Monday, August 08, 2005

There is much to see in the Texas Hill country

We had a short but very lovely ramble through Fredricksburg, Texas. It is peach season and the fruit stands offer baskets of lovely fragrant peaches.

Living on the Texas coastal plain, any hill is a pleasure so I thoroughly enjoyed driving through the rolling countryside. The Hill Country is dotted with live oaks and cattle. There is more development since the last time I was there (some eons ago) but it still seems very quiet and even lonely. Windmills and small clusters of cacti are sprinkled across a landscape that is uniquely Texan.

Fredricksburg is such a pleasant city. Main street has lots of "shoppes" and restaurants. It was hideously hot (it is August after all) but I still refrained from entering stores with potpourri fumes wafting from the doorways no matter how enticing their AC was. Did find a quilting store and got some fabric and a f-e-w other things.

Found some bratwurst and red cabbage for lunch along with a Rio Blanco Pale Ale from the Real Ale Brewing Company. Very tasty.

We visited the The National Museum of the Pacific War which is now part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It is also known as the Admiral Nimitz Museum. I was immensely touched by the number of fathers and sons working their way through the exhibits together.

Many years ago during a visit to my eye doctor, I ended up in a conversation with a WWII veteran who was also waiting for his appointment. He was wearing a hat with the profile of a ship on it. (I wish I could remember which one it was.) When I asked him about it he told me it was in Iron Bottom Bay, sunk in the battle for Guadalcanal.

He went on to tell me about of the ship's sinking and how he had survived. It was an amazing story. I asked him if he had written down the account for his family. He shook his head and said he didn't talk about it. He did allow that he had put his story on the record at the Nimitz museum and he was looking forward to a reunion there in the near future. We were both called for our eye exams and I remember feeling very amazed, moved and honored that he had shared his story with me.

I thought of that gentleman as I entered the museum. The indoor exhibits take you from Commodore Perry's Japan Expedition to VJ Day and demobilization. I was reminded just how desperate things were following the attack on Pearl Harbor. One disaster after another is chronicled. Then the horrific fighting on island after island is presented through photographs, artwork and artifacts. I did not realize that 64% of all American casualties occured in the last 14 months of the war. American and Japanese personal effects and letters have been donated to the museum and tell a story of immense bravery and duty.

The next day we picked up our daughter from Texas Lions Camp. The Lions Camp was the first camp in the USA to offer sessions for kids with diabetes. I sat next to a mom whose son was only diagnosed two months ago. Her emotions were so near the surface. I tried to assure her that she was completely normal. It still grabs me unawares sometimes. I told her she had already done one of the best things in the world for her boy, she sent him to this wonderful camp.

For a week kids from all over Texas swim, ride horses, camp out, sing songs and have a wonderful time. At meal time EVERYONE checks their blood sugar, counts their carbs, takes their shots or pumps their insulin. A dedicated volunteer medstaff watches over them, helps them if they get low or high, helps them adjust their insulin and does a blood sugar check on every camper, every night at midnight. The best thing about the camp though is being with other kids who are living with diabetes. My daughter treasures her friends from camp. As she goes back to school this year she knows she is not alone.

3 comments:

Suzi said...

Camille, it's funny--I thought the worst thing about diabetes camp was the other kids and what seemed like their always-perfect blood sugars (the schmucks!). I'm glad your daughter enjoys it more! I have to say, if such a thing as a pump had then been available, I might have had a better time (and if I weren't a competitive perfectionist, that would have been even better...).

I have many relatives in TX; my aunt always purchased Texas Highways for us, so I've read a lot about Texas Hill country! Sounds like you had a good, fascinating time. Should you ever find yourself on Guam, there's another moving museum about the war in the Pacific. Shocking, heartrending information--Guam was, of course, invaded and occupied by the Japanese the day (or two days) after Pearl Harbor. Wow.

Kelly said...

Camille:

I am glad this was such a wonderful experience for you daughter and your family! She sounds like a wonderful person.

Kelly

Camille said...

This was her third year to go to camp. She went the first year to humor her parents and loved it, much to our surprise and delight. Believe me we are NOT camping type people.

Seems like we were just getting her numbers on an even keel when it was camp time. Now she has to adjust to being home again. It is always something with diabetes, isn't it?
Boy does she LOVE her pump. She has been pumping for 4 months now. It has changed our life.

I have traveled and lived in Europe and have seen the memorials and walked the beaches etc. there. The War in the Pacific was more abstract to me. Museums like this bring it closer. Like you said, "heartrending."