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Lake Benbrook COE
A storm blew through Lake Whitney last night. The lightning woke me briefly, that and the wind through the windows. I lay there thinking once again about my tenting days, dealing with wet bedrolls and trying to cook just outside the tent flap. Then I rolled over and went back to sleep.
It was just getting light when I got up and started coffee. The birds were somewhat subdued, the lake misty. Slowly a few raw beams of morning light poked through the cloud cover. First sun in days.
Made the world look fresh washed.
Time to load up. The Diner in Whitney was closed. The cloud cover was burning off fast as I headed north toward Cow Town. There was an amazing clot of gulls wheeling above the road near the lake, hundreds of them, folding and rolling like dough being kneaded into bread. While I watched, another line of them approached in a classic V. You know, like 20 or 30 gulls made into one big one. They started right on by the others, but the tip of one wing hit the sphere, got mixed in, and suddenly the whole V wheeled and curled up, sucked into the maelstrom.
I was pumping gas for maybe 15 minutes while this enormous ball of flesh and feathers roiled in restless energy and indecision, going nowhere, just hanging 200 feet above the road. Maybe they've discovered some unhappy equilibrium, like the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, and they'll just seethe and circle and fold up there until they all drop exhausted from the sky.
That would make an interesting insurance claim: RV totaled by Gull Storm. Think I'll move along now.
I stopped for breakfast south of Cleburne, at Fat Albert's Country Cookin'. A remarkable crowd, in the middle of the morning. There were a dozen men in there, and not one of them could have weighed less than 250 pounds. Many obviously well over 300. A couple over 400.
When I got my plate I had a good idea why. This is one place where you will never have to say "supersize it." The grits came in a soup bowl.
Aside from everyone assiduously tucking in the groceries, there wasn't much going on this morning. One fellow over in the corner looked exactly like the cartoon character Hank Hill. He never said a word while I was there. He even ordered by pointing at the menu. And yet he always looked like he was about to say something.
There was one garrulous old gent negotiating his way through breakfast.
"What can I get ya, John?"
"O, I'm okay, I guess. I'm doin' my best. My back hurts me, but I spec' it'll get better when the sun gets on it."
"I hope so. But what do you want to eat?"
"Sometime soon I got to have me a plate of pan fried chicken."
"You want chicken for breakfast?"
" I would, if I could get a good'un. But they let'em get too big these days."
His wife finally ordered him some oatmeal. When it arrived in a big bowl, he got a little agitated about where it was placed.
"Now, I've got to have this over there. I can't eat left handed. I just can't. Can you bring me some butter? Oh. Is it? I can't see a damn thing any more....."
The Johnson County Courthouse in Cleburne is a remarkably priapic clock tower rising 7 stories to a round silver dome. It is surrounded at the base on four sides by a massive 4 story office block. I thought the upper tower might be a jail, as there were bars on the vertical windows, but it seems to house empty space. You can see daylight right through it. While thinking about this, somehow I missed my turn onto Hwy 171 and ended up crawling from light to light through miles and miles of strip center wasteland all the way to IH 20 in Ft Worth.
I've never been to a COE park that wasn't neat and generously laid out, and Lake Benbrook is no exception. I took a chance on a site without electricity that was right on the lake. Area 51. Where have I heard that before? Many sites had been already reserved for the weekend, and this was Thursday noon.
It was 80 degrees, with a wind, and I was planning to sit out reading by the water.
A marginal decision. The season is turning warmer. It got up to 85 degrees in the afternoon, and the bugs were out along the shore. Not many mosquitoes, but there is some kind of tiny moth that clings to the underside of oak leaves (and coats the rear of the trailer). If you brush your head going under the leaves, as I am liable to do, these bugs drop down like gray rain of pixie dust, without the vaunted advantage. They fly in your eyes and ears and hair. They don't bite, but they are an persistent ticklish irritation.
I was driven inside, where it seemed 10 degrees warmer, even with the fan.
The insects disappeared with dusk. I built a fire, and watched the lake. Herons and gulls and cormorants are fishing as the light dies. Moving among the snags, shadows on shadow. There's even a few ducks. One thing I like about Benbrook is that they haven't gone crazy with the street lights. There's one on the boat ramp, and another at the entrance, and some smaller lights around the rest rooms, and that's it. Nothing to wash out the stars but Fort Worth herownself, over there in the distance.
It's quiet here, even when the place is full. Peaceful. Now and then you can hear the highway, or a solitary boat across the water, or a fretful young camper crying. But nothing to drown out the slap and ripple of fish in the water.
How does that old Don Williams song go? "Nothing makes a sound in the trees like the wind does."
All in all, it's been just an ordinary day, both on the highway and here in my new lakeside home. I hope to have many more just like it.
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