Updated: Aug 30, 2018
Half a decade before the turn of the century, alone and wandering along northern curves and oxbows of the Rio Grande, I found this spot while roaming silently and aimlessly about–seeking peace from insane churn and turmoil of so-called civilized life.
The global corporation I had been working for since 1990 was laying off workers by the thousands due to a long downturn in the price of oil. I heard tell of a disgruntled employee at headquarters in Houston receiving his pink slip then using a company forklift to pick up a company vehicle and roughly setting it down on top of his fat boss's personal luxury sedan, crushing it beyond repair before leaving the premises.
I was surviving the layoffs, somehow, and knew it was risky to take a vacation while they were happening, but chose to go anyway, deciding I wanted to use the time off before receiving notice of my termination. Besides the insanity going on at work, I was deeply unhappy in my personal life and had been for several years after marrying for the first time. I could see no clear path out of the horrible situation I had so stupidly stepped into but had been told before leaving for vacation that if I wasn't laid off then the company was going to relocate all survivors to the headquarters office on the west side of Houston just off of Highway 6.
I sensed an escape vector in that possible outcome.
I stopped and sat for a long time, eating a light lunch while watching gentle current and eddies of the river and listening to its almost inaudible gurgle as it washed over a low ledge of ancient lava flow. The late summer day was overcast by thin, white clouds and a distant ground-hugging fog struggled to dissipate as the morning air warmed. Prairie dogs chirped nearby. A small flock of Canadian geese sailed by heading south following the river's flow, honking lowly mere yards in front of me. Eventually I stretched out and dozed then slept deeply, dreaming of flying downstream.
Usually, my flying dreams occur only after completing some major endeavor or successfully escaping a dire life predicament unscathed. Neither had occurred recently although there had been many of both by that point in life. I suppose I was in mid-life crisis at the time, seeking peace anywhere I could find it. The riverside slumber and flying dream were just what I needed right then.
In dream flight, the riparian environment offered sights and sounds never before experienced from an elevated, mid-river point of view. I had canoed a lot of rivers and wanted to canoe this one too but had not yet done so. I guess all of the canoeing provided some insight into what the low-aerial view might be like. Soaring downstream, the flock of geese, now floating on a calm patch of water, turned to look up in recognition at me as I passed overhead. They seemed to know I would be coming soon. Banking eastward and then westward as the river twisted through the weak places in the lava bed, its channel narrowed and deepened. The calm flow picked up pace and grew white and noisy in spots. Then I was in the gorge between steep walls flying mere inches above whitewater. Dipping down, the cold spray cooled the front half of me while emerging sunlight warmed the other half. The gorge bridge came into view with cars and people moving over it. Flying under it, I laughed long and loud at the ground-bound people as I continued south toward the river's gulf-coast delta.
Several years later, the dream of flying over the Rio Grande would actually come true . . .
. . . thanks to a lifelong friend's incredibly generous gift of ballooning over and down into the gorge.
Thanks, Gary, Betty and Cade for this gift. It's one of the finest I've ever received in my life!
Upon returning to work, I was promptly informed I would indeed have to move to Houston if I wanted to continue working for the company. My wife refused to go. I gladly agreed to the move, grateful for continuing employment. Moving myself in two quick trips (the company did not offer any relocation package or reimbursement), I was soon set up in a westside apartment near the office to avoid long commutes in horrific Houston traffic. Having lived in Bellaire as a youth, it was an interesting experience to be back after so many decades and I stayed there for a full year thoroughly enjoying life alone again.
A favorite Saturday lunch spot near the apartment on westside Houston.
I bought a surf kayak and spent every free day exploring waters along the gulf coast from Sea Rim State Park down to Padre Island National Seashore–encountering pods of porpoises surfing inside crests of the larger waves, paddling quietly across flat water over huge fevers of golden rays, coasting on gently rolling waves above massive blooms of cannonball jellyfish and on paddling trips further from shore, encountering the occasional man-o-war sailing on the surface from who knows where to wherever the winds and currents took them. After long, serene days paddling from sunrise right up to sunset, evenings were spent dinning at any coastal roadhouse offering fresh seafood fare and soaking up live blues and zydeco anywhere I could find a band performing.
As I thoroughly explored the Texas coastline, my escape vector was steadily solidifying. I decided I would leave Houston after no less than a year had passed in gratitude to the company for not laying me off. Sixteen thousand lines of solid, new C code and thirteen months later I bought an airline ticket for the"wife" to come help me pack up to move back north. She reluctantly flew down to Houston and openly bawled right in front of me about my impending return as we packed, obviously not anxious to have me back in her life. While I was in Houston (and unbeknownst to me) she had bought her brother's crappy old prefab house and moved into it. She proposed staying married but living apart, for what twisted purpose was beyond me. I dutifully went through motions of trying to reunite with the ungrateful woman who had abandoned me (even installing a new floor and building a large deck on her crappy prefab house), fully aware that our reunification would never succeed, and very glad to know it.
A couple of years later I filed for uncontested divorce in a downtown Dallas courthouse, paying the $15 filing fee and presenting the case in court myself without help of a blood-sucking lawyer. The judge readily ruled in my favor after less than five minutes of consideration and checking over my paperwork. He signed the decree and I sent a copy of it to the 2nd party. Her pathetic response to me upon receiving the final decree was accompanied by a poorly faked sob: "Tell my mother it wasn't my fault!". Uh huh. In your dreams, nutbag.
Escape vector achieved.