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Waltzing across Texas Willie Nelson Back Yard Picnic Austin Texas July 4, 2010

The Whitlow bunch waltzed across the great state of Texas for July 2010 vacation. The first leg of the trip ended us up on the blazing sun all day sitting up against a fence on the ground at the Willie Nelson Backyard Picnic in Austin Texas. The music was great, the atmosphere was horrible. Willie got a haircut. Boy was it hot. I cracked an egg and put it on the ground next to me and it fried. We had to sit cramped up on the ground near the outhouse in some rocks next to the only shade we could find, an old wood fence. Mesquite Trees do not offer much shade. There were a few chairs by the stage and on a hill about 100 yards from the stage, but they were reserved months ago and cost a million dollars each. We were stuck to the far left of the stage and got a Birdseye view. Next time I will watch it on CNN. The majority of the crowd seemed older than my 61 years. I saw people falling over 3 pronged walkers and falling off of scooters. Willie was the last one to sing and by the time he took the stage, a lot of fans passed out, died, or just plain gave up and left. If I ever go again to an outdoor concert, I am not going to leave the house until after dark.

They would not let us bring in any tarps or yard chairs. We had to pay 5 bucks for a beer. We could not bring in any ice chests or food. The lines in the food lines were 2 hours long. When we finally got served, all they had left was cold slices of turkey and bread at 7 bucks each.

The next day went terrific. On July 5 we had a meeting with the top officials at Texas TCEQ about acquiring a license to conduct smoke schools in Texas. Texas has extremely strict rules for conducting smoke school. I have tried many times since 2005 to get the license, but failed. The problem is my entire fault. I admit that I am as stubborn as a mule. I am an old inspector, smoke school provider, and mainly a maintenance man. I am not a business man, nor am I very good at arguing, or completing complicated forms and letters for licensing. I recon I am still just a moron and a peon. This time I decided to do it right and let Paul and Angie do most of the talking. Me and Paul learned our education in the cities of the nation me and Paul. I guess Austin is geared for me and Paul.

I chose Paul because he was the only employee who said he would go. Actually I chose Paul because he is the peacemaker. I have been working with Paul for 30 years and I like to hang around him because he makes me feel good about myself. He drops in to see what condition my condition is in. Blessed are the peacemakers because they are rare and they will inherit the earth. I just mailed out a letter to the Methodist church because Paul wants to be a preacher. I was a lay preacher one time in the Assembly of God Church when I was stationed in the Air Force in Altus Oklahoma. I guess I missed my calling. Paul will be a great preacher. Paul is a people person. Paul also ran the Louisiana DEQ Monroe Office for 30 years, and he knows how to talk the upper level management language. Paul’s lovely bride, Sue, is a professor of nursing at University of Louisiana at Monroe. Sue agreed to help Paul submit the paperwork and rewrite our special Texas Classroom Workbook, lesson plan, and PowerPoint.

I took my special bride Sweet Angie because she managed the respiratory care unit of several Indiana and Illinois hospitals for 30 years. Angie is the only one of my 9 wives who puts up with me. She is also a people person and talks that upper level management language. I decided to get a fresh haircut, shave my bald spots, and most of my beard. I poured on half a gallon of Channel Number 5, and Miss Clairol to hide the gray in what little hair I got left on the edges. Then I put on my girdle to keep my belly from flopping around, and then put on my and rarely used Al Capone Pin Stripped Suit and a new pair of shoes. I was determined to bite my tongue, smile and let Angie and Paul do all of the talking. I told TCEQ I was just along for the ride and to see Willie Nelson. We have a very good shot at getting approved and I hope to be conducting smoke schools in Texas by October 2010.

Looks like I got a cow by the tail bull by the horns

Uncle Buck and Sweet Angie and the Bull played himself

That night we all had a wonderful real Texas Steak Supper and took a boat ride in the river to watch millions of bats fly out from under the bridge. My very favorite part of the Texas vacation was the Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne Texas. I loved the gun fights and the entire cowboy atmosphere. We also really enjoyed the River Walk in San Antonio.  San Antonio changed my life back when I was a young buck. I survived USAF basic training at Lackland AFB in the blazing heat in the summer of 1969. The air force taught me how to be a man. My most memorial experience was being lonely and homesick. I really missed my momma and daddy. I remember the mail call and all of the letters that my momma wrote. I remember how big I smiled and how happy I was to see my momma and daddy on that first Saturday off.

Enchanted Springs Ranch-Billy Bob, Aaron, The hanging sheriff, Uncle Buck

I also got my first real beak in life in 1976 when the good Lord led me to train in Environmental Health at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks AFB, in San Antonio. I had dropped out of college and failed chemistry 19 times, when I experienced the air force training methods which I still use today in smoke school. Perhaps the real reason for the effectiveness of air force training is the discipline. I still remember the words of the training instructor. “Stare the back of that man’s head off. Keep your mouth shut and listen.” I guess not being able to drink beer with my friends all night helped.

We topped off the Texas vacation in Galveston. When I was a young buck momma and daddy often made weekend trips to Galveston where we slept in an army tent on the beach. We had already been to Gulf Shores this summer and Galveston is nothing like the Alabama or Florida coast. The water was brown, muddy, and full of seaweed. The beach sand was not is pure and white as snow. But we did not see any evidence of the BP oil slick which by now had made it to Gulf Shores. The Galveston beaches were packed and all the hotels were full. It looked to me like the tourists forgot their Florida and Alabama vacations and when to Texas. This BP oil blast will kill the economy of the entire southeast United States.

I hired a fishing guide to take us out on the bay. He warned me ahead of time that the winds were high from the southwest and it would be very choppy and we would not catch very many fish. He was absolutely right. The waves were so choppy that it really upset my backbone and hemorrhoids. Aaron and Billy Bob got seasick all over the boat and we only caught a few trout, and a few catfish. I keep saying that I will never hire a fishing guide or a hunting guide. When will I ever learn?

All in all when all is said and done, we had a great Texas vacation. We plan to top off the summer this time in real style. I have always wanted to go to Branson Missouri so we are leaving on August 12. I will keep you posted. I want to take time to thank all of you and the good Lord for your contribution to our company, our family, and increasing beyond imagination to our quality of life. I guess momma and daddy were pore when I grew up, but I did not know it. Daddy was a cop and momma sold catalogs on the road for Sears and Roebuck. After the Vietnam War, I spent a lot of years on a trot line fishing for catfish, unemployment, and food stamps. I barely got by for 13 years on military pay with the child support and alimony from my 9 wives. My state Louisiana DEQ salary for 17 years left me dead broke by Monday after payday. All of you really have changed my life and proved like the old toad frog, if you keep trying, you will succeed. Thanks for your time, patience and for listening. Be well, do good work, and stay in touch.


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