Day 29, November 8, 1997: San Angelo, TX

As I write this I am two days behind on my writing. It is actually November 9th and I am in Eagle Pass, TX.

Bill and Grace spent the day showing me around San Angelo. One of the main events was to be a visit to the local state park where they had visited the previous week and seen a large number of buffalo and a huge longhorn steer. It turned out that I got closer to some entirely different animals.

In the park, the buffalo and longhorn were nowhere to be seen. While driving around looking around for them we came upon a sad scene. A small deer buck had gotten caught while jumping a fence and fallen with its right rear leg twisted between the top barbed wire strand and the mesh fencing below and was hanging with the hoof caught fast in the fence and its forequarters on the ground. I decided to try to free it, feeling that, since it was so small and so painfully trapped that it couldn't possibly harm me. Using some tools from the car's toolkit I managed to unfasten the barbed wire from the nearest post and was then able to separate the wires enough by hand to free the deer. It was still unable to get to its feet since the leg had more-or-less frozen in that position from hanging so long. Rather than stress the poor thing any more with our presence we decided at that point to report the incident to a park ranger and let them handle it.

It was while driving away from the scene that I was introduced to that other animal I mentioned. They have a type of ant in Texas that, from my experience, is one of the nastiest beasts in all of creation. While freeing the deer I was standing in some ankle-high grass that must have contained a nest of these fire ants. One of them crawled up my right leg, unfelt, and when I sat down in the car I got a bit of a shock. The ant, probably feeling my slacks tighten over it, decided to teach my knee a lesson by stinging it very painfully a few times. I guess that this ant's venom is formic acid like all the others I know of, but it must have carried a huge amount of it as my knee suddenly took on the feel of brushing up against a hot barbecue grill. It burned painfully for hours afterward and the next morning showed three large welts.

Oh, by the way. A few hours later when we checked back the deer was gone and the park personnel said that it was gone when they checked soon after being told about it. I like to think that it made it away safely and that the leg injury wasn't serious enough to cripple it. It was so small that it had a lot of growing to do.

Again today, I took no pictures worth sharing with anyone. By the prescience granted to me by the fact that I'm writing this on the day after, I predict that there will be pictures tomorrow as the 13,000 mile solo journey around the edges of the USA continues.


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