I’m fixing to pour naphazoline and pheniramine maleate in to my eyes. Just don’t ask me to pronounce these molecular formulas. It’s what was recommended by the pharmacist whose head I could only see as he peered back at me from behind his tall partitioned counter. I’m willing to do practically anything if it offers me even a small chance of relief from these symptoms.
Last night marked my fifth stay here in Austin. There was three nights at the luxurious Marriott in downtown with my friend Ron, and now two more nights with John and Josh, roommates who make a habit out of hosting cyclists who are touring.
After unraveling myself from the heaping bundle of blankets that they had left out for me on the oversized sofa the night before, I ventured through the neighborhood by bike.
Jimmy Kimmel featured Austin’s famous Franklin BBQ last night on his televised program. I was told to arrive early, that a line of drooling brisket connoisseurs would be lined up, assembling for several city blocks. It was approaching noon when I took a seat in a borrowed canvas chair. A BBQ “sell out” occurs everyday. Often times those in the rear of the line, waiting for three hours or more, take it in the rear, being left out.
It was Fred “Duckie” Bray and his wife who purchased the $50 gift card for me. They live in Central Oregon. Duckie sits on the Operation Elf Box board, a retired school teacher who loves the Oregon State Ducks. He’s a humble and kind man whose been volunteering with us for three years.
One pound of brisket, two sausage sandwich’s, three sides of potato salad and a side of pickles and onions lathered in a spicy molasses sauce, all of that being flopped onto my plastic tray. I took the monstrous sandwiches to go, finding two hungry people along my path, making their day. Their eyes were as big as Texas after delicately unwrapping the brown butcher paper from the sausage stuffed buns.
During my pass through the pharmacy, I put in my basket one of everything on the allergy aisle and doubled back through the cold and flu department, securing a few more remedies. I have a mild fever, irritated eyes and ears, and my throat feels like I swallowed a porcupine. I feel more fatigued than a mother with newborn triplets.
Along my route I happened to drift into the Texas State Cemetery, a historical landmark. It’s just a few blocks east of the State Capital and is the final resting place of Governors, Senators, Legislators and prominent Texans. Shoeless Jo and I sat together in silence, positioned on a stone bench, looking out at over 2000 marked graves of Confederate Veterans.
I spoke with Mark Quon yesterday morning. He lives in Bend, Oregon with his beautiful wife, Linda. As the proprieter of Quon Design & Communication, he has graciously crafted all of the Operation Elf Box graphics, print and marketing material, for five years, offering his talented creations to us, pro-bono.
Our logo once read, “Benifitting Children of Bend”. We changed the last word to “Oregon” three years ago when we opened additional ‘free toy stores’ in other cities throughout the state. As the mission continues to expand, with the dream of creating a brighter Christmas for children, everywhere, it now reads “America”.
John and Josh were at the house preparing an amazing meal when Jo and I returned in the evening. Unfortunately my appetite had been diminished by my symptoms and my personality was as bland as Hollywood’s, Vin Diesel. I laid myself out on the super sofa and haven’t left it.