Parker County Today August 2016 - Page 6

A Letter From The Editor AUGUST 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY D 4 o you find yourself feeling a little sad when August rolls around? I do, just a little, because it’s the last full, official month of summer, although I admit in Texas there’s still a few more weeks of summer-like weather. (You know, all of them before December.) Still, the kids are back in school — not mine. I have fur babies. They could go back to obedience school, I guess.  Most people have wrapped up the major vacations by the end of August. Sometimes those expectations of a rip-roaring summer-fun-filled getaway experience have dried and shriveled like magnolias in the Texas heat.  Each year, I envision myself having loads of fabulous summer fun romping with my longtime boyfriend and my dogs on a beach somewhere. There I am — tall, blonde, tanned and fit in a sleek bikini in some bold color like orange, with my dogs wearing a corresponding color of collars and blinged-out bandanas. I stop occasionally to enjoy a frozen Mai-Tai with an umbrella perched on the side of the glass. I sip on the beverage before diving into the water to snorkel, surf and of course swim in the perfect cobalt blueness of the sea. Then I come out of the ocean and, of course, my hair dries to perfection in the time it takes to tie a sarong around my waist and slip into my high-heeled but comfortable flip-flops to take a stroll around the beach and buy wonderful, life-enriching baubles from the friendly, helpful tourist-area vendors. None of this ever happens with me, of course, because of several details of my life. First of all, I’m barely 5-feet tall and I have brown hair. I almost never drink alcoholic beverages and I have never worn an orange bikini. I didn’t wear bikinis when I was a teenager mostly because I had a father whose head would explode if I wore off-the-shoulder sundresses. (“You have no idea the sick, twisted things that men think of when they see a girl dressed like that,” he would say. I was afraid to ask, “What?”) My usual beach/pool attire is a onepiece with a skirt and matching beach jacket — that is the swimwear equivalent of a waterproof business suit. If Judge Q decides to hear a case in the middle of a water feature, I’m clad appropriately to go and cover it.  The second reason why my beach dreams never came true is because I can’t swim. Oh, I’ve tried to learn, but my overwhelming aversion to death and drowning serves to inhibit my efforts at swimming and has always put a damper on following directives from my instructors). Scuba diving, surfing and other ocean-related activities have never seemed like a great idea, all because I don’t know how to swim. I will wade up to my waist in the ocean. I love the ocean. I love looking at it. I love the feel of sand between my toes. I just don’t think it’s practical for me to get in the ocean, very far.  But without going on an exotic beach-related vacation there are great vacation possibilities. Last October we took our first trip in years. (It was kind of a working trip, really, but it was great fun anyway.) We rediscovered the American West. As a child, I traveled through the West quite a lot, because my father was in love with it, especially the Grand Canyon. Our family went there so much while I was growing up that I’m surprised we didn’t have a reserved parking space at the South Rim. We visited the canyon so much as a family that I found myself taking it for granted. (Not another majestic view? I want to see some plight. Why can’t we vacation in New Jersey?) Rediscovering the Grand Canyon was the best.  We took a helicopter ride into the West Rim, one that landed at the bottom of the canyon, allowing you to get out, explore a little and get to know your fellow passengers and maybe your helicopter pilot. It was crazy fun. Our pilot, whom we’ll refer to as Raoul (because that’s his name), shared with us cool stories about air sick-passengers and working for the government of Mexico’s equivalent of the DEA. He shared some hair-raising tales with us that seemed to make our fellow passengers, three schoolteachers from Maine, a little uneasy, but we were delighted. “Have the drug lords ever gone after you?” asked one of the teachers. “Often,” Raoul replied with a hint of mischief in his eyes. The teachers began looking around as if a Tom Clancy novel could erupt at any moment from behind the pinion tree. Loved Raoul.  Besides the majestic views, the lack of deadlines and the quiet, there was the shopping. I love to shop in odd little touristy gift shops. Growing up, I traveled quite a lot with my family, but no matter how much money I brought along that I’d earned on my own (I had an aunt who would pay me to simply shut up), my father wouldn’t let me buy what he charmingly referred to as, “useless gift shop crap.” He wanted me to save my money for more useful stuff like old age. When we traveled to the Grand Canyon last fall, the one thing I aspired to do was spend an entire day buying “useless gift shop crap.” I actually had squirreled away a few hundred dollars for such things. Seriously, I couldn’t wait to buy ceramic clay pots and scorpion paperweights. I’d talked about it at such length that we stopped at a Godzilla-sized gift shop/filling station/restaurant/ gift shop/crematorium in New Mexico. Our mission was actually to fuel up our car, but once that was done we went inside and I instantly recognized the place as one I’d visited with my parents as a “‘tween,” one where I had fallen in love with some piece of bric-o-brac years ago but my dad wouldn’t let me buy anything except a novel by Louis L’Amour. “You can’t go wrong with a Louis L’Amour novel,” my dad had said. “But buying that other stuff would be throwing your money away.” Now, I’m an adult and I can buy what I want with my money, nah, nah, nah. I riffled through the merchandise, marveling at how little their merchandising concept had changed over the decades.  There, I gathered earrings (that I fully expected would turn my earlobes green