It’s hard to exaggerate just how oppressive the Texas heat has been the last few days. We’re managing its effects on three fronts — ourselves, the dogs and, of course, Ernie. With cloudless skies and air that simply isn’t moving, we’ve waged the battle pretty much non-stop.

Scout and Dipstick are doing well — they’re dogs, after all. We keep them out of the heat as much as possible, making sure they have plenty of water and feeding them ice cubes.

Deb and I are growing accustomed to being drenched in sweat from mid-morning until well after sundown. (When I checked the temp at 7:15pm yesterday, for example, it was still 97°F.) We’ve slowed our pace, we drink lots of water and, whenever we can, we seek shade or an air-conditioned space.

I’ve been wearing that straw Stetson I bought Saturday. It helps.

I can’t remember the last time I had “prickly heat,” but by last night I’d developed a good old-fashioned case of it on my back. It goes with the territory, I guess.

As I said before, with 30A electric service here we’re running Ernie’s air conditioners one at a time — living space during the day, bedroom at night. All of the awnings are out. That scheme has kept the interior of the coach tolerable, if not necessarily cool, during daylight hours. We decided to take a couple of other measures to see if we could improve on those conditions.

We hitched a ride into town with our friends yesterday afternoon. First stop was the Bandera True Value Hardware — a remarkably well-stocked store for such a small town, with an excellent selection of RV parts and supplies. We picked up a 25-foot roll of 16-inch Reflectix (essentially bubble wrap faced in Mylar foil) and an oscillating tower-style fan.

We took our midday meal on Main Street at the O.S.T. (Old Spanish Trail) Restaurant, which has been in business since 1921. The décor is endearingly Old West, with actual saddles for stools at the lunch counter and an entire room paying tribute to John Wayne. The grub is classic diner fare — I ordered “Arkey’s Special,” which is two cheese-and-onion enchiladas topped with fresh (real Texas) chili, a scrambled egg and slices of jalapeño, served with warm corn tortillas on the side.

For dessert we walked across the street for a dish of creamy Blue Bell ice cream at the Bandera General Store’s soda fountain. I made mine “Southern Blackberry Cobbler.”

A sign behind the kitschy counter read, “We don’t have lowfat yogurt. This ain’t California.” By the cash register there was a bumper sticker for sale: “Cowboy Lives Matter.”

I bought it.

Back at Ernie afterward, Deb and I immediately threw ourselves into setting up and installing what we got at Bandera Hardware. She unboxed the fan and got it running in the living space. I cut sections of Reflectix, fitting them to the windows and skylights. It took every bit of that 25-foot roll.

We’ll wait and see how much of a difference that makes today.

Despite the challenges, we’re enjoying our time here in the Hill Country. The scenery is striking, the culture is rich and the people are full of true American grit. Our hosts, our friends, have rolled out the welcome mat for us.

Until late last evening we all sat out on the deck talking, watching deer emerge from the woods to feed, listening to the day’s last bird calls, gazing up at a starry Texas sky.

It’s a good place to be.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

(Drone image courtesy of our hosts)

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