It’s a gorgeous mountain-and-canyon area in the Coronado National Forest, right over the New Mexico border. It actually looks like a mini-Zion National Park, but without the people, and with free camping, right on a river.
Mistah Schleckah and I really like free camping, right on a river.
Bill and I hiked up to the top of one of the trails, and were enjoying a beautiful moment of silence, solitude, and eachother.
Then we heard the unmistakable sound of people heading toward us. With a dog. We caught a glimpse of two older people heading our way and we just kind of sighed, rolled our eyes (“this is our spot!”) and got ready to head back down to the river.
What happened instead is we made 2 friends: Horton and Sandy Bunch, from Tyler Texas.
I said, “I was just looking in the bird book the other day and decided my favorite bird is the Painted Bunting.”
We said goodbye to our new friends, went east to Florida then south to the Keys then north to Connecticut then south to Asheville then west through the gulf states, and then in November of that year, went to Tyler to visit the Bunches. Actually, they’d sold their historic house in Tyler when their girls grew up, and lived in a double-wide on acres and acres of land out in Brownsboro.
Bill and I drove through dry county after dry county – we just wanted to bring our hosts a bottle of wine! – to no avail. We were chagrined, and quite confused, to find that not only is northeast central Texas full of dry counties, but no one seems upset about it.
We arrived without wine, had a lovely dinner at a fish house, and got into a very interesting political discussion that night. Horton was a dyed-in-the-wool, full-on Republican for his whole life . . . until George W. Bush. He then completely changed his political slant, and he joined the Democratic party with a vengeance.
The next morning, Horton gave us copies of Jim Hightower's newsletters, and off we went on our merry way.
This time, we bought wine in advance, we had a lovely dinner – along with another couple – at their home, and that night Horton showed us Jeff Foxworthy's “redneck” stand-up routine video. Horton’s laugh is loud, high, infectious, and completely incongruous – you do a double-take when you hear it coming out of him, then just go right along with it.
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Yesterday Horton’s son-in-law called and left a message for us. Horton was killed in a accident on Monday. He'd gotten out of his truck because he was having car trouble, and a passing van hit him.
The world lost a good one on Monday. Horton Bunch was good and devoted husband, dad, “Honey,” and friend.
Our hearts go out to Sandy and her daughters, her grandchildren and sons-in-law.