|Camp Hodag or Life on the Ranch
John has named his ranch after Rhinelander's mythical beast and school mascot. He has named his road Hodag Road.
The ranch is really cool. They have a new custom home with 3 bedrooms, native limestone siding, a great kitchen, and Direct TV.
John has a great shop building, a carport for his John Deere tractor and accessories, pump house, storage shed for his deer food and a few other assorted sheds. Down the road a little ways is the old trailer and house he and Tracie used for years while they cleared the land and graded for the new house.
The work those two have put into the ranch was grueling, to say the least. Every tree had to be chopped down and stumps pulled up. Cactus had to be cut back, thick brush had to be cut, and large clumps of limestone rocks had to be moved. What an incredible project!
We all loaded up onto their golf cart for a tour of the 40 acres. We went by some hunting blinds, wild animal feeders, and even a flock of very curious Emus from an adjoining property. They had hacked out several trails around the property from the thick foliage.
They have a great porch to sit on to gaze out to the west to catch the sunsets. We ate outside for all our meals while there. Dinner was ribs and Amber Jack fish on the barbie.
We sat out and watched the stars come out. There are no towns or cities nearby to mute the stars and they were brilliant.
Early the next morning John and I went out dove hunting. I had the ole Ithaca 16 gauge side by side that my mother used to hunt with. John had a 12 gauge. We both carried large caliber side arms in case we encountered the very large wild hogs that roam the high country. He is trying to keep them off his land so he can build up a deer herd and other wildlife. The hogs are aggressive and tear up fences and even have pulled one of his feeders down.
We didn’t get anything, but heard one of the big hogs rutting around in the thick woods. John has killed several hogs in the 250 pound range. He says they get even bigger. I have since read an article about a hunter that just killed an 800 pound hog in Oklahoma. Apparently the wild hogs have become a problem for both states.
It was great to be out in the woods as the sun comes up over the land. Those are special moments of the day.
After a great breakfast, John and I worked on getting his tractor started up. The battery had suffered from the scorching summer heat. On about the third attempt we got it running.
Now came the moment Nancy and I had both been dreading, the ride out. Before we had gone less than a 100 yards, I got the Rocketeer jammed up against an oak tree that I almost hit with ‘the Neighborhood’. When I tried to back the trailer up, the grade gave out a little and the truck settled firmly against the tree.
What a project to escape the tree. John went and got the John Deere, chain saw, chains, and a ladder. It took an hour, but we managed to get the tree cut down without crushing the real panel of the truck.
Once free of the tree, we drove down the narrow driveway and through the gate and out onto the dirt 4 wheel drive road. Lucky us!
With John and Tracie following in their truck, we took on the steep rutted dirt road leading out to civilization and salvation. I had to floor the accelerator to get over the crest of the 18% hill. I had one moment of ‘what if we can’t make the top?’ But then we crested the hill and were on our way.
They followed us out to where the pavement started and then went back to the ranch to finish a few chores before the 5 hour drive back to their home in Waco. We made plans for them to come by the RV Park we were headed for near Kerrville.
Just because we were now on the 8 foot wide paved section of road our difficulties were not over. We still had to negotiate numerous steep grades before we hit the bottom lands.
We finally made it to the Guadalupe River RV Park and Resort. I can’t tell you how relieved we both were to be landed on the fringe of civilization next to the sparkling, turquoise colored Guadalupe River.
The ranch visit would have been much more fun if we didn’t have the ride back out on our minds. Next time, we will leave ‘the Neighborhood’ down in the flats while we visit the ranch.
But many thanks and a tip of the hat to John and Tracie for their hospitality on their incredible ranch. What great memories we have come away with!
When we arrived at the idyllic park, I realized that in all the morning’s excitement, I had lost my cell phone. Luck and the good Lord were with us again. Tracie had found the phone lying in the dirt near where our chairs had been set up. When they drove up for a final farewell at the RV Park on the river she had my phone in her hand. Thanks to ‘the finder’.