It read: “Hey, Mizzou, meathead! Learn to park your trash hauler!” Oh, we laughed and laughed about that one all the way home.

Later that night, we dined at a superb Mexican restaurant called The Alamo Cafe, close to the airport where Canby worked 15 years ago. It was huge, crowded, and the food and margaritas were excellent.

On Jan. 2 we goofed around all day, ate lunch at Grady’s BBQ, and bought a couple bottles of my favorite honey-flavored bourbon — which you can’t buy in Kansas or Missouri. Sadly, that evening, we walked from downtown to the Alamo Bowl in a heavy drizzle, watched BWU lose a close football game, and then spent 30-45 minutes exiting a 7-story parking garage.

The next morning we were glad to depart San Antonio. We traveled east to College Station, where we took a drive-by of Texas A&M University, then north through flooded east Texas to Tyler and Paris, where we overnighted. Next day,

we hit the Indian Nation Turnpike to south Tulsa, diverted west to Cleveland, Okla., then north on 99 highway through Pawhuska, then Sedan, Kan. and on into Emporia.

We had a great time and saw a lot of Texas that I’d never seen before. But it wuz great to get back to Damphewmore Acres — even it it wuz just in time for a bitter cold snap.

In closing, here’s a couple of witty quotes about the Lone Star State. Former President George Bush said, “Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called ‘walking.” And Willie Nelson said, “I’m from Texas, and one of the reasons I like Texas is because there’s no one in control.”

Well said fellers. Have a good ‘un.

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