Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

2014 bucket list

Wick's World


Having failed to honor every New Year’s resolution for the last several decades, I decided to take a novel approach for the coming year. Instead of losing weight for five days and gaining it back over the next 360 and continuing the long tradition of breaking resolutions, I decided to create a bucket list for 2014.

The first dream tossed in the bucket is a return trip to Austin, Texas, with our family. Austin, the music capitol of Texas, is the place my wife and I set down our first roots. Although we stayed in various cities and towns throughout the Lone Star State for the next several years, Austin always held a special spot in our hearts. Over the years many of our friends from the University of South Dakota followed us to Austin and mostly because of the musical charm of the city, the majority of them stayed.

The former Red Willow Band’s Chris Gage spent years travelling and performing with Roy Clark’s band including appearances on the television show HeeHaw. He eventually settled in Austin where he was voted as the 2011 Texas Musician of the Year. He currently is the bandleader for (Mr. Bojangles) The Jerry Jeff Walker Band. He also performs in Europe and Texas with his singing partner, Christine Alpert, as Alpert and Gage. Both Chris Gage and former South Dakotan Tom (Lars) Johnson are operating their own recording studios in Austin.

Kent (Cowboy) Johnson always had the smoothest country voice coming out of South Dakota. He performs a solo act throughout Texas and Mississippi. Since becoming an Austin resident, he has shared the stage with Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson.

Every few years we take a weekend flight to Austin and have a Saturday night party at a friend’s house where anywhere from 20 to 30 old friends show up. At Tom Johnson’s wedding, we estimated there were close to a hundred ex-Dakotans at the backyard reception.

These are the people we would like to introduce to our children, thus the reason for an Austin trip. We also made friends with several native Texans during our first stay in Austin. Among the first was a couple named Shirley and Donna. They were not only our first Texas friends, they were also our first African-American friends. In addition, they were a couple in the true sense of the word. They were our first lesbian friends. Talk about breaking the barrier of cultural diversity, this couple was the real deal.

Still, the biggest culture shock for us northerners was adapting to plain old Texans. Many locals feel that Texas is a country to itself and for the most part, they are correct. Only “The People’s Republic of Austin,” with its music scene and hippie cowboys left over from the sixties, remains unique from the rest of Texas.

Ever since our children grew up and left home, we always wanted to take them to meet our Texas friends and basically show them around our old hangouts in Austin, many of which still exist. Unfortunately, the old warehouse that was converted into the Armadillo World headquarters is not one of them. Barton Springs remains, as does Town Lake and Lake Travis. Unfortunately, the recent drought has emptied Lake Travis to record low levels, unlike Town Lake. It is a controlled reservoir on the Colorado River. This is where we rented a house on the water to spend time with our children and friends over the holidays.

New Year's Day 2014, I will be marking off bucket list #1 by introducing my family to Austin, Texas. Although the list remains at one, I’m dreaming of a monthly bucket list with 12 completed check marks at its side. It can’t be any harder than keeping a New Year’s resolution.


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