Castle Roland

Dreams Don't Grow On Trees

by Owen Hudson

In Progres

Chapter 36

Posted: 17 Sept 15

Dreams Don't Grow on Trees

Copyright © 2011 - 2015 Owen Hudson

"Is that all he said?" Darrell asked, when Amy informed him that Steve needed to talk to him about Brenda's lawsuit.

"He said he'd talk to you about it this evening," Amy said. "I invited him and his family to dinner."

"I invited George also," Darrell said. "I hope there's enough."

"There's plenty," Amy assured her dad.

"Kyle and Jarred went on home to take care of their horses," Haden said. "I'll call Kyle and tell him to come on back over when he's finished."

"Uncle George is here," Adam said when he came inside after feeding his pets.

"And he brought my new laptop," Justin added.

"Do you need help transferring anything from your old computer to this new one?" Haden asked.

"I don't have anything on the old one that I need, except maybe my word processing program."

"Oh, that came preloaded on this new one," George said.

"Thank you again, Uncle George," Justin said.

"You're more than welcome," George said.

"Hello," Justin said, after answering his cell phone. "Alright, I'll be right there --- Mom said for me to come home now."

"Can you manage your horse and computer both?" Haden asked.

"Adam and I already took my horse home," Justin said.

"Darrell, Rita, I got a call from Jerry Baker, and he offered to settle for $10,000," Steve said when he and family arrived.

"Really, what brought this on?" Rita asked.

"I sent Brenda a letter stating that we would be filing a lawsuit for their frivolous suit, if it wasn't dropped," Steve explained. "They agreed to drop the suit when I told Jerry neither of you would agree to pay anything."

"So it's over?" Rita asked.

"It will be as soon as the lawsuit is officially dropped," Steve explained.

"See, Honey, I told you not to worry," Darrell said as he gave Rita a hug.

It was an unusually warm Saturday for late January. Haden and Kyle finally had an opportunity to spend quality time together since football season was over. "How is basketball going for Adam and his buddies?" Kyle asked on the drive back from the mall in Covington.

"They're improving, but still have some learning to do," Haden explained. "Jon's a little ahead of Adam and Justin, but they're catching up."

"When's their next game?"

"Tuesday, and it's a home game."

"I'll go and bring Jarred."

"They'd like that."

"What are those boys doing at the pond?" Kyle asked, when he dropped Haden off at his house.

"It looks like they're fishing," Haden said. "Let's go see if they're catching anything."

"Are they biting?" Kyle asked, as they approached the boys.

"Yeah, they sure are," Adam said.

"Where are they?" Kyle asked.

"They're too small to keep," Jon said, as Jarred reeled in a catfish while giggling.

"Yeah, we want them to grow," Adam said as he removed the less than six inch fish from Jarred's hook and tossed it back into the water.

"Jarred, does Mom know you're here fishing?" Kyle asked.

"No, but Dad does," Jarred said. "I didn't ask Mom, because she would've said no."

"I used to do the same thing," Kyle said with a laugh.

"Next time, I'll ask Dad to take us to our stocked pond," Jon said.

"If he can't, Kyle and I can," Haden volunteered.

"Even if Dad goes, you could too," Jon said.

"We could ride our horses there," Adam said, not missing an opportunity to ride.

"Speaking of horses, Adam, we need to feed ours," Haden said.

"Jarred, we need to go feed ours too," Kyle said.

"I'd better go help Dad with our chores," Jon said.

"Amy, are you going to my game tonight?" Adam asked during dinner.

"I plan on it," Amy said. "That's why we're eating early.

"I get to start this game," Adam proudly announced.

"That's good, Son," Darrell said.

"Not really," Adam admitted. "Jon and I get to start because Corey and Jason aren't eligible this week."

"What happened?" Haden asked.

"They didn't tell us, but we heard it's because they didn't keep up their grades," Adam said.

"See, that's another reason you need to study," Rita said.

"I know, Mom," Adam said. "But I do have good grades."

"And we're proud of you for that," Rita said.

The game was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than four points. The game was tied with a few seconds left when Jon drove for a layup and was fouled, only to be missed by the referees. Adam rebounded and tossed the ball in for the winning score. Needless to say, Adam was proud of his accomplishment, but admitted that the winning goal should have gone to Jon.

Spring break had finally arrived, and the men and boys planned another campout. Adam had convinced Haden to ride out and prepare the camp site. Jon had also convinced his dad to go. The group had also grown to include Justin, Kyle, and Jarred. George would meet the group there.

"Uncle George is already here," Adam said when the group arrived. "Hi, Uncle George, I guess you didn't have trouble finding this place."

"No, you gave good directions," George said. "Ray, this place is gorgeous."

"I love it here too," Ray said. "I wish my parents had built here rather than where my house is. Guys, let's collect firewood now, so we won't have to do it later."

"Dad, what are we going to do when we use up all the dead wood here?" Jon asked.

"We'll gather from another area and haul it here," Ray said.

"What will I need for the campout?" George asked.

"We'll meet tomorrow evening at Darrell's picnic place and discuss it," Ray said. "The weather is warm enough, we can have a cookout."

"We need to prepare the garden for spring planting," Haden said, when he and Adam arrived home.

"When?" Adam asked.

"We'll start after lunch."

"Good, I'm hungry."

"Tomorrow, we'll go purchase seeds and plants."

"We have company," Adam said, after the boys had put the tiller back in the barn and were returning to the house.

"I wonder who it is," Haden said.

"I don't know, but the dogs aren't letting them get out of their car."

"Does Darrell Harrington still live here?" The man asked, after Adam calmed the dogs.

"Yes, he does," Haden said.

"This place sure looks different," the man said. "Are you Perry?"

"No, I'm Haden, and this is my brother Adam," Haden answered. "Who might you be?"

"Oh, I'm sorry," he apologized. "I'm Richard Harrington, your uncle, and this is my wife Ann."

"Okay, Dad has mentioned you," Haden said. "I think there was a dispute over the division of property after Grandma and Grandpa died."

"There was, and James, Dale, and I were wrong," Richard said. "Is Darrell home?"

"No, he and Mom are at work, but he should be home soon," Haden explained.

"So, does he still work at the lumber company?"

"He owns it," Adam proudly stated.

"I can see he's doing very well," Richard said.

"He has earned it," Haden said.

"He was always a hard worker," Richard admitted. "And how is Brenda?"

"She's remarried and living in Texas," Haden said.

"Oh, I'm not surprised they're divorced," Richard said.

"Would you like to go inside and wait for Dad to come home?" Haden asked.

"If I'm welcome," Richard said.

"Why wouldn't you be?"

"When the will was read and we learned your dad got the house, we weren't very happy. We said some things to Darrell we shouldn't have said."

"What made you change your mind?"

"Our son Jake made me really think about it," Richard said, as Ann nodded in agreement. "When I really thought about it, I realized in reality the property was equally divided in net worth. James, Dale, and I sold our land to Mr. Reed. Does he still own it?"

"No, Ray owns it"

"I guess he inherited from his dad."

"Amy, this is our Uncle Richard and his wife Ann," Haden said, as he introduced them.

"Pleased to meet you, would you care for something to drink?" Amy asked. "I just made some ice tea, and I could make some coffee."

"Tea would be fine for me," Ann said.

"The same for me," Richard agreed. "This doesn't look like the same house."

"I guess it really isn't," Amy said. "Adam, will you come and help me?"

"When Dad and Rita got married, she sold her house, and they remodeled this one," Haden explained. "Dad and I had already converted part of the back porch into a bedroom. When Dad adopted Adam, we shared that room until the house was enlarged."

"Where's Perry now?" Richard asked.

"He's married and lives at Rock Creek."

"And they have a son, Dustin," Adam said as he entered the den with a tray of ice tea. "Amy said we're having pot roast for dinner, and you're invited to have dinner with us."

"We wouldn't want to impose," Ann said.

"There's always plenty," Haden said. "I'm sure you and Dad will want to catch up."

"I hope he's willing to accept my apology."

"I'm sure he will."

"Richard!" Darrell said when he saw his brother in the den. "What a surprise."

"Darrell, I hope you'll forgive me," Richard said, as he extended his hand.

"I have no hard feelings," Darrell said, as he hugged his brother - rather than a handshake.

"Do you remember my wife, Ann?" Richard asked.

"Of course, I do," Darrell said, as he gave his sister-in-law a hug. "You still look the same."

"Thank you, Darrell," Ann said. "I hope you don't mind us showing up like this, but Jake convinced Richard it was time to put his feelings behind and see if you could find it in your heart to forgive us."

"I have no hard feelings toward my brothers," Darrell said. "How are they?"

"I'm sorry to say, but James died last year," Richard said. "He became an alcoholic, and walked out into the path of a truck one night."

"I'm sorry to hear that, and what about Dale?"

"He's doing okay for himself," Richard said. "He's a professor of agriculture at Eastern Kentucky University."

"And what about you?"

"I'm a letter carrier for the postal department, and Ann teaches fifth grade. It looks like you're doing okay."

"Yeah, I've had some lucky breaks. The bank repossessed the lumber company, and made me a deal I couldn't turn down. I mortgaged this place and bought it. I was lucky enough to get a big contract and pay it off. Oh hi, Honey. Rita, I'd like for you to meet my brother Richard and his wife Ann."

"Oh my, I could tell he's a close relative," Rita said. "I'm pleased to meet you."

"Mom's in charge of Child Welfare," Adam proudly announced.

"I'm sure that can be depressing," Ann said.

"It can be, but it's also rewarding," Rita pointed out.

"I love your house," Ann said. "It doesn't look like the same place."

"Would you like to see the rest of it?" Rita asked.

"Sure," Ann quickly agreed.

"Well, this den was part of Amy's bedroom and the boys' room," Rita pointed out.

"The boys' room was part of the old back porch," Darrell explained.

"Our bedroom was Darrell's bedroom and part of Amy's," Rita said, as they continued the tour. "The kitchen and living room are the same. The kid's rooms are upstairs over the garage we added. Adam, is your room clean?"

"Mom, Heidi was here today; besides, I keep my room clean," Adam protested.

"For the most part, you do," Rita admitted. "Heidi's our housekeeper. With both of us working and the kids in school, it's a blessing to have someone clean for us."

"Dinner's ready," Amy said when the tour ended in the kitchen.

"It smells wonderful," Ann said.

"We sort of take turns cooking," Rita explained. "Haden and Amy are wonderful cooks, and Adam's learning."

"That was delicious," Ann said, after enjoying the meal.

"It sure was," Richard agreed.

"Thank you," Amy said. "There's apple pie."

"I'm stuffed," Richard said. "But I'm not turning down apple pie."

"Uncle Richard, where do you live?" Amy Asked.

"We live in Oakdale," Richard said.

"That isn't all that far," Haden said.

"It's about a two hour drive," Richard explained. "Jake lives there too. He's a pharmacist at Walgreens, married, and has two kids. Shane is 10 and Molly is eight."

"Is Jake your only child?" Rita asked.

"He is," Ann said.

"Ann, we should be heading home," Richard said, after visiting a while longer.

"You're welcome to spend the night," Rita offered.

"Thank you, Rita, but Richard works tomorrow, and I'm babysitting the grandkids," Ann said.

"Adam, would you get a pen and pad, so we can exchange phone numbers?" Rita asked.

"Sure, make the youngest kid be the gofer," Adam said with a giggle.

"He's so cute," Ann said with a smile,

"He's really a good kid," Rita said. "We're fortunate with all of our kids."

"I'd like for us to get together again soon," Richard said as they were saying their goodbyes.

"I'd like that," Darrell agreed. "I'd love to see Dale again."

"How about Easter weekend?" Haden suggested.

"That's a good idea," Rita agreed. "The weather should be warm enough that we could have it at our picnic area. We could reserve the Reed Center just in case the weather is bad."

"What's the Reed Center?" Richard asked.

"When the Reed School closed, it went back to the Reed family," Darrell explained. "Ray donated it for a community center, and the locals renovated it."

"Let's plan on that," Richard agreed.

"You're welcome to stay with us," Darrell offered.

"We'll pull our travel trailer down," Richard said. "It's large enough for us and Jake's family."

"You can park it here, and we'll connect it to the utilities near the picnic area," Darrell said.

"We'd like for you to meet our friends and the rest of the family," Rita said. "We've become close with Brenda's family; after all, they're the kids' family."

"That'd be nice," Ann agreed.

"I'll contact Dale about this," Richard said. "I'm not sure if he'll come or not. You see, he's gay and has a partner."

"Uncle Richard, I'm gay," Haden said.

"I'll tell him," Richard said. "He may feel different. When he first told me, I wasn't willing to accept it, but Jake gave me a good talking to."

The campout was much like the previous ones; but the boys were still excited. George was like one of the kids and enjoyed every minute of the outing. After setting up the camp, the boys decided it would be a good idea to go fishing.

"If we catch enough fish, we'll have a fish fry for dinner," Darrell announced as they walked the short distance to the pond.

"There should be plenty of fish," Ray said. "This pond hasn't been fished in years."

After catching more than enough fish for dinner, Darrell said, "Reel them in, guys, we need to get back to camp and get these cleaned and ready to fry."

"Aw, Dad, can't we fish a little longer?" Adam begged.

"Adam, we already have more than enough fish," Darrell said.

"We'll toss them back," Adam promised.

"No, I don't want you kids here without adult supervision," Darrell stated.

"If you don't need me to help, I'll stay with them," George offered.

"Alright, thanks George," Darrell said.

"Wade, I think you're too young to stay," Carl said. "George will have his hands full watching all of you."

"But Dad, Jarred is my age, and he's staying," Wade argued.

"We'll help Uncle George watch them," Justin offered.

"Alright, but stay where George can see you," Carl ordered.

"I will," Wade promised.

"Adam, you boys mind your Uncle George," Darrell said. "Come back to camp in about an hour and half for dinner."

"We will, Dad," Adam promised.

"I'm glad George agreed to stay with them," Haden said. "I sure didn't want to."

"I agree," Kyle said.

"I think George was enjoying this as much as the boys," Ray said.

"I understand your brother Richard came to see you," Steve said, as he helped clean the fish.

"He did and we had a nice visit," Darrell said. "We're getting together Easter weekend."

"What about James and Dale?" Ray asked.

"James was hit by a truck and killed, but Dale's an agriculture professor at Eastern Kentucky University."

"I'd love to see them," Ray said.

"You're all invited to the cookout," Darrell said. "We reserved the Reed Center just in case the weather's bad."

"Your parents were good people," Walter said.

"Walter, you and the rest of the family are invited too," Darrell said. "After all, you're family too."

"You know me, I'll not turn down an invite," Walter said with a laugh.

"I guess we need to get these cooked before those hungry boys come back," Steve said.

"I'm a pretty good fish fryer," Walter said. "I'll do it."

"What are we having with the fish?" Kyle asked.

"Lois made up a bunch of hushpuppies; all we need to do is cook them," Ray said.

"Amy made some coleslaw for us," Darrell added. "Oh, and there's baked beans too."

"That sounds like a feast to me," Jeff said.

"It looks like everything is about ready," Steve said. "Kyle would you and Haden set up the tables and chairs?"

"And then go get George and the boys," Darrell added.

"Dad, they have cell phones," Haden pointed out.

"Oh, I guess they do," Darrell admitted. "Never mind ... I see them coming."

"There's a lot of fish in that pond," George said, as he put away his fishing gear. "Thanks, Ray, for letting us fish there. I really enjoyed it."

"It's close to your house, and you're welcome to come and fish anytime you like," Ray said. "All I ask is you eat what you catch, or throw them back."

"Thanks, I appreciate that," George said.

"Dad, are we going to take Uncle George up Sutton Mountain tomorrow?" Adam asked.

"We can," Darrell said.

"What mountain?" George asked.

"That big hill over there," Adam said, as he pointed toward Sutton Mountain. "It's really just a big hill, but they call it a mountain."

"It should be fun," George said.

"Why didn't Paul and his boys come?" Scott asked.

"They flew up to Nebraska to visit relatives," Darrell explained.

"Grandpa, will you tell us one of your stories?" Ethan asked.

"Yeah, Grandpa, tell us the one about Davy Crockett and the Coonskin," Wade said.

"Alright," Walter agreed.

"Well, they say that Davy Crockett, the most famous bear hunter in the U.S. of A, once ran for election in Congress. He was campaigning in town one day, standing on a big ol' stump an talking to a big ol' crowd, when one of the men complained, saying he was mighty thirsty. Course, that set the whole crowd off, don't ya know. They said they wanted free drinks, and they wanted Davy to pay fer 'em out of his own pocket. If he didn't pay, he wouldn't get elected.

"Davy knew he'd better do something afore his campaign ended right then and there. So he took the whole crowd to the local bar - what they called a shantee back in them days - and Davy himself led the singing and ordered drinks for the whole crew. 'Course, the barman wanted to see his money, and Davy didn't have none. But he told the fellow to wait, and he lit off into the woods with his rifle, watched by the amused and derisive crowd. Didn't take him but a minute to spy himself a coon, and Davy shot it first go.

"The crowd wasn't near so skeptical when he reappeared with his prize, all skinned and ready to give to the barman. Back in them days, a coonskin was as good as money, and the barman accepted it immediately, and soon the whole crowd was afloat, drinking rum like there was no tomorrow.

"When the coonskin was all paid out, Davy went back outside to his stump to start another speech about the election, and what he meant to do for all the voters if he was elected. But news had got around, and it turned out this crowd was jest as thirsty as the first one. Davy took them all to the shantee, wondering if he'd have to go out and shoot another coon. Then he spied a bit of the coonskin sticking out between the logs that were used to build the bar. The barman must have stuck the skin under the counter to keep it safe. Davy leaned up against the counter and stuck his right hand down until he was gripping the piece of coonskin and gave it a good hard jerk. The coonskin slid right through the logs and into his hand. Triumphantly, Davy slapped it onto the counter and ordered a round of drinks from the barman to the shouted delight of the crowd.

"As they were drinking, Davy made the rounds of the crowd, campaigning with all his might. He kept an eye on the bartender, and sure nuff, the man put the coonskin behind the counter in the same place as before, with part of it sticking through a gap in the logs. So Davy meandered over the bar when the drinks started running low, and paid for another round with the same coonskin. He treated his new friends again, and again, and again by the same trick.

"Davy Crockett purchased ten rounds with the same coonskin before the day was over, and that joke secured the election for him. Even the bartender had to allow that anyone that clever had the 'real grit for them in Congress,' and the man running against him might as well 'whistle jigs to a milestone,' cause the milestone was the only one that would vote fer the opponent.

"Davy Crockett won his election to Congress, and he became known as the 'coonskin congressman.' He first introduced himself to his new colleagues in Congress by saying: 'I am that same Davy Crockett, fresh from the back woods, half-horse, half-alligator, a little touched with the snapping turtle ... I can whip my weight in wildcats ... and eat any man opposed to Jackson.'

"Davy Crockett served three terms in Congress, and only lost his bid for a fourth term when he took up a position that was opposed to Jackson."

"Grandpa, will you tell another one?" Jarred asked.

"Sure, what do you want to hear?" Walter asked.

"I don't know one," Jarred admitted.

"How about the one you told Ethan and me about Babe the Blue Ox?" Adam suggested.

"That's a good one," Walter agreed.

"Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward, and all the fish moved south, and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before.

"Paul Bunyan went out walking in the woods one day during that Winter of the Blue Snow. He was knee-deep in blue snow when he heard a funny sound between a bleat and a snort. Looking down, he saw a teeny-tiny baby blue ox jest a hopping about in the snow and snorting with rage on account of he was too short to see over the drifts.

"Paul Bunyan laughed when he saw the spunky little critter and took the little blue mite home with him. He warmed the little ox up by the fire and the little fellow fluffed up and dried out, but he remained as blue as the snow that had stained him in the first place. So Paul named him Babe the Blue Ox.

"Well, any creature raised in Paul Bunyan's camp tended to grow to massive proportions, and Babe was no exception. Folks that stared at him for five minutes could see him growing right before their eyes. He grew so big that 42 axe handles plus a plug of tobacco could fit between his eyes, and it took a murder of crows a whole day to fly from one horn to the other. The laundryman used his horns to hang up all the camp laundry, which would dry lickety-split because of all the wind blowing around at that height.

"Whenever he got an itch, Babe the Blue Ox had to find a cliff to rub against, 'cause whenever he tried to rub against a tree it fell over and begged for mercy. To whet his appetite, Babe would chew up thirty bales of hay, wire and all. It took six men with picaroons to get all the wire out of Babe's teeth after his morning snack. Right after that he'd eat a ton of grain for lunch and then come pestering around the cook - Sourdough Sam - begging for another snack.

"Babe the Blue Ox was a great help around Paul Bunyan's logging camp. He could pull anything that had two ends, so Paul often used him to straighten out the pesky, twisted logging roads. By the time Babe had pulled the twists and kinks out of all the roads leading to the lumber camp, there was twenty miles of extra road left flopping about with nowhere to go. So Paul rolled them up and used them to lay a new road into new timberland.

"Paul also used Babe the Blue Ox to pull the heavy tank wagon which was used to coat the newly-straightened lumber roads with ice in the winter, until one day the tank sprang a leak that trickled south and became the Mississippi River. After that, Babe stuck to hauling logs. Only he hated working in the summertime, so Paul had to paint the logging roads white after the spring thaw so that Babe would keep working through the summer.

"One summer, as Babe the Blue Ox was hauling a load of logs down the white-washed road and dreaming of the days when the winter would feel cold again and the logs would slide easier on the "ice," he glanced over the top of the mountain and caught a glimpse of a pretty yeller calf grazing in a field. Well, he twisted out of his harness lickety-split and stepped over the mountain to introduce himself. It was love at first sight, and Paul had to abandon his load and buy Bessie the Yeller Cow from the farmer before Babe would do any more hauling.

"Bessie the Yeller Cow grew to the massive, yet dainty proportions that were suitable for the mate of Babe the Blue Ox. She had long yellow eyelashes that tickled the lumberjacks standing on the other end of camp each time she blinked. She produced all the dairy products for the lumber camp. Each day, Sourdough Sam made enough butter from her cream to grease the giant pancake griddle and sometimes there was enough left over to butter the toast!

"The only bone of contention between Bessie and Babe was the weather. Babe loved the ice and snow, and Bessie loved warm summer days. One winter, Bessie grew so thin and pale that Paul Bunyan asked his clerk Johnny Inkslinger to make her a pair of green goggles, so she would think it was summer. After that, Bessie grew happy and fat again, and produced so much butter that Paul Bunyan used the leftovers to grease the whitewashed lumber roads in summer. With the roads so slick all year round, hauling logs became much easier for Babe the Blue Ox, and so Babe eventually came to like summer almost as much as Bessie."

"I like that one better," Wade said.

"Yeah, me too," Jarred agreed.

"Tell another one," Wade begged.

"It's getting late," Carl said. "I think you boys need to go to bed."

"Aw, Dad," Wade protested.

"No arguing," Carl said.

"And no carrying on," Steve added.

"Come on, guys, you're sleeping in the tent with Jon, Justin, Ethan, and me," Adam said.

Haden woke the next morning next to Kyle's warm body. "I smell bacon," Kyle said as he snuggled with Haden.

"We should get up," Haden said.

"I'm up, can't you tell?" Kyle teased.

"Oh shut up," Haden laughed. "We need to help with breakfast, right after a morning piss."

"We'll be right back to help," Kyle said as he and Haden headed for the bushes.

"Good timing," Steve said. "Everything is almost ready."

"You can wake up your brother and the other boys," Darrell said, when the two returned.

"Then you can wash up and help serve the juice."

"I hear them ... they're awake," Walter said.

Soon the group of youngsters was headed for the bushes, and returned ready for breakfast. "What's for breakfast?" Ethan asked as the boys sat at the table ready to eat.

"Nothing until you guys wash up," Scott, who was frying sausage, said.

It was a big breakfast of sausage, bacon, and pancakes, with plenty of juice and milk. Most of the adults opted for cups of hot coffee. The mountain of food was completely consumed, and the boys were ready to ride.

"Hey, Jeff, did you bring apples and peanut butter?" Adam asked when the group was about halfway up the mountain.

"I thought you were bringing them this time," Jeff said.

"Nobody told me," Adam said.

"Yes, I brought them," Jeff said with a laugh.

After enjoying the snack, the riders remounted and continued to the top of the mountain. "This is amazing up here," George said.

"Uncle George, that's our house over there," Adam pointed out.

"Ours is next to it," Justin added.

"And you can see ours too," Jarred said.

"Ours is too far to see," Wade said.

"And you can see our barn," Jon said.

"Hey, Uncle George, you can see your house over in that direction," Adam said pointing in the direction of his uncle's house.

"And there's the Reed Center," Jon said.

"Ray, you're lucky to own all of this beautiful land," George remarked.

"I'm lucky that my parents and grandparents had the foresight to see the value in it," Ray said.

"Dad, what's for lunch, I'm hungry?" Adam asked.

"Imagine that," Haden teased.

"Shut up, Haden, I bet the others are too," Adam countered.

The other boys quickly came to Adam's defense and agreed.

"We have chicken or tuna sandwiches," Darrell said. "There're also individual packets of baby carrots."

"And I have juice boxes in my saddle bags," Adam added.

After lunch, the gang rode back down to camp and prepared to head home. "Guys, I don't know when I've enjoyed myself so much," George said. "Thanks for letting me join you."

"We're happy to have you, you're family," Ray said.

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