Saturday, January 1, 2011
Leakey (pronounced Lay-Key) is located 90 miles north west of San Antonio, and is near the Frio River, a tributary of the Rio Grande.
The Frio River basin can be bone dry or a raging torrent,depending on the weather upstream. My dad always planned our vacations just right so we could either swim in the "lagoon" just off the campground; or take a leisurely ride down the river in a rented truck inner tube.
The lagoon was neat because the natural stirring of the river had eroded a deep pool with a large flat bolder in the center just below the water line. As long as the water wasn't moving too swiftly you could swim out to the boulder and carefully (because it was a bit slimy with algae) stand on the boulder like the King of the River, which of course we thought we were required to yell at the top of our lungs each time we accomplished what we thought was an insurmountable feat.
There was also a massive tree that was rooted at the edge of the lagoon and with no less than 3/4 of it's weight balancing precariously over the water, a brave soul had attached a tempting rope swing from one of it's large branches. You could swing out over the Frio and after dropping in make the short swim to the boulder; or back to the shore to climb the exposed roots of the tree and back for another swing on the rope.
One year the weather was extremity nasty, so we spent most of the week either trapped in our family's pop-up camper, or in the cabin rented by my grandmother and her sister, where they burned-away the hours playing cards and talking "women things". Yuck.
I think it was on the fourth day that we finally got a break in the weather and come hell or high water I was going to get into that river! It turned-out that my prediction was right... there was some MIGHTY HIGH water in the Frio, and not only that, it was flowing fast and cold! Didn't matter. I grabbed hold of that rope swing after an internal "three, two, one" count-down I was off and into the water.
It didn't take me long to pop back up because the water was FREEZING! I looked back at the bank to collect the jealous grin of my chicken sister Lisa; but for some reason Lisa was gone. It was then that I noticed how swift the current was, because Lisa was a good 100 feet up the river bank and moving away fast!
The river was taking me for a ride, which wasn't all bad, but I suddenly remembered the rapids that were quickly approaching and I just about panicked. This was the exact spot where one of the local kids had gleefully regaled us with the story of the young teen who had died the previous season after getting pinned underwater against one of the large rocks anchored just under the surface. The authorities figured he had first struck a rock with his head, and his limp body was then carried to the bottom and brought to rest against a rock.
Well gosh darn it, that isn't about to happen to me! I maneuvered myself so that I was floating on my back with my feet straight ahead of me, and no sooner had I assumed that position that my feet smacked soundly into the first of the large rocks! I continued on like this for a good 30 seconds or so, bouncing from rock to rock like a pinball, until finally I entered a narrow, deep section of the river where I could swim to the river's edge and grab hold of some roots.
Lisa finally caught-up with me, and a few moments later was joined by some of the older kids who heard her screams for help.
I was a little bumped and bruised, but all in all I thought it was a fun ride and couldn't wait to do it again. That was when Dad arrived and "reminded" me that we weren't supposed to get into the water unless he was with us. In fact, if I remember correctly he reminded me so well that I had trouble sitting at the table for dinner that night.