by Mike McHugh
KERRVILLE, TEXAS—Here in the Texas Hill Country, there’s no better way to spend a hot summer afternoon than to go for a dip in the river. Rivers here are different than those in Louisiana. For one, they are mostly spring-fed, making for a cool, clear, and refreshing swim. But more importantly, the rivers here are generally devoid of alligators.
For these reasons, my wife and I were excited when the folks at a neighboring camp here at the Kerrville Folk Festival invited us to join them one afternoon for a trip to the nearby Medina River. The plan was to carpool to the town of Medina, which boasts a store that serves fresh apple pie, a small park on the river, and not much else. Unbelievably, it didn’t even have a Starbucks.
Here at the festival, schedules are less reliable than those for a commercial airline, and so it was nearly closing time at the apple pie store by the time the troops herded up and got down to Medina. There, the ten of us split a single pie the size of a satellite dish (this is Texas, after all), and then it was off to the river.
The town of Medina consists of a single main avenue with four cross streets. It’s a place where real skill is needed to get lost. Tom, who organized the excursion, was apparently a gold medalist in it. Up and down the main avenue he drove, looking for a church where the turn to the river was supposed to be. But there was no church to be found. This being a Texas town, it was more surprising than not finding a Starbucks.
Tom stopped at the post office to ask directions, which I thought admirable for a man to do without a woman’s prodding. However, the one postman in the town was out, either delivering mail or being treated for a dog bite.
Eventually, another of our drivers, a girl named Charlie, mentioned that she knew of a different spot nearby, and so off we went following her out of town to the south. “Well,” I told Tom, “her spot does have one advantage over yours.”
“Oh, you’ve been there?” he asked.
“No,” I answered, “but she knows where hers is.”
My statement turned out to be in error, as became evident after 15 miles of following her. “We could have turned down every street in Medina in this time, church or no church,” Tom commented.
“We could have turned down every street in San Antonio,” I added. “Maybe her spot is on another river.”
“Like maybe the Rio Grande? What do you say we turn around?”
All of us in the car agreed, and Tom pointed the vehicle back toward Medina. “I’ll call Pam back at the campground. She knows where it is,” he said. I thought that was a good idea, yet I harbored a silent fear of Pam’s directions making reference to a Starbucks.
They did not, fortunately, and we found the swimming hole, passing Tom’s landmark church along the way. It was not on the corner as he thought but down the street, almost to the river. It goes to show that the small details are important when it comes to directions. Still, I can forgive Tom his little mistake. None of us died because of it, although the outcome may have been different if it were Newark, New Jersey, rather than Medina, Texas.