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Almost 20 years of laughing and bonding on that river and somehow I knew when I was packing earlier that week, that he'd go when we were up there. After that, we saw him in everything; Cardinals on the bank, turtles on logs, crystal clear waves in the rapids.
OK - here goes.Long ago in a personality far, far away...My Church youth group in San Antonio (late 60s; early 70s; the Highland Hills Church of Christ) was led by a youth guy who really understood that teen boys NEED outdoor adventure, so our summer tradition was to have some kind of boys-only "wilderness experience." About 1970 or 71, our planned adventure was to build our own rafts out of huge truck-tire inner tubes and float down the Medina River for several days.Two complications unknown to us:(1) The laws were in flux between the old Spanish system that had land owners owning to the middle of the river and the current system that has the state owning the river and the flood plain.(2) Dirty hippies were of a habit to float the river without abiding by "leave no trace," and, much worse, just before we went on our trip, a group of floating hippies had desecrated an old family grave near the Medina. The result of both of these two items was that the old ranchers along the Medina were on the war path.The trip was great...except...We had noticed that late one afternoon someone was shadowing us on the bluff along the river.That evening we set up camp. My tent was the farthermost from the river. The landowner surprised us/me at dusk by sticking a rifle into my face (the end of the barrel looked as big as a wash tub). His buddy the sheriff soon arrived. Those over 18, including the youth director, were cuffed and stuffed. The rest of us were forced back into the river in the growing darkness to float the several miles to the next crossing bridge where we pulled out at about 4:00 AM.The next day we were all arraigned in (I think) the Medina County court. Even though I had done no wrong, my mom WAS FREEKING FURIOUS AT ME for smudging the family reputation. She would not and could not speak to me for days.The good news was that (I believe his name was) Dan Klepper, the outdoor writer for the San Antonio Express/News took up our cause. He chided our youth director for poor planning. But he BLASTED the land owner for (i) pulling a gun on us, (ii) forcing teenage boys back into the river at night, and for (iii) obviously using us a as revenge test case as the laws were being hammered out. His writing so shamed the people in Medina County that, on the day of our big trial, none of the "prosecution" showed up in court and the judge dismissed the case. My lasting claim to fame is that my name was misspelled in the Medina paper. Instead of Don Alan Prather, I was listed as the much more sinister-sounding "Dolan Prather." My buddies in the youth group and I took to calling ourselves "The Dolan Gang." My mom never forgave me. That was mid-July, and by the time school started up again that September, "The Dolan Gang" was legendary - and bad boys attract hot chicks!GREAT TIMES!!!!!!! You should see the smile on my face remembering that experience.
Thanks for the well wishes and DPrather, thanks for the laugh. Today we have visitation, tomorrow the services. Like it was last weekend camping, the conversation will center around Marty but it will be the funny stuff, the good times, the trips and other things. Although it's a funeral and a "sad" time, it will be a celebration of life. Funny I'm posting this to a bunch of people I don't know on a Big Bend web site. But, maybe it's fitting. Being out in West Texas, in the Bend, whether a solo trip or among friends, it still makes you feel so alive right? It awakens your conscience and reminds you how small we are, how short our time is. Makes you really breath in life and remember to not fret the small stuff. That's what I get from a lot of your trip reports. That's what I felt when I took my son...when I went back by myself, telling my wife "I need to be there alone". Marty was 51 years young. A year older than me. I wouldn't say too young to go. I just left our homicide unit after 2 1/2 years, there is no right time to die. But, like the Bend, this funeral stuff will make us appreciate all that we are. Again, it's a celebration of life.Thanks everyone for reading this. Thanks for the site.
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