Wanderlust, it’s an affliction really. I have always had a sense of exploration, even as a child. I would often take off on my bike and see how far I could ride. As an adult, nothing has changed. I often take an afternoon and just drive. I LOVE to go nowhere in particular, just drive. Turn the cell phone off, roll the windows down, play a little music, don the shades and go see what’s out there.
A while back I took off after work on a Friday afternoon and set out on one of these drives and ended up in a subdivision that was being built out in the middle of nowhere’sville. I was somewhere in Blanco County I think, perhaps Llano. I had been on the road for an hour and a half turning left and right every so often so I don’t know for sure.
It was one of those places were the well-to-do city slickers play ‘rancher’ by purchasing 10 or so acres or as the entrance sign called them, a ‘Ranchette’. It was in the beginning stages so there were no houses built, only the Sales office stood with it’s freshly stained cedar siding and a porch that stretched across the front. An old horse-drawn wagon was set off to the side. Multicolored streamers spanned the distance between tree and office and back again. The real estate company’s sign had a giant picture of a smiling blonde lady with super white teeth that stared at you as you approached. Everything was so neatly tucked under the shading branches of a huge oak tree. The marketing people were doing their best to set the stage. The salesman, or lady I guess, had long gone but I drove by slowly looking for any signs of security. I didn’t see any so I didn’t bother to stop.
The streets were somewhat cut in. An old yellow D-9 Cat (bulldozer) sat idle in a clearing waiting for Mr. Construction Man to come start it up again Monday morning to knock down some more trees. I kept driving and the little boy in me wondered what it would be like to drive one of those things. The streets soon faded to gravel roads then to jeep trails which then faded to matted grasses and then finally, nothing. I guessed from then on where the road might go. I drove around stands of huge oak trees and groves of evergreen cedars. Followed a small shallow stream-bed then crossed it when I could. I bounced over rocky outcrops and dodged budding cacti. Scared some turkey and of course stopped and spotted some whitetail deer that were stamping their hooves in disapproval of my presence. I had apparently disturbed their early evening meal of freshly fallen acorns. Rabbits darted out from under this scrub brush to that one over there and a squirrel leapt from branch to branch chasing another in what I can only assume was a game of tag. I slowly made my way back farther and farther away from the paved highway and the buzzing and humming wheels of the passing trucks. After 40 minutes or so I crested the top of a hill and stopped. The view was breathtaking. Being a Texan I have no shame in saying this, very little in this world compares to the Texas Hill country on a clear cool afternoon in late October. The smell of cedar was in the air and the wind had the slightest Northern nip to it. The setting sun was laying a golden blanket on the valley and surrounding hills that stretched out to the horizon. There were no clouds and I could see for miles. It was simply beautiful. I stood there under an oak tree and thought how stunning this place was and how privileged I am to witness it. I looked up into the tree and saw a dilapidated deer blind. It obviously had seen better days. The wood is now a silver-gray in color and splintered. Branches have grown in and around and over parts of it, the rest lies rotting in a pile at the base of the tree covered by years of leaves and dirt. Rusted nails stood exposed in the side of the tree holding nothing other than a few stands of Spanish Moss that blew in the wind. I took in a deep breath and smiled, this was a perfect spot for an impromptu camp sight and a good conversation with God. I would not be going home tonight. I gathered some fallen branches and the pile of rotting wood from the deer blind and made a small fire. I rolled out my blankets that I keep in my truck box and laid there with the gentle breeze blowing, smoking my pipe and reading Wild at Heart by John Eldredge in the fading light of the sun.
As light gave way to the hues of blue and purple and then finally black, the stars began to make their appearance; one here, then a few over there, as if gathering for a show to watch and marvel at the splendor of God’s creation. Conversation was good, as it always is. You learn things from God when you give Him the time. You learn that you are loved like no other. Cuddled by the warmth of the fire and my soul now satisfied with time spent communing with my God, I listened to the crackling fire as my eyes began to grow heavy. And with the mental image of God sitting next to me tending the fire, I welcomed the mistress of slumber.