Sunday, May 21, 2006

Camp Bowie

Howdy y'all. Spent Tuesday-Fri at an isolated army base with my brother. The only people we saw were the soldiers that initially checked us in and the various waitresses who served us food when we left the base to fix ourselves some dinner. We were tv-less, phone-less and internet-less for 4 days but it didnt matter none. We had each others, the coyotes, jack rabbits, bob cats, rattlesnakes and collared lizards all to ourselves, and thats all that mattered.

Our mission at Camp Bowie, Brownwood, smack in the dead center of Texas, was to find ourselves a Texas horned lizard. But let me tell you, those Texas horned lizards were about as ubiquitous as a regular high fat yogurt in a Texan supermarket. In other words, we didnt find one stinkin' horned lizard on the property.

Moose is doing horned lizard surveys on 4 army bases for the Texas National Guard and for his PhD project. Unfortunately not much research has been done for the lizard which is now a Texas state threatened animal so there is not much baseline data. During the 60s and 70s the horned lizard was abundant in almost every county of Texas but has been in decline for reasons unknown since the 80s. It is now locally extinct in most of eastern Texas. In 1996 they still abundant at Camp Bowie but surveys taken in 2000 and 2004 yielded 0 and 2 juveniles respectively. So far none have been found there this year. Perhaps the lizards are occuring at such a low density that we cant find them.

Research can only be done at the base when it is empty of soldiers training and practicing target shooting for obvious reasons. Unlike soldiers who are prepared to die for their country, we are not prepared to die for our horned lizards. We slept in the empty barracks. The simple, spartan buildings were made of unpainted cinderblocks and alternately reminded me of a jail and a lego set. Luckily we didnt spend much time there. Morning, noon and night you could either find us (if you had some kind of GPS locator on us) half lost on some unmarked back road of the base's 10,000 acre property or eating a meal that would inevitably give me a stomach ache or make my brothers face puff up at some backwards restaurant in Brownwood Texas. Those deep fried pickle chips were damn good in our mouths...damn it!

In the few hours we had contact with civilization we had to make a concerted effort to leave the hillbilly/ jive/slapstick theatre we created....Just hang loose blood. Shes gonna catch you up on the rebound on the medside. What it is big mamma? My mamma dont raise no dummies, I dug her rap. Cut me some slack jack. Chump dont want the help chump dont get the help....
You have to see "Airplane" to appreciate this quote which I probably mangled, but this was our conversation over and over again all day of which we never tired of speaking. Moose can recite it and a million other quotes frightningly well. I cant remember shit and should never attempt to act.

I havent lived with my brother since we were teenager and I dont think I ever spent this much time with him in my life. I think we're pretty compatible and Im really enjoying myself here with him. Its amazing how playing a charater from "Good Times" can diffuse any potential tensions (as long as its the privacy of our own home or car!)

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