Blue Note Café, Memphis airport-The sailor thanked me for the coffee as he firmly shook my hand. “It’s the least I can do for you” I replied as he gathered his bags for his flight home. The gentleman across the table said “You got his so I’ll buy his” as he pointed to a soldier seated nearby. Proof, that gratitude is contagious.
A stiff breeze blew across the strip as the Canadair jet touched down in San Antonio. Larry Bozka picked me up and we were on our way to the TOWA conference. (Texas Outdoor Writer Association) This year’s location was in the heart of Texas hill country, Kerrville.
We were greeted by fellow members as we made our way into the spacious lobby of the YO Ranch Hotel. After settling in, we attended an evening mixer featuring wild game snacks and great fellowship. Later, I hosted a dinner for the group I call the “Texas Posse”. These sage characters include; Steve Lightfoot, Susan Ebert, Shannon Tompkins, Mark Mantel and Bozka. Their stories were easily worth the price of the meal.
The following day featured a fine lunch followed by the “Breakout”. This event gives writers a chance to visit sponsor tables to see what’s new. A casting contest at the pool was conducted after breakout. Avid angler and writer David Sikes, bagged first place.
After a day of catching up on e-mail, I attended the excellence in craft banquet. Mr. John Thompson won the L.A. Wilke award, TOWA’s highest honor. Bozka purchased a beautiful Gerald Burleigh print for me at the silent auction. The underwater photo featured a Crappie with a Road Runner in its mouth. (Thanks Boz)
That evening, Kendall Hemphill and Bozka broke out their guitars. The gang sang along to Boz’s original “The Outdoor Writer’s Song” and several Robert Earl Keen tunes.
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast the next day with some fellow TOWA members. Later, Boz and I made our way to the banks of the Guadalupe River to cast a few Black Salty Baits. But the winds were gusting up the river and we quickly repacked our gear for a better day.
Bozka drove his Explorer deeper into the hill country to admire the scenery. We spotted three Axis Deer grazing along a tree line, a first for me. The hills, flora and waters were mesmerizing to this old Florida flat-lander. I’ve made a promise to myself to return to Kerrville and to fish the Guadalupe in earnest.
Another TOWA conference is in the books. The members left with some story ideas and memories of the fellowship that is the heart of the Texas Outdoor Writers Association.