River Road is a curious place to be. When you first turn down it, you might be convinced you’re headed the wrong way. “How can this barren wasteland of nothingness possibly lead to the river?” Then, you make some windy turns all the while driving 20 mph because that’s the speed limit and you never know what is around the next corner. Suddenly, you take the hard core bend by Slumber Falls rapids at the low water crossing and (RELIEF!) you see the majestic Guadalupe River in all her glory flowing through a beautiful campground. That’s Camp Huaco Springs to be exact and that is where I work.
The 5 mile stretch I drive daily from Loop 337 to the entrance of the campgrounds is usually devoid of cars or people during the off-season and can seem off-putting and eerie. During the prime-season, the narrow twisty road can be full of cyclists (bastards) cars, trucks, RV’s, campers, motorhomes, pop-ups, and tourists tootling along for the scenic drive all the way up to Canyon Lake.
In between all this human activity, there is wildlife – and A LOT of it. There are buzzards buzzing, squirrels on a suicide mission, (I swear they run out in front of you on purpose just to watch you panic!) slithering snakes, road runners running, mountain goats just chillin’ on the cliffs defying gravity and shit, cows – yes, cows – mooing along without a care in the world. There are more alien-like insects than all 3 MIB movies combined, and finally…
Deer. A shit ton of deer. Does, fawns, bucks… Bambi’s entire family seemingly domesticated as they meander across River Road practically daring you to speed up.
…and that’s where this story begins.
I got off work yesterday at the usual 4pm and pulled onto River Road. Everything was nice and normal, nothing odd or out of place – until I took the bend at Slumber Falls. I eased the curve slowly, knowing that some asshole may be hurtling around the curve at too fast a pace, most likely straddling the double yellow line and at any moment I could be facing a head-on collision, (yeah, that happens way too often) but instead I found a huge buck standing in the middle of the road. This was the kind of a buck a Texan would have stuffed and mounted on the wall. A trophy buck, and he scared the hell outta me! Now, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with deer before. Once, with all 3 of my kids in the backseat and another time on the way home from picking up my mom at the airport (Mother was NOT impressed.) With all this experience, I knew my truck was no match for that buck so I came to a complete stop. (Dangerous, I know. But really, there was NOBODY around.)
So there we were, me and the buck engaged in a staring contest. He didn’t look scared or intimidated by me as we locked eyes. It was weird; it was surreal. That buck was mad-dogging me like I’d shot and ate his fawn. This went on for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was probably about 30 seconds before I felt uncomfortable and looked down.
When I looked back up, he was standing next to my door, facing the same I was. I started to ease forward and so did he. I sped up a little, he sped up. I slowed down, he slowed down. I was terrified if I drove too fast, he would run out in front of me so we just kept each others pace as we passed the entrance to the Judge’s property.
I had my window cracked so I looked at him and said, “You want to race, buck?” as I revved my engine a little. He looked down, tapped his hoof (do deer have hooves, paws, or feet? I just don’t know these things) and I swear, smoke flared from his nostrils like a bull about to charge at the matador. “Oh my God, what have I done!?”
We started going faster and faster and that buck stayed right next to me all the way up to the River Road Icehouse where he quickly ran into the woods and out if sight. That’s also where I stopped and had a beer because you know, after an encounter like that – one deserves a cold beer.
Moral of the story:
Don’t pass the buck. If you handle your shit yourself, in the end you’ll be rewarded with a cold beer.