The sand castle

Forty degrees last night and perfectly comfortable in the tent.  I’ve only been using the mummy bag, and my thinnest knit blanket to cover the sleeping mattress.  The warmer it is the more I unzip the mummy bag, to the point I’m just sleeping on the knit blanket with the mummy laid over me like a butterflied porkchop.  Last night the bag zipper varied from half-way to almost all the way up.

The last Walmart walk really opened up something in my legs, and today I went for an early lap to stretch them out and confirm they were still working the same as yesterday. Then a quick lunch while I packed and started to get ready for a new trail. About then Bill and Carol pulled up on their way out of the park.  It was great to see them again and to trade contact information; I’m glad they’ll have a chance to read the stories I’ve written.

Equipped with radio and camera, no phone – I went off for my walk, a new route.  Out of catfish cove and down to the longhorn trail entrance for a two mile loop.  I should have charged the camera first and I’ll go walk the same route tomorrow to capture more that I missed. Yet, I will never duplicate today’s memory.

Kent had called it the sandcastle.  Had I gone to see the sandcastle yet, he had asked. I hadn’t and I was okay with that, my miles have been on the catfish point trail.  The longhorn trail starts about a half mile outside of my campground “loop”- the subdivisions that arrange this place. Yet, I knew I was working up to it.

The walking went easy and I’m going to try to work up to a “max”.  Maybe I won’t get the low time per mile that I want, perhaps it’s a high score of miles per day I’ll be after?  I’ve memorized the turns on the catfish trail, so this one being new made the time pass.  Also, having seen a scorpion last night in the wild, I was really looking for anything I could photograph.

A landscape here and there, some birds, yet I don’t think my Sony’s ‘nifty fifty’ (a thirty five mm on a aps-c chip) captured them as well as my three hundred on my canon aps-c would have. I saw my battery was low and I should have saved my shots.  I didn’t even remember Kent talking about the sandcastle on the next loop over.

As soon as I turned the corner I was awed, a true piece of Texas scenery.  A mud brick pavilion built in the nineteen thirty by the conversation corps. Aged in the Texas heat, I knew this would be the perfect backdrop for nearly any occasion.  Open with arches everywhere, the late afternoon sun was golden and piercing with contrast through the structure.

I saw a few people gathered near the info sign, so I went to walk through another way, thinking I’d come back and read it later.  Yet a few minutes later, they were still there, so I approached anyway to read the sign.  As I came closer still, I saw saw two more people sheltered in the corner from the wind by the three standing.  My next look showed one was a makeup artist – and the other, a beautiful Mexican teen, in a most amazing pink dress.

Not just a dress, a gown?  A ball gown?  Something that Cinderella or Belle would wear – and in the same cartoon-like vibrant color! Realizing they were preparing makeup for a photoshoot (a bit too much makeup I thought at the time,) I asked, Senior pictures, quinceanera? (Luckily I can properly pronounce that word, even though I just had to google the spelling.) The mother nodded at repeated quinceanera at double my speed. I smiled and said oh nice, then to the girl, congratulations.

I don’t think any one of them spoke English as their first language and the mothers haste I think intended to answer my question as well as dismiss me it seemed.  I was happy to keep exploring as they kept shielding the girl in the corner.  Walking down the wall I was able to read the remaining info posters, learning about the CCC construction program during the depression that had build the structure.

Walking in the main opening of the pavilion I was stunned.  Another young lady, listening to the music on her phone as a photographer was moving his stage lighting to the next position.  This girl – makeup finished – was not wearing too much at all.  Yet I could tell the layers had been built up to present the most beautiful soft glowing radiant skin (certainly assisted by the stage lighting) that made her look like a perfectly painted Mexican porcelain doll.

Listening to the music, bobbing her head, maybe sending a text.  Too busy in whatever she was doing on her phone, oblivious to everything around her.  No pink gown here, a deep majestic purple, fully trimmed with darker shades.  The gowns were as fancy as I’ve ever seen. Way more than a prom dress.  Sequins and lace, and poof and more poof – the gowns were six feet wide at least.  I wandered the room, looking around and waiting for an an opportune moment.

As the photographer finished moving his lights, I stated/asked, this must be a popular spot for photo’s? (Thinking of Art six thirty four back in Jackson). The photographer confirmed, it was a popular spot for as far out as it was.  He was busy, so I didn’t try to take any more of his time and turned to exit and go on my way.  The young lady in purple had moved around in the mean time and as I exited, our paths crossed.

I was for a moment, speechless.  Truly stunned by this absolutely beautiful young lady in front of me.  From the makeup, the gown, her hair done up yet with enough length to have spirals past her shoulders; and also know a bit of the tradition- these young women were about celebrate a very special day for them- their fifteenth birthdays. Porcelain white skin with her natural Mexican brunette hair. As beautiful and innocent as Saint Mary herself.

Congratulations on your quinceanera. She smiled —

oh to describe a smile.  Bothered.  polite.  arrogant.  coy.  gentle.  This young lady had attitude.

Her head tilted a bit to position her chin up in perfect posture as she did. No reply, just a half smile, head tilt, and a touch of attitude.

Still nearly speechless, I said (and I’ll type it as I said it…)  “So much.. beautiful”, I said while gesturing with my hands opening them up to everything around me, her, the building, her friend down the way- the scene itself is fully picturesque and these two ladies both completed it and yet were completely above it at the same time.

She smiled then, her attitude fell away and for a brief moment we shared our smiles and eye contact.

Have a good day I said, as I turned and continued walking.  Just then I could hear the mother calling for her..

“Alexia..”

Oh I smiled, and smiled, still am.  I really miss my littlest sister.  Yet, not because I haven’t seen her lately.

A good story would just stop there, so I did.  Yet I did more things today too.. more work on my car, slowly now though.. planning for completion.  One last Amazon order for misc odds and ends that won’t be here until Friday.. so tomorrow I am going to see how many miles I can walk in a day.  I am now standing and walking around my site for at least five to six hours a day if not more.  I wonder if I can do the same amount of time while moving distance?

Charging my camera; will be ready for next shots.  It was nice to walk without a phone, I felt very untethered.

Ahh!  I almost forgot about Mathew!

His wife Becky, was walking down the street this early this morning.  It was cold remember? I was sitting in my car and watching her look side to side as she went.  I rolled down my window to give her an intentional smile and a good morning.  She looked and saw me and her face brightened – “You moved from seventy eight?”

Yes, I did.. (not recognizing her at all.)

“Could we get a jump?”

Somehow their radio had not turned off all night and killed the battery of their car.  I was happy to help, and once I got down to their site, I realized I had met Matthew before – he’s the one that scared the heck out of me, startled me as I exited the bathroom a few weeks ago.

The orange patterned sundress was changed for another, now also with leggings underneath to match the cold morning.  Connecting the cables and trying once quickly, it was apparent we’d have to give it time to charge up.  Becky had already gone into the vehicle to try to maintain as much warmth as she could.  He and I made as much small talk as we could, yet the cold was cold enough to be distracting.

He introduced me to their dogs, one hers, one his, and a new puppy they had gotten together. He was excited they had recently gotten a new tent – one tall enough for him to stand up in – as they’ve also been living/camping full time.  This morning, they were on their way for an apartment interview in Alice – and had been worried about missing it.

A few minutes later, their car was started and they were on their way on time.

I hope that turned out well for them.

Okay, that was a good day.  I’ve been a little down since I discovered the spasticity in my ankle, I have a feeling that won’t bode well for my attempts to run.. which will come soon, jogging at least (attempts at..) I’ve eliminated the “thens” and my own intentional breaks in my stride, yet my left foot seems to have a catch all of its own. the spasticity.  The moment my foot feels the weight of the step, the ankle freezes as if in panic, then it unfreezes automatically and every thing continues.. yet, that is a quarter second or eight second delay that I’ll have to learn to compensate for in every step.

Oh well, we’re going for distance not time tomorrow.  And walking today, and deciding to walk further today, further than I have all month in a single walk, rewarded me with a beautiful vision, another beautiful memory.. even one I got to write and share.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to photograph the sandcastle.  Yet, I missed– well, I didn’t miss, only my camera did– the best scenes there.

Somewhere in my book this sandcastle will play a role – I could see a wedding there.. or maybe a cartel funeral?  idk.

Time to rest.