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PEACE & TRUTH

BEN H ENGLISH. TEXAS, U.S.A.

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

Like a long-abandoned set for a 1960s science fiction movie, this oddly-shaped as well as placed canyon stretches out in a northerly direction, before turning almost upon itself to stretch out to the southwest and its junction with Alamo Creek.

It has no name I have ever been aware of, so as is wont to human nature I christened the spot ‘Mars Valley.’ Again, likely due to my childhood memories of those same science fiction movies. Strange how memories and imagination can influence each other, especially when in the wilds.

Not much grows in Mars Valley, and the lack of tracks in the bottoms gives mute affirmation that the native wildlife feels much the same about this place as the plant world. The only sign of any living creature was the occasional soaring carrion bird on high, looking unsuccessfully for something dead to feast upon.

And the only thing dead visible was close to where this photograph was shot. While taking a break from the ALICE pack digging into my aching shoulders, I sat down on a large, red rock and happened to look to one side.

There, lying all by itself under the harsh sun was the single blackened fang of a rather large, now defunct rattlesnake. My weariness being overcome by curiosity, I circled the immediate area to see what happened to the rest. But no other remains of the poisonous serpent were found, evidently those ever watchful carrion birds had long since made a meal of it.

Once I had sat back down and did some distance calculations while consulting my quad map, I realized there were still miles to go before darkness set in. The first jink in the valley pointed like a compass needle to where I needed to go, so I saddled my pack again and leaned into the harness.

“Miles to go before I sleep” wrote the poet. Though there were no woods or snow in this dry, barren land, I knew of what he wrote all those years before.

And down into the valley I went, a solitary sojourner in search of what lay over the next hill, in the midst of the wastes of the planet Mars…

God bless to all,
Ben

BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:
–STEPHENVILLE Saturday, October 1st, Stephenville Public Library 9am-12noon
–ALPINE Friday, October 7th, Big Bend OctaneFest at The Stable Performance Cars 12noon-5pm
–LUBBOCK Saturday-Sunday, Oct 15-16th, Lubbock Book Festival
–FORT STOCKTON Monday, October 17th, Fort Stockton Public Library 6pm
–TERLINGUA Saturday, November 5th, Tolbert Terlingua Chili Group Information OTICCC10a-3pm
–AMARILLO Tuesday, November 15th, North Branch Public Library 6:30-8:30pm

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
HS Teacher: 2008-2010

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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Peace Truth

Happy Fourth July Independence Day America

IT IS STILL MORNING IN AMERICA…

To All,

Today is Independence Day, the day we all come together as Americans to celebrate the birth of our nation. To be an American is one of the greatest gifts that a Benevolent God can bestow on any human being.

Do not ever denigrate or neglect that gift. Remember who and what you are, a citizen of a country that with all its faults still stands as the last, greatest mortal hope for mankind.

Do not forget the countless sacrifices of those who came before and charted the course. They did the hard work, all we must do now is maintain and improve upon what has been given to us.

And continue in heartfelt praise for our bountiful blessings from Above.

Keep the Faith and may God bless America,

Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine Texas
July 4, 2022

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” --Preamble of the Declaration of Independence

America

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

(Spoken)

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. “

(Sung!)

“God bless America
Land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.”

From the mountains, to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America
My home, sweet home!

God bless America
My home, sweet home!”

–Written by Irving Berlin in 1918 (World War One), revised in 1938 (eve of World War II)

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Ben H. English

BEN H English.TEXAS ALPINE

BOOK RELEASE:

Good morning,

A long, somewhat emotionally arduous journey was completed over this past weekend. My fifth book, ‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol,’ was released in both electronic as well as paperback versions.

I want to thank everyone who encouraged as well as supported me in this effort. My advance team of readers, families and friends of fallen officers, fellow officers who befriended me during my career, those others who served as both role models and mentors, citizens who were always there for my family when I was engaged elsewhere, and my readers who have served as the foundation for whatever success I may enjoy in the literary world.

To each and everyone involved, mere words can never convey my feelings of gratitude and humbleness for what you have so graciously provided.

At present both the book as well as Kindle version are only available on Amazon, where Black And White quickly snagged and maintains a ‘Number One New Release’ designation. Once the printing presses catch up, orders will be filled for chain retail houses, independent book stores, gift shops and the like.

Matter of fact, I am currently waiting delivery on my own shipment for my scheduled book tours.

Which reminds me, those of you who wish me to come to your area and put on a presentation? I ask you to make contact with your local library, museum or civic organization and have them invite me. In return, I will do my very best to be there.

Also please free to share this with others and if you are so inclined, leave a review or a rating with whomever you purchase your copy from.

To me, the best advertising and worthwhile opinion are those from a satisfied customer.

Or in this case, satisfied reader!

God bless to all,

Ben

FUTURE BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:

--BOERNE Saturday, July 9th Patrick Heath Public Library, 11 am-3 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th The Core House Ministries Book Signing, 11 am-2 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th Faith and Freedom Celebration Speaker Medina Community Library 4 pm
--ABILENE Thursday, August 18th Frontier Texas! 3-5 pm
--ALPINE Saturday-Sunday, September 3rd-4th, Big Bend Gun & Knife Show, Pete P. Gallego Center
--SAN ANGELO Thursday, September 15th Stephens Central Library, 6-8 pm
Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
HS Teacher: 2008-2010
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

Creative Texts Publishers
The Stable Performance Cars
Far Flung Outdoor Center
Haley Memorial Library and History Center
Billy the Kid Museum
Midland Centennial Library
Fort Stockton Public Library
Crockett County Public Library
Sutton County Library
Kimble County Chamber of Commerce
El Progreso Memorial Library
Lubbock Public Library
Front Street Books
Javelinas and Hollyhocks
Bandera General Store
Dan Edwards
Dave Durant
Chris Ryan
Mendell Morgan
Tumbleweed Smith
Kimble County Library
Julie Kawalec-Pearson
Sue Land
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Ben H. English

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

@peacewriter51
SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND: Ben H English ~ Texas 

I suppose due to more than one influence, perhaps even being in my genes, is to always be on the lookout for reliable water sources. Wandering along in my usual zig-zag, meandering sort of a desert waltz, my cadence and timing is determined by the discovery of the liquid gold this lonesome land hides so well.

And that is always followed by a very personal feeling of joy.

On this day I was working both banks of the upper reaches of Tornillo Creek, which ultimately runs beyond the park boundary and into private land northeast of the Paint Gap Hills. Back and forth I prowled, sometimes a half mile to either side and other times along the creek bed itself, cutting for a sign.

Some people have asked me what I mean by saying ‘cutting for sign.’ Much like in other long-time ranching and pioneer families of Texas, this means searching for tell-tale indicators that give hints as to what you might be looking for; be it livestock, wild game, predators, hiding places or perhaps even another man.

In this country, all will sooner or later lead you to that same liquid gold, as well as other places where both man or animal have dwelled since time immemorial.

Doing so on this one journey alone allowed me to find seeps, tinajas, waterholes, rotting remnants of fence lines, near gone corrals and still rutted wagon roads, as well as shelters, predator lairs and Indian campsites. All interconnected by those same tell-tale indicators, as both man and beast are creatures of much the same habits and needs.

Yet it was late in the evening, as I was easing along back to my vehicle, that several of these signs all came together and I knew there was a good deal of reliable water nearby.

By that hour the physical strain of the day was upon me, beads of sweat running down a dirty face, shoulders rubbed raw and aching from the pack, legs bandy with little of their spring left from the morning, and two feet that would need fresh socks soon or they would surely blister.

But the rotting corral, the gathering tracks of wildlife, the peculiar outside bend in the creek bed itself and the solitary cottonwood made me forget my heretofore discomfort altogether. Changing my course to a now near direct line, I followed the growing game trail in and out of the badly eroded dirt creek banks.

Dropping off into the creek one last time, I came to what you see in the photo.
And the liquid gold of the desert, mixed with the golden rays of the setting sun, revealed its singular, life-sustaining presence.

Followed by that very personal, singular feeling of inexplicable joy.

God bless to all,
Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Teacher: 2008-2010
Author: 2016-Present

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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Ben H. English

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

This past week has been a hard one in the state of Texas, and much harder on some than others. The utterly reprehensible, even evil, acts of a single cankerous sore upon humanity have sown heartbreak and discord which will ripple out for generations to come.

I was born in Uvalde, and by that time my mother’s people had already been there several decades. They were peace officers, firemen, farmers, bee keepers, painters, linemen and military veterans and each had a somewhat mild mannered, genteel quality that laid lightly over an underlying good natured wit and wisdom. Visiting them was always a blessing, and my boyhood was made full with their memories.

Then last Tuesday morning happened.

Soon enough, amid the grief and sense of irreplaceable loss the all-too-predictable vicious rancor and finger pointing began, aided and abetted by a sensationalist driven media, base political intrigues and crass, even vulgar public behavior by those who should know better.

Each were drivers of all sorts of rumors, ugly innuendos, cries of cowardice, and demand for easy, instant answers and solutions from a complicated, tedious criminal investigation, which in turn only added fuel to the already hellish blaze.

In the original Star Trek TV series, there is a tell-tale episode where an alien entity manipulates the natural emotions of the crew of the Enterprise, turning them into raging animals with no sense of reasoned thought or common decency. They become little more than bloodthirsty beasts, brimming with uncontrollable hates.

Meanwhile, the alien entity became only stronger and more formidable, as hate is what it fed upon and which served as its only reason to exist. When put into a Biblical context, the true enemy should become immediately apparent.

Those same thoughts came to me a few days later, as I worked my way through the upper reaches of the Tornillo Basin. Alone in this lonesome land where I find balance and sustenance, my mind wandered as much as my body as both drifted along farther away from anywhere or anyone else.

While so far adrift as to be nearly at the park boundary, I spied a mostly hidden spot with more than a few stories to tell. Turning up the wide, sandy creek bed, I began my usual zig zag pattern to better see what was around me.

Soon enough I came to the point of three dry pour offs, some twenty to thirty feet high and arranged in a semi-circular pattern. It was a wild, somewhat verdant place for the general location, made more so by water being usually present. The signs of javelina, coyote, deer, elk and of the big cat were in abundance, as well as the watchful shadows of the carrion birds soaring above.

It was the last pour off explored where the salve for my sagging spirit was found. Amid the twisted, gnarled trunks and branches of mesquite I spied the one in the photograph, making its last stand on the very rim.

Undaunted by lack of moisture, the blazing sun, its perilous position or time itself, this supremely hardy symbol of West Texas continued to take on all comers. Meanwhile below and coming through solid rock, a tap root reached for something to sustain it from below.

One word alone came to me while viewing this long-standing struggle, and I christened this never ceasing gladiator ‘Faith.’

For this is perseverance.

This is survival.

This is life.

And this is how we must fight our one common enemy.

God bless to all,

Ben

FUTURE BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:
(NOTE: THE EVENT IN MIDLAND HAS BEEN POSTPONED BUT WILL BE RESCHEDULED)
--HICO Friday-Saturday, June 10th-11th Billy the Kid Museum Old West Festival
--BOERNE Saturday, July 9th Patrick Heath Public Library, 11 am-3 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th The Core House Ministries Book Signing, 11 am-2 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th Faith and Freedom Celebration Speaker Medina Community Library 4 pm
--ABILENE Thursday, August 18th Frontier Texas! 3-5 pm
--ALPINE Saturday-Sunday, September 3rd-4th, Big Bend Gun & Knife Show, Pete P. Gallego Center
--SAN ANGELO Thursday, September 15th Stephens Central Library, 6-8 pm
Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol' (scheduled release June 2022)

‘Graying but still game’

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com
BEN H ENGLISH TEXAS AMERICA
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Ben H. English

BEN H English ~

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

“In this timeless desert I have wandered far and wide, miles upon miles on foot across some of the most inaccessible, inhospitable land found in the lower Big Bend in search of something special. Something to admire, something to ponder upon, something that brings back a memory of another time, an event, or a person now long since passed.

Those memories can be joyful, poignant, wistful, sad, even painful. But I have learned to embrace that pain, for without our pains from the past we would not be who we are today. And with much of that pain, there was usually an important lesson in life learned the hard way.

Few places bring back so many of those memories than Terlingua Creek. Our old ranch headquarters sat on high ground with it winding below us, not more than a couple of hundred feet from the house. The times I have crossed it on foot, by horseback, or by vehicle easily numbers into the thousands. Yet I cannot think of a single time when something within me did not stir upon doing so. That stirring brings back those same memories and emotions, time and again.

There are times, usually late in the evening, where everything is so still and quiet that you can feel the desert itself breathing. This wild, winding, ever-changing, and surprising old run, some seventy miles or so in length, serves as one of this desert’s main arteries to feed its singular way of living.

Without the Terlingua, the Tornillo, the Fresno and the Rio Grande collecting them all, this dessert would surely die.

And so would my memories…” --Ben H. English ‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’

This past week has finally brought the moisture this dry, parched desert incessantly thirsts for, and that is a very good thing. Much of this country had had no real measurable rainfall since last August, and everything from bird to bee to plant to animal, as well as man himself, was suffering because of it.

Yet this photograph from years back was a reminder that this is the way of the desert. A harsh, unforgiving land where survival can be a day to day struggle, or even an hourly one. The name given by the early Spanish explorers, ‘El Desplobado,’ has likely been repeated in other tongues now long dead for as long as man has been here.

Embrace such treasured visions of verdancy, my friends. For I have seen this part of Terlingua Creek as hot and dry as the unwelcoming gates of hades itself.

And such a time will come again, and sooner than you might think.

God bless to all,

Ben

FUTURE BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:

--HICO Friday-Saturday, June 10th-11th Billy the Kid Museum Old West Festival
--MIDLAND Saturday, June 18th Haley Memorial Library and History Center, 11am-3pm
--BOERNE Saturday, July 9th Patrick Heath Public Library, 11am-3pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th The Core House Ministries Book Signing, 11am-2pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th Faith and Freedom Celebration Speaker Medina Community Library, 4pm
--ALPINE Saturday-Sunday, September 3rd-4th, Big Bend Gun & Knife Show, Pete P. Gallego Center
--SAN ANGELO Thursday, September 15th Stephens Central Library 6-8pm
Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

Categories
Peace Truth

BEN H ENGLISH ~ TEXAS 🤠

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

When Lone Star Literary Life was conducting their tour for my book ‘Destiny’s Way,’ they asked for a playlist of songs to fit the story line. This was easy to do, what was hard was limiting my choices to a certain number of offerings.

Music had much to do with how Destiny’s Way was written, as music has had much to do with my life. When I am alone in this lonesome country conducting ‘boots on the ground’ research, certain songs go through my mind and often enough repeatedly.

Many of those tunes have been around for generations, some going back a century or more. Each mean something special to me and each in turn is enduring, much like the land I have used them to describe.

If Destiny’s Way has a theme song, it would have to be ‘La Golindrina.’ In fact, the lyrics start the book as a preface. I stated how some of these songs go back a century or more and this sad Mexican ballad has roots running back even further than that, to a time when Mexico was fighting desperately to free herself of a French-imposed emperor.

An additional thought in this: Several of the songs selected come from across the river, because things Mexican helped shaped the culture of the Big Bend as much as many of the contributing Anglo influences. In truth, they do not clash as much as complement each other.

Below you will find two different links to the song ‘La Golindrina,’ one with lyrics and one without. To set the mood for those who can only visit the lower Big Bend vicariously, I am also including a favorite photo taken some time ago.

This was taken during a mid-December evening and the sun was starting to set over El Solitario. I was standing in a saddle formed by Wildhorse Mountain, looking toward the Chisos. Appropriately enough, the peak for Little Christmas stands prominently in between.

I encourage you to enlarge the photograph on your screen and really listen to the music, without distraction. It will take you away to a different time and place, if even for a few minutes.

You will find the trip well worth the effort.

God bless to all,
Ben

Solo guitarra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-tQpvK8jqE

With lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh4MzFupw90

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
School teacher: 2008-2010
Author: 2016-Present

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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PEACE & TRUTH

Ben. H. English ~ American Author ~ Texas ~ Alpine

Good Morning!

For those who have been asking, the manuscript for my fifth book, ‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol,’ has been completed.

Select chapters were sent out to those who were intimately involved, or who lost loved ones in the incidents described. They, along with my cadre of advance readers, have been so supportive and glowing in their descriptions of what they found in those pages.

So much so, as to be emotional.

I understand, as writing ‘Black And White’ has been one of the harder things I have done in a while. Events once put behind now loomed as challenges ahead, and making certain that justice was done in the telling has weighed heavily upon me.

It has been said that the first duty is to remember. But on occasion, that can be a hard thing indeed.

But amidst the human tragedy and pain for noble lives taken far too soon were other memories, those which always seem to bring a smile or lift to the heart. Among these were photos from many a year ago, including the one attached to this post.

That is my older son Benjamin Levi as a baby, playing ‘speed cop’ in the front seat of my old Dodge Diplomat.

Life for children with a father for a peace officer can be a humorous one, and this photograph is prima facie evidence of that. ‘Speed Cop,’ ‘Police Story,’ and ‘Texas Ranger’ were games of habit played around our home. My boys grew up with a different perspective on life than most others.

But I do not think it hurt them much. Levi was an Eagle Scout, Class Valedictorian, Honors Grad at Annapolis, flew Harriers for the Marine Corps and now is a projects manager for Sandia Labs. He married very well and has a red haired, grey eyed daughter who is bound to make her daddy pay for his raising.

And Levi still likes to play with patrol cars. His most recent project is a retired Chevrolet Holden Caprice detective unit, one of the fastest of its type ever built.

The he hung a supercharger on this monster for good measure. Hold my DPS issued straw hat, Mad Max, and I’ll show you something.

Like they say the more things change, the more they remain the same.

And as always, please feel free to share.

God bless to all,
Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game.’

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PEACE & TRUTH

Ben H. English Texas

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

“If you can cowboy in this country without breaking your fool neck, you can cowboy most anyplace!”
–My Grandfather

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO:

Those words came back to me as I picked my way through the rocks, boulders and slides, working my way through a slot that led down to an old Indian camp I first found as a kid.

The thought occurred to me that Granddad’s exclamation, mixed richly with disgust as well as near reverence, could apply as truthfully to anyone hiking this land.

Behind was Tule Mountain and to my direct front some miles away were the Rattlesnake Mountains. There lies some tough country too, as most of the lower Big Bend happens to be in one way and another.

On the northern fringes of the Rattlesnakes and just beyond the park boundary sits the Valenzuela, a small place my family leased and utilized as a base camp to chase the wily wild burro.

And chase them we did, over these miles and miles of broken, desolate malpais between the two points. Right through this gap, matter of fact, and why I knew of that long-abandoned Indian camp somewhere below.

Yet it is one thing to walk out this craggy, corkscrewing land at a leisurely pace with a pack on your back, and quite another to be running across it hell-bent for election astride a half broke horse.

Gazing toward Lajitas Mountain in the far distance, I can still taste the barely controlled fear, the reckless tenacity and sheer exultation of a twelve year old already trying to prove himself as a cowboy, and as a man.

That was a long time ago, and those childhood dreams have gone the same way as those wily donkeys, as well as my grandfather. I haven’t sat on the storm deck of a, sure enough, the desert horse in decades and likely would fall off the first time he jumped one direction or another.

The last real English cowboy was my little brother Barry, and he has been dead three years now. This was the land where he started learning his trade and like my grandfather declared, he could cowboy most anyplace.

Yet I can still remember, still wish and still dream for those times now gone on and away.

And ponder about that twelve-year-old, who was trying to prove himself a man…

God bless to all,
Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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PEACE & TRUTH

Ben H English Author is Texas

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

“To a land so burnt and twisted,
To a country as barren as the moon;
I hoped to find, the Eldorado,
All I found were the hollow hopes that blow…..
In these desert winds.”
–Dave Stamey, ‘Desert Winds’

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO:

My sons and I share a saying for special circumstance and challenge; “It was a real Louis L’Amour moment.” When I topped out through the pass and looked into the red rock studded gorge below, those words came to mind again. It was exactly where a place like this should not be, tucked away like secreted treasure.

I had saddled up as the sun was rising over Mule Ear Peaks, heading for a pinpoint on an old Army tactical map where I had never been before. In the Big Bend country of Texas, there are usually four different ways to get someplace: the hard, the easy, the short and the long.

As a general rule the long and the easy blend together, though ‘easy’ is always a relative term in this harsh, unpredictable land. Same for short and hard, and since this was hopefully a one day hike, the latter was the order for the day. Still, I had plenty of gear and supplies in case I had to stay over.

The first half was over ground I had covered many times through the decades, utilizing wild animal tracks, creek beds, eroding remnants of ancient paths and natural terrain features. But once east of the Smoky Creek divide, I only knew the area in a general sense from skirting the edges, those old maps and the family tales from long ago.

Those and the words of Tom Alex, retired park archaeologist. In casual conversation he sparked the memory of my family tales, having been there himself. I left word that if I did not return to make contact with Tom, as he alone would likely know best of where I had wandered off to.

Climbing out of the Smoky Creek basin my course followed a fold between gray shale and black volcanic rock, before dropping into a veritable maze of jinking arroyos, gaps and small canyons that twist and turn like the stardust-studded routes of frightened angels.

Following where my nose led me, I descended into a likely crag and followed along until it cut through solid formations of black rock, forming an impressive pour off that fell into the lower desert below. But there was no spring, no oasis, no cottonwoods and no ruins referred to as ‘The Casita.’

Studying my map and knowing I was close, I reoriented myself from higher ground and spied a likely pass not more than a few hundred yards away. When I topped that pass, the land laid out before me just as pictured in my mind from those same childhood tales.

Sitting where no spot like this should be, amid acres upon acres of barren rock, boulder, greasewood and mesquite, and framed by the rugged multi-hued clefts of the Sierra de la Punta beyond.

No photograph, no written word could ever adequately describe what my eyes beheld, and the stark contrasts of this singular land running away in every direction. No roads have ever been here, and only one good trail that has long since ceased to exist.

Yes, it was a real Louis L’Amour moment indeed…

God bless to all,

Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’
The Stable Performance Cars
Lubbock Public Library
Tom Green County Library System
Creative Texts Publishers
Medina Community Library
El Progreso Memorial Library
Far Flung Outdoor Center
Billy the Kid Museum
Front Street Books
Dan Edwards
Dave Durant
Thomas Alex
Chris Ryan
Mendell Morgan
Vicki Shroyer
Bridgit Bailey-Giedeman
Sue Land
Julie Brunson Childs