Gap, Old Home, and Roller Coasters

by PammyMcB

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

One Saturday around noon, DJ and I were off again on another exploratory excursion. We were Buffalo Gap bound, where we strolled through the flea market that occurs there every third Saturday of the month from Spring to Fall. The market was full of ‘stuff grandma left me,’ and ‘shit no one wants’ booths. There were also some ‘things that I stole’ booths. We weren’t much impressed with any of those booths, but the craft booths were excellent and gave us a lot of ideas for a booth of our own some day. Booths at the market start at $14; and I really believe that DJ and I can make a go of it if we try.

The air of the market was filled with the rich odors of roasted corn, tacos, tostadas, burgers, and funnel cakes. We bought us some homemade salsa, and the couple that sold it to us also makes prickly pear jelly. Yummy!!! They gave me their card so that I can put myself down for some of their next batch. They had already run out of prickly pear jelly for the weekend.

DJ and I made it over to the live animal section of the market where we saw puppies, goats, miniature horses, rabbits, quail, chickens, ducks, dove, turkey, and other fowl. I am anxious to buy a house someday, so we can buy one of each. I didn’t photograph the market this time, but I plan on photographing it next month when we go. Hey, maybe I’ll even have my own booth.

DJ and I went home, and he cooked brats for an early dinner. Yeah, I know, a diet breaker, but we have not had anything like this since March; and we are still losing inches.

Damien went to the mall with his female friends, and Dylan and Xavier were hanging out playing video games. So, DJ and I decided to go out for a drive and take pictures of whatever we could see. We headed out west toward Sweetwater, my old stomping grounds.

DJ thought it would be a good idea for us to go out and see the home that I used to live in with my second closest and dearest friend, Vicki. We passed the truck stop where DJ and I first met, and quickly, we both realized that it doesn’t look the same. Of course, when I worked at the truck stop, it was the Sweetwater 76. Now, it is a TA. There is no longer a restaurant with wait staff. In its stead, there are fast food eateries inside. I cannot imagine what it looks like inside now, and I want to remember the truck stop as it was not as it is.

Down the road that runs past the truck stop, DJ and I travelled further and further into the countryside. My anxiety rose the closer we got to my old home on hill. The higher the anxiety rose, the more my hands began to shake. I am not 100% sure as to why I was so nervous, but I suppose it could have been that I was frightened to run into one person I know from my past. It is the same person that pulled a gun on me years ago, but that is another story. We topped the hill and almost missed the house, so I quickly told DJ, “This is it. I meant to tell you before we got to the top.” I was distracted.

It looked like no one had lived in the home for quite some time, as the windows are busted out, garbage is strewn about the yard, and the weeds are grown up high. Regardless, I still have many fond memories of sitting on the front porch with Vicki and watching nature pass us by while we passed a drink and smoked our cigarettes. My tiny trailer is no longer beside the house and our covered carport where we used sit in the shade and roll cigarettes under is gone. We rolled our cigarettes at the old card table while our laundry washed in the tiny ancient washing machine. Our clothing had to be wrung out through an old crank ringer before we took it to the backyard to hang on the line, which there was no sign of. I wondered aloud if the old container full of silver Kennedy dollars is still hidden in the wall, or did someone finally find it?

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

The morning glories’ vines are now golden, but they are still twisted through, around, and along the fence. Only one flower bush we planted still thrives, and the tiny red flowers still bloom showing their brilliant colors to the world. Several trees are dead and the ground is mostly yellow instead of green.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

Behind the tiny home, the old tire swing that Vicki and I hoisted up in the tree for Selena and Danny is still hanging but drooping almost to the ground. The old rubber is cracked and the rope is worn and frayed. The kids would giggle and squeal as I would let lose of the swing that I twisted high in the air. The pen we kept our old three legged cow in still stood but was bent and twisted with wear.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

The old chicken coop on the back of the property still stands, but it is grown up with weeds, brush, and bramble. Often, I would wake early in the morning and go into the coop to gather fresh eggs – large, small, white, speckled, and brown. Then, I would take the eggs into the home, and Vicki would fix us a breakfast fit for kings. The old pig pen may still be there, but the weeds are too high to tell.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

The feed shed is still standing, and I wonder if it still contains any of our things. Dressed in shorts and tennis shoes, I did not dare to venture out behind the old home for fear of getting snake bit or even worse, bit by a black widow. I know enough about snakes to know it is not the venom of a rattler that will kill you. A person has plenty of time to make it to the hospital and get the anti-venom if they don’t go into the shock, which means it is usually the shock that gets people. I also know that if you are allergic to a bee, then a black widow can take you to the grave; and I am very allergic to bees.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

I am glad that DJ and I took the trip down Memory Lane. The dust from the road had fallen to the ground, and the memories had begun to fade. I believe that I needed to go and remember the nights I slept in the back of Vicki’s old beat up truck under the bright light of the moon and the twinkling stars. The stars were always much brighter out here because it is so far away from the city. I always loved living at Vicki’s, and the time I spent in her home is the one period in my life that I can say I consistently felt as one with nature. It was a tough way of living, but it was simple and gratifying at the same time. Our garden, where we grew our on food, is long gone. We made our own bread, and from the goats, we made our own cheese. However, I never could bring myself to try the goat milk mainly because I don’t like the taste of milk anyway.

DJ and I departed the small home and followed the road to the dead end with only three ways to go, back north from which we came, east, or west. Westward DJ turned, and I began to remember climbing the hills in that old, beat up, 1970s Dodge Duster. The dirt road twisted and turned up the hill and down the hill under canopies of trees, and the dust flew up from where the tires touched the freshly grated caliche road.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

Cows watched us as DJ traversed to the end of the twisting dirt road to Nolan County Road 147. Again, we headed westward, and the paved road dipped and rose ahead of us like a roller coaster. I squealed and screamed with delight as the truck dropped and climbed with the hills. The further we traveled on the road, the more speed the truck picked up, and the more fun I had. I don’t think I have laughed so hard in a very, very long time.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

The road finally leveled atop a hill next to a wind farm, and I begged DJ to turn around, so we could ride that roller coaster again. DJ pulled into a gate opening for the wind farm to turn around, where we noticed two burros in a field with several cows. I asked DJ to stop, so I could shoot the animals. I kept trying to get the nearest burro’s attention in order to get a good shot, but he would not look up at me. DJ decided that the burro was just “being an ass.”

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

DJ and I traveled back east to ride the roller coaster and head back to our house. On the way back, the trip was different, of course, and the ride down the first hill did not only catch me off guard. It also caught DJ off guard. “OH SHIT!!!” He hollered as the ground dropped from beneath us. For just a second, the tires did not touch the road. We laughed and laughed up and down hill after hill. DJ smiled so big that I felt my heart was going to burst because I have never seen him laugh so hard in the eighteen years that we have been together. We stopped to take pictures of the hills, so I decided to take a picture of the two of us as well.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

DJ and I followed Nolan County Road 147 to Nolan County Road 145, Farm to Market 1809, and Texas Highway 70, where we headed south toward Blackwell and Bronte. On the way, we saw a sign for the Decker Cemetery. Decker Cemetery sits atop a hill overlooking the beautiful rolling plains of the mesa. Nothing but the open countryside could be seen for miles. The sign on the fence around the cemetery states that Decker Cemetery does not charge for plots but relies on donations for the upkeep. There is an old windmill in the cemetery along with the tallest evergreen that I have ever had the opportunity to see. The grounds of the cemetery are sprinkled with wildflowers, and grasshoppers and butterflies fill the sky as your feet and legs brush against the plant growth. This cemetery, like many others around here, has a high number of grave sites of unknown souls.


Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

After we left Decker Cemetery, DJ and I returned to Highway 70 and back toward Bronte and Fort Chadbourne. We went to the Fort Chadbourne cemetery in an attempt to capture the sunset and to see how different the cemetery looks with the plants and flowers growing in and around it. I did not get the sunset shot or the other shots that I was hoping for because the mosquitoes were too thick, and they were eating us alive. I did get a couple of shots of flowers and a grasshopper before I wussed out and decided I was going back to the truck.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

DJ and I rode down 277 back east talking all the while. We made plans for our future and talked about our past. Before we knew it, we were passing Caps and View. We continued to gab when the red and blue lights of a highway patrol behind us flashed. Ahead of us a sign read 60 miles per hour. DJ was only driving 72, and we were surprised that an officer would pull us over for such a small infraction. However, according to the officer, the speed limit changed from 70 to 60 a good way behind us. Uh-oh!!! DJ apologized to the officer, and I photographed him while the officer headed back to his car to ‘check us out.’ We laughed about the mistake and decided that DJ should have been paying better attention rather than b-s’ing with me. The officer gave DJ a warning since he has no points on his license and no criminal record. We made it home before the sun set, and DJ posed for a picture with his warning slip.

Original Photography by
©Pamela N. Brown

We had a good time on Saturday, and I relish having many more Saturdays like this one.