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MORE CLOSE-UPS:  There's not much to say about this "eye candy".  Just enjoy.

Precautions on the Bluebonnet Trail
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

If there ever is a time to simply take a slow drive in the country exploring the numerous county roads, this is the season.  However there are a few facts worth knowing:

Trespassing used to be a light-hearted game of catch-me-if-you-can between a landowner and the local boys without any serious consequences.  Most of the time a little petty theft went along with the adventure -- such as liberating pockets full of peaches, a watermelon or two, or even a few ears of corn from their rightful owners. 


Trespassing was a rite-of-passage where such traits as courage, stealth and stupidity where honed to a fine edge.  Sometimes a honing strap was employed on the posterior of the culprit to commemorate the event.  Those were the good old days.
       Today trespassers are prosecuted.  Every now and again you'll see a "No Trespassing" sign alongside another saying "We Ain't Dialin' 911".  Once I saw a "Private Property/No Trespassing" sign nailed to the gate's corner post.  At the foot of the post was a man-sized mound of dirt with two boots sticking out the end -- toes pointing to Heaven. 
       Throughout the Hill Country, county roads cut through private property.  So it might not be a smart idea to stop and picnic under that beautiful Live Oak on the banks of that pretty little creek in a field of Bluebonnets. Could be a trap.
       A foreman I knew once surprised a city feller who was fishing on his ranch.  No law was called and no shots fired.  Out of sheer gratitude the feller "gave" the rifle toating foreman a new rod-and-reel and fancy tackle box.
       If you're not on state or county property you're trespassing.  And while driving around it is best to remember that this is not only deer country, but cattle country as well.  Likely you'll be going through more than a few ranches.  And there will be cattle in the road.
       Don't honk to get them to move on.  You will only attract more.  Virtually all of the ranchers honk the horns of their pickups to call the cattle for feeding.  Cows aren't particularly bright critters and your horn honking will probably make them hungry enough to eat your windshield wipers. Also, there are many new calves this time of year, and the normally docile cow will become aggressive if her calf is threatened.
       By the way, calves are very unpredictable when confronted with a  car.  Just when you think the little devil is well on its way it just might dart back across the road.  They're like teenagers -- with no real sense of mortality.
       Be warned. Hitting a cow with a car is a little like running into four or five deer all bunched up on top of each other.  Or perhaps a cowhide covered brick wall.  One moonless night a black cow ran into the side of my vehicle and walked away unharmed leaving a sizable dent in the passenger door that took $1,200 to repair.
       Also, many sightseers brake for wildlife -- even if   the critters are in a field 100 yards away, so be prepared to stop at all times.   Apart from dodging cattle, deer, rabbits, squirrels, armadillos, skunks and vultures you best keep your eyeballs pealed for two-legged idiots. 
       There will be cars parked everywhere -- even part-way in the road --  for yet another picture of  their occupants hunkered down if a field of Bluebonnets.  I'm not being critical.  There's hardly a living soul in Central Texas that doesn't have at least of two such pictures of themselves in that situation.  In fact, it's your social responsibility to yield to the moment.  
       Sometimes folks swarm all around their parked cars, leaving doors open, kids unattended and dogs on the loose so be extra careful.   Remember, you're driving a lethal weapon. 
       ( Who thought up the "Say Cheese!" command anyway?  What's cheese got to do with it?  Besides, if someone doesn't feel like smiling when they know it's expected of them, why make them feel worse by reminding them they don't look happy? )
       On some county roads, such as Willow City Loop, the traffic will be jammed, and some folks don't realize that the roads they're blocking are used by ranching families to run routine and urgent errands.  Be considerate and you'll be welcomed. 
       It won't hurt to give the "Hi Sign".   Just follow these simple instructions: With one hand on the upper part of the steering wheel raise your index finger to every oncoming vehicle.  That's it.
       "What's with these local chaps?" a gentleman from England once asked me. "When I wave they barely lift a finger?"   He couldn't decide if everyone was tired or lazy or both. Fact is, it's a sign of friendship extended to all even if you're not familiar with local custom. 

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