The Visit with Eckhard

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James and Eckhard have been good friends and worked together for many years. Eckhard can remember to the day when he and James met in June 1966. Both were just out of school and had begun to work for Ernst&Ernst in New York City. They became room mates and then fast friends ever since. They even hiked the upper half of the Appalachian Trail together. I am looking forward to meeting him. He greets us at the door with a big smile as we walk into the living room of his home. The windows at the back of the house expose a fabulous view of West Austin and a golf course below. We settle in the kitchen where all good visits take place and enjoy local pastries. Eckhard is an amazing individual who is fluent in many languages keeping sharp by reading books and news daily in these languages. He explains his favorite hike down the ravine to a lake below and back up again. This trip takes him less than an hour. It would take us much longer. Eckhard is in great physical shape. He tells of the birds and animals that he often sees along the way. It sounds very tempting but looking out and down at where he walks we take a rain check. Eckhard has planned a visit for us to his brother Wolf’s home for cocktails and then the country club for dinner. Wolf lives next door to Michael Dell and has a 320 degree commanding view of Austin. When we arrive it is twilight and we go out to the infinite pool to enjoy our drinks and the view. Both brothers love music and Wolf wants us to enjoy his latest sound system. It is an incredible what that system could do. You feel you are front and center at the concert. Wolf wants to play our favorite music artists. This is difficult since James’ Inkspots have not been digitized yet and the Beach Boys would not do the system justice. I wouldn’t dare tell him to play some Led Zeppelin or Floyd but I could imagine how awesome it would sound! The evening is full of wonderful stimulating conversation. Both brothers are very well read, smart and accomplished. My head is spinning.The next morning we say our goodbyes after Eckhard has served us a healthy breakfast of salmon with onions and toast. James promises to come again. As we leave, Eckhard is getting ready for his morning hike. Next time I want to come too! We head North West out of Austin to a suburb called Cedar Park. We are going on a recommended ride that hugs the north side of the Colorado River. It takes us up and down the ravine where the river has cut through the rock over the last Millenium. It is beautiful white blocks of limestone. Eckhard, I recall, told me this stone is the building material of choice in Austin. However, because of its softness, great care must be taken when using it. Juniper trees have become plentiful and offer a fragrance that even James can enjoy despite his cold. It is a great riding road and for a Saturday relatively uncrowded. I have planned a mid morning break to coincide with a stop at the Balcony Canyon Lands National Wildlife Refuge home of the Gold Cheek Warbler and the Black Capped Vireo. Arriving at the gate we find the Refuge closed. Later I will learn that the Refuge is closed once the birds begin to nest. Oh well, we will just have to put this on the list for the return trip to Austin.