Arkayla Springs Nature Preserve

It all started in Langtry. In this tiny place in the Big Bend Country in Texas, USA, where Judge Roy Bean expected his great love Jersey Lily around 1883, but never met during his lifetime, see blog post: Langtry.

We met Sharon and Rod here. I can still remember the encounter very clearly: There were a few houses, a small museum, an old cemetery and the canyon of the Rio Grande. Berni and I enjoyed the view over the sluggish river on a simple wooden bench when we heard Johnny’s barking from the Postbus. We left the door open so he could keep an eye on us. Unfortunately, he saw everything else: A couple of our age was interested in our bus . . . and for him. Over time, however, Johnny developed into the fiery defender of our bus, which meant we had to give up our sunny spot to see what was going on.

Rod und Sharon

The two Canadians proved to be very nice. The friendly man says that they are travelling with their caravan in the southern USA because it is still very cold in Calgary in January. Somehow one must use the cold time meaningfully, because one cannot fly due to the poor winter weather conditions, yet. . . Wait a minute. What was that like? Flys?! With my rudimentary knowledge of English, I ask about his profession. Rod waves modestly: In Canada they use the plane like in Europe they use the car. You did? That’s hard to believe. We exchanged a few travel experiences. In the meantime, a border official had joined us in search of two boats that were on their way on the Rio Grande yesterday . . . ?! 

We talked for a long time. On leaving, Sharon and Rod invited us to visit them on our journey through Canada. We exchanged addresses and promised to stay in contact.

Since our accidental encounter I have been in active email contact with Sharon and Rod. I enjoy improving my written English. According to the motto: Learning by doing. And I’m eagerly awaiting the answers. Because we are getting more and more information: They live at the Arkayla Springs Nature Preserve. This is a huge area with its own forest, a small pond, an airfield and a house with a view of the Rocky Mountains. After the caravan tour through North America, Sharon and Rod cruised in their yacht around the Gulf Islands near Vancouver, where it is warmer around the time of year. Oh ha. Rod writes me all this with humility, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Nothing special.

Can we even dare to go to Arkayla Springs with our tiny yellow Postbus?

Arkayla Springs Nature Preserve

We felt a bit queasy when we drove the 900 m long access road from the gate to the higher situated house. Please only go 10 km/h, Rod said, because of the wild animals. We followed his orders well. Rod and Sharon await us radiantly in the front door of the open and friendly house. They immediately offer us their guest suites, which we thankfully refuse. We want to spend the night with Johnny’s in the Postbus.

Three wonderful days follow where Sharon spoils us with delicious Western Canada menus. A total of 8 km of hiking trails lead over the varied terrain, which we explore together. Johnny is allowed to run free and feels like he’s in seventh heaven. And every day we visit Frosty, the wild horse that the two support with fresh oats. Rod and Sharon are very animal-loving. Johnny, who moves into the house after the first day, also feels this. It’s too cold for him in the Postbus at night. And in the villa a warm basket awaits him. . .

Nothing is more beautiful than flying

Rod has been flying since he was 16 years old. It was his passion and he used it in his profession. For an oil and gas company he searched for oil fields and managed exploration projects. When he started, there was no Internet. The results of the test driling had to be quickly flown to the company for evaluation. No matter from where and no matter what the weather. He worked hard, he says. There were years without holidays. Often he had his dog with him, for him he created an extra place in the plane. They were a good team and known to the air traffic controllers. All in all, he had sat more in an airplane than in a car. He proudly shows us his two aircraft in his own hangar. Berni and I can’t get out of the amazement. If the weather gets better tomorrow, we’ll fly around. . . he promises us.

Above the clouds

The ground of the runway is still soft from the thawing snow and the first clouds appear in the sky. But after a short test flight, I’m allowed on board. I’m a little excited. When I flew with my daughter Viola over the Nasca lines in Peru, I felt sick. At that time it was a Cessna with max 8 persons. This machine is even smaller: Whole 4 persons. I’m sitting next to the pilot. Before the start Rod asks me if I want to fly or steer myself in between. That is quite simple. . . What’s that? Oh, dear! No, thanks. I have enough to do with looking and wondering. . .

„Above the clouds, freedom must be boundless,
All fears, all worries are said to remain hidden underneath
And then what seems big and important to us would be
Suddenly void and small.“ Song from Reinhard Mey

I can’t put it any better than that. It was an unforgettable experience. Thank you Rod and Sharon!

It began in Langtry, a tiny nest in Texas. A chance acquaintance that a dog named Johnny is to blame for. But a deep friendship arose that continues across continents.
Therefore it’s worth learning English!