Rick Soderstrom and his wife enjoy their quiet life in Mason County. You may know them best as the couple on Highway 29 West with the large ceramic pig adorning their entryway just west of Double Knobs. But, Rick has another life.
He has composed a "bucket list." A bucket list is, in simplest terms, those things that one wants to do or accomplish before,,,, well, before they "kick the bucket." Not only did he compose a list, he has been successfully ticking off items on it, and is continuing to do so.
This past February, he ticked off one more item on the list with a trip to Australia. At 68, it's not his first trip "Down Under," and this was not the most challenging trip he has made there. At one time, he completed the "over the top" route of Australia, a motorcycle trip of approximately 8,000 miles through remote and largely uninhabited territory.
This time, though, Rick went on a Harley-Davidson Fly & Ride trip. The famous American motorcycle company works with travelers to arrange for a motorcyle for them to use when they arrive at their destination. Rick is extremely comfortable on a bike, and this trip would be one of leisure rather than endurance.
He flew into Sydney, visited with friends, and then went on to Tasmania. He loved the exotic island between Australia and Antarctica.
When he got back to the mainland, he remembered something he had read on the airplane during his trip over. It had been about a popular country singer in Australia by the name of Lee Kernaghan. What had really caught his eye was that Kernaghan had hit song down under all about a town in the state of Queensland. A town by the name of Texas!
Rick knew, even though it hadn't been part of his initial plan, he needed to go visit Texas, Queensland. He looked at his itinerary, made some minor adjustments, and off he went.
It turned out to be a good impulse.
He met a fascinating lady by the name of Sally Ridgeway who led treks. She gave him a tour, and recounted the history of the town. She described how it had been a silver mining town. When that played out, the residents turned to cattle, wine-grape growing, and anything else that would allow them to stay on the land. It seemed very familiar to another place he knew.
What was supposed to have been a one or two day visit stretched out to almost a week as Rick explored Texas and the surrounding area.
He met the owners of the Ford Family Store. Inside, everything is about Texas. Not their Texas,,,, our Texas. There are Texas souvenirs, bumper stickers, books, photos. And, since Rick was wearing a Texas t-shirt, they traded him an Australian version so they could have the real thing.
He saw the marker identifying their town as a sister to Texas, USA, and he saw the pecan trees that had been sent as a gift during the Texas sesquicentennial. He also learned that the trees had trouble producing any fruit since the local cockatoos had found the young nuts to be a delicacy they could not resist.
When Rick left, he had a whole new set of memories to savor. He had one more thing to tick off the bucket list. And, he had the pleasure of having made friends from another Texas that also likes to brag about all things Texan.
Rick is still working on that bucket list. In a conversation last week, he described some upcoming treks of his own. I'm quite sure we will be hearing from him again.