Is It All Downhill from Here?

The Texas Story Project.

I enjoy experiencing new places but I don’t enjoy travel preparations or living out of a suitcase. I have never made a bucket list of any type and after some reading on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that there are as many negatives as positives in making a personal and/or travel bucket list. That being said, I have accompanied my husband on his photography trips to many beautiful places in the world.

For years I yearned to climb Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg, Texas. A few years ago we stayed in Boerne and visited areas of the Hill Country that I vaguely remembered from childhood. Living in the San Antonio area until adulthood, I always considered it to be a city that was conveniently located to travel to the Hill Country, West Texas, and coastal regions. In Texas, we have spent time visiting missions, made day trips to see the Painted Churches, ventured into East Texas, made time to see wildflowers in the Brenham area, traveled to Lost Maples, visited numerous state parks, and made side trips in the coastal region near our vacation home.

It was the trip to Enchanted Rock, however, that was very special for me. I had wanted to climb the rock at a much younger age but I am proud to say that I finally made it to the top even if I was giving my husband dirty looks and muttering that I had wanted to do this when we were younger…not in our 60s! The view was spectacular and as an old country song goes, I saw "miles and miles of Texas.” I truly felt like a native Texan that day to have managed to climb to the summit of this huge pink granite boulder and part of the reason was because of a reference J. Frank Dobie, a Texas folklorist, made about the people who were "out of the rock." Maybe I can truly say that now as my Texas roots run deep for many generations and I finally climbed Enchanted Rock.

I thought we would have a quiet Christmas at home with family in 2013. The Hill Country adventure in the fall had been all that I had expected until my husband announced that he was taking me to see the Rockettes in New York which had been a lifelong dream of mine. The Christmas show was spectacular and visiting the World Trade Center Memorial and the Statue of Liberty were very meaningful excursions as well. Though we had a wonderful trip, I was glad to finally get home to Texas. There were last-minute Christmas details to take care of and we needed to plan a family dinner.

I was not prepared to hear my husband say that I was "welcome" to go with him to New Mexico and Arizona so that he could take photographs after Christmas. Road trips can be tiring but a great way to see the country. Traveling back roads is an even better way to travel if you have time. We traveled from the White Sands of New Mexico which reminded me of snow, to the Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona where I found inner peace in tranquil surroundings, on to Monument Valley and the Flagstaff/Sedona area, dragging into Van Horn, Texas at 2:00 a.m. New Year's Day, to finally driving all day the next day to get back to Houston. We experienced so much in a very short period of time. A meaningful aspect of the trip was meeting a Navajo guide in Monument Valley who shared the beliefs and culture of his people and took us to special places for photography. A New Year’s Eve sunset in those remote surroundings is as good as it gets. The sunset as we approached the outskirts of Houston was equally beautiful and we stopped in the countryside to take pictures. The Texas sunset picture that I took now hangs on a wall in our vacation home.

As with most trips, I have always taken home with me a particular visual memory, a scent or sound that lingers in my mind, or some special thought about someone who I have met along the way during the journey. I have had so many wonderful life experiences that I don't think I really need a bucket list. Maybe what I need to do is to stop contemplating advancing age and wondering if it is all downhill from here. Maybe it is and maybe it is not. I have wondered though if I could ever climb Enchanted Rock again or would even want to make the attempt. The descent on that beautiful autumn day felt almost as difficult and challenging as climbing to the top. I thought it was a splendid view of miles and miles of Texas.

Sherrill Pool Elizondo graduated from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) with a degree in English and Education. She is a sixth-generation Texan and is interested in genealogy. She's been an aspiring writer for over 40 years and is the proud parent of three sons. She has six talented and remarkable grandchildren who now all reside in the state of Texas.

Her stories have been seen online at Boomer Cafe, Bullock Texas History Museum, 70 Candles, Grand Magazine, Texas Escapes, and Garden of the Gods Magazine in Oregon. She was born and raised in San Antonio and lived most of her adult life in the Houston area. Recently she and her husband moved to their vacation home in Rockport, Texas. This story was first seen on Boomer in 2018.

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