For the first time in almost two years, I motored over to Austin today to spend some time with my sister ... tomorrow we're going to a hen party, otherwise known as the Funky Chicken Coop Tour. We expect to be entertained and enlightened on the subject of chickens, which will be a nice antidote to the somber sights I encountered today between Smithville and Bastrop. The devastation that resulted from last September's wildfires moved me to tears and it will be a long time before I shake the images of the charred and blackened sticks that were once Loblolly Pines. Over 34,000 acres were affected by the fires and 1600 homes were lost, some of them belonging to the firefighters battling to save other homes from destruction. The area continues to recover and rebuild but the landscape will never be the same.