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The Mountains are calling …

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Texas boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the United States. Some say that 1,000 people a day seek out the Lone Star State in search of fortune and fun. The largest state in the Lower 48, Texas is home to some of the largest cities in the country: Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Antonio. The sprawling suburban landscape outside these vast cities offers a chance for new arrivals to stake their claim in Texas. The cost of living is lower than many parts of the country, music can be found in so many bars and honky-tonks. The streets of the big cities are being revitalized by the influx of younger Texans with money to spend.

For twenty years, we called Texas home. We built a home. We raised a family. We worked…hard. We served our community and we served our State. But it no longer seemed like enough. The list of chores seemed to get longer. The days seemed to get shorter. The summer heat lingered for eight months out of the year. The once wild and special places have become overrun by those in search of an experience. Quiet and solitude has been replaced with crowds, subdivisions and social media. So much of Texas is still wild, but many of those parts are simply inhospitable. The small town of Kingsbury, Texas that we called home for 12 years was quickly becoming enveloped by strip malls, movie theaters and condominiums. Just a matter of time, I suppose.

Something was different. The focus seems to have shifted from the backroads of Texas to the concrete sidewalks of these urban centers. Whether it be the focus of politics, the influence of government, or investment by Texans looking for the next opportunity; farms were being sold to build subdivisions and small towns were being swallowed by suburbs. Farmers and ranchers seem to be a dying breed in a state that is defined by Longhorns and BBQ.

Adventure awaits. Something has got to change. In this great big country of ours, surely there is an opportunity to rediscover the rural life style. There must be a place where the seasons change and the climate inspires men to travel in to the wilderness. Where rock-bottom mountain streams flow through towering pines and green meadows lie in stark contrast with snow-topped peaks.

“We were wanderers from the beginning. We were bounded only by the earth and the ocean and the sky. The frontier was everywhere. When the drought was prolonged or when an unsettling chill lingered in the summer air, our group moved on. We sought a better place. We could always begin again. We were hunters and foragers – wanderers on the savannas and the steppes. We knew every stand of trees for a hundred miles. When the fruits or nuts were ripe – we were there. We depended on one another. Making it on our own was as ludicrous to imagine as was settling down. This zest to explore and exploit has clear survival value. It is an endowment that all members of the human species hold in common. It is not restricted to any one nation or ethnic group… [For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled. Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten.] We invest far-off places with a certain romance. The open road still softly calls. This appeal, I suspect, has been meticulously crafted by natural selection as an essential element in our survival. Long summers, mild winters, rich harvests, plentiful game—none of them lasts forever. Catastrophic events have a way of sneaking up on us, of catching us unaware. Your own life, or your band’s, or even your species’ might be owed to a restless few—drawn, by a craving they can hardly articulate or understand, to undiscovered lands and new worlds. Herman Melville, in Moby Dick, spoke for wanderers in all epochs and meridians: he said ‘I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas’…” (Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot, 1997.)

And so we go together as a family – To begin a new adventure. In search of the wild, the serene, the unexplored. As the Scottish-American naturalist, environmental philosopher and Father of our National Park system, John Muir said “The mountains are calling and I must go”.

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