Tuesday, June 30, 2009

White Pepper's Strangest Anchorage Yet

For six months Jan and I have been living outside of Kenedy, Texas on a ranch. We rented it from our good friends and cruisers Bob and Kay Jack. It is actually their mother Maxine's. The home is a lovely modern style brick home built in 1976 and plunked down in the middle of a land where the clock stopped about 1911 or so. Located a half mile off of state road 72 ten miles SW of Kenedy and 3 miles from Pauwnee it is in remote rolling prairie that the locals call the brush country. The reason for the appropriate name is that without constant attention the land will quickly revert to mesquite and live oak brush. At the turn of the 20th century the land was booming with many small farms and hamlets, but as the land dried out and transportation improved gradually everyone has left. Our nearest neighbors, whom became dear friends, live 1.5 miles away. The cell phones don't work, there is no garbage pick up, mail is delivered by a nice family under contract to the USPS, electricity and water services are frequently interrupted by rain and harsh weather. We strictly drink bottled water because there is arsenic in the water pumped up from deep wells. The nearest supplies are 10 miles away. There was phone service by AT&T and dial up internet by AOL. In other words it is like living in a remote anchorage.

I have gradually learned to be comfortable staring across miles of open empty ocean with endless rolling waves, but for a while I was quite uncomfortable staring out across miles of rolling empty prairie seeing only brush, scrub vegetation, scrawny cows and overgrazed pasture, a few abandoned buildings, and power lines marching away towards San Antonio 60 miles to the north.
The good part of living there was the remarkable weather which was invariably mild, pleasant and quite dry. The dryness was surprise as Corpus Christi is only 90 miles away and that has some of Texas' most uncomfortable weather.

The best part about the stay was meeting the Tompkins who live 1.5 miles away. Floyd and Debbie plan to sail away someday. They have a Hershoff designed Meadowlark anchored in Rockport and are just learning how to sail. Son Shane, wife Monica with young ones Addie and Floyd are just a refreshing delight to be around. Shane has a brush clearing business.

During the winter months the sky was so clear and dark that it reminded us of the winter trip across the Gulf of Mexico. We could look out at the old familiar winter sky and reminisce. As the temperature warmed up sky gazing was no longer feasible as now the rattlesnakes were on the move. It was just not wise to go out in the dark on the lawn. In late April I had to kill a 3 and 1/2 foot rattle snake in the garage with Maxine's old single shot shotgun and later Jan had to throw rocks at a large rattler to get him to move off the road we were hiking. It just changes things to have to always watch were you step so we began to look for somewhere else to stay.

It was a wonderful refuge and we are grateful to Bob and Kay for letting us live there from New Year's Eve until the second week in June when we moved into town. We definitely needed a transitional place and the ranch was wonderful. But as a sea hardened sailor I am embarrassed to reveal how pleased I am to be back where the cell phones work, the internet zips along, the water is potable and Jan and I do not have to always look out for snakes.