Vampires and Zombies

Vampires and zombies seem to be a big theme in a lot of movies now days. I grew up watching old black and white vampire movies with Bela Lugosi and a few zombie movies with witch doctors in the Caribbean but I never thought there would be the plethora of movies on such themes as there are today.

I asked some of my older children, who are in their late 20’s, why young audiences are so fascinated with these movies. They were not so much into the vampire motif as much as the idea that there could be a global disease epidemic creating zombie like people. Perhaps a post war or apocalyptic occurrence. Very gruesome, however, not much different than the cheesy 1950’s black and white movies dealing with a post nuclear war scenario.

I also noticed a lot of kids like to put the death and decaying makeup on for Halloween these days. I suppose I would have like to have done that when I was a kid. There used to be a few Dracula costumes roaming about on Halloween when I was a kid. As I recall, I was a little uncomfortable with the Dracula and blood sucking vampire thing. When I was about ten I saw a movie where a teenager was bit by his girlfriend and he turned into a vampire. I had trouble sleeping that night, and it made me suspicious of girls for a while. I also saw a movie where a Caribbean voodoo witch doctor would put pins in a doll, and then turned people into zombies. I hated that movie. Consequently for the last 45 years I have avoided such movies.

Having said that I did include a situation card in the board game Treasure Trove where one gets bit by a bat thereby losing their next turn.


Dracula’s Castle



Bran Castle in Translvania

   When I was a kid there used to be a Saturday afternoon feature of old black and white scary movies.  They were fun. I liked watching cheesy 1950’s movies such as giant ants(Them),  visitors from outer space( The Day the Earth Stood Still), and animal monsters(The Creature from the Black Lagoon).   The TV stations also showed the original scary movies from the 1930’s such as Frankenstein, the Werewolf, and Dracula.  I did not enjoy the 1930’s movies as much. 

As for Dracula, I not only thought it was fakey, but I never liked the idea of someone sucking the blood out of my neck.  When I was about nine years of age I went to watch a western.  The previews showed a movie of people kissing someone else and turning them into someone with a blank stare, eventually a vampire.  I am not sure I was into girls at that time but I was sure afraid to kiss any girl after seeing the preview of that movie.  I have not seen any of the many dozens of remakes of Dracula over the next 50 years. 

I choose to put a situation card about Bats in the European card section of Treasure Trove for several reasons.  First, I have a card about Cats, and another about Rats, and therefore it just seemed appropriate for there to be one about Bats.  Second, there is a veneer of truth in all aspects of Treasure Trove.  I found it interesting that there really is a castle in Transylvania called Dracula’s Castle.  If one is searching for treasure in Europe I suppose castles are as good as any place to snoop and dig.  However, castles can be dark, damp, smelly, and full of nasty critters such as bats.










I really liked Halloween as a child, but that was 50 years ago. It has obviously changed a lot since then.  I do not celebrate it much anymore.  Unfortunately by the1970’s slasher films became popular. I have never sat down and actually watched a slasher film where the bad guy cuts up people.  Consequently, Halloween is not as much fun to me anymore.  I thought it would be as good as any time to mention in my blog the situation card about Bats. If you like Halloween, have fun and have a safe one. I still like those little sweet tarts, and small size butterfingers, but my teeth don’t.


The 64 Dollar?

Have you ever heard people say, “the sixty-four dollar question?”  I heard that for years, never giving it much thought.  I don’t hear it much anymore.  More often hear people say, “the million dollar question.”

After exploring the internet I now realize there was a TV game show in the 1950’s called The $64,000 Question.  Pror to that in the late 1940’s there was a radio show called the $64 Question.  The Oxford dictionary actually defines the sixty-four thousand dollar question: something that is not known and on which a great deal depends.  It is of no real importance except that that there was one day in my life when I did have a sixty-four dollar question?  It may not have had a dollar value, but it most definitely had the 64, and a big question indeed.

There is a state park in Northwest Texas called Caprock Canyons State Park.  Near the park is an abandoned railroad that has sixty-four miles of hiking/trail bike riding available to the public.  I had the brilliant (actually dumb) idea to try and hike the 64 miles in one day.  I had done some very challenging hikes prior to this decision.  One was a 32 mile extremely difficult hike of hilly mountainous terrain.  It took me about 16 hours.  I figured with the flat terrain of a railroad track I could make better time.  The railroad ties and rails had been removed years before.

To check out the trail my oldest son and I completed a twelve mile hike on a portion of the abandoned railway to judge how rocky the path was.  No problem, good traction.  He had been training for a 10k race so he was in decent shape.  There was one major problem however.  The trail is actually a straight 64 miles, not a loop.  To solve this logistical problem I had my wife follow us(about a 3 hour drive from our home) to the end of the trailhead, where I left my vehicle.

She then drove us to the beginning of the trail to drop us off.  Needless to say, a lot of driving for her.  I noticed some clouds building in the distance and gave an uneasy wave as she drove off.  She had a sad look of resignation on her face conveying, “I wish you guys weren’t doing this.” I watched as the car distanced itself from our view.  No turning back now.  We took a deep breath and began our journey.  It was 6 PM.

I figured we could average walking at least 3 miles an hour, so it was possible we could do it in 24 hours.  Everything would have to go well.  Some of my other hikes I had started and finished in the dark, so I experienced that previously.  I also felt I had the stamina to keep moving for 24 hours.  We would rest about 10 minutes every hour and 30 minutes every 4 hours.  I admit it would be tight, but even if we didn’t make it in 24 hours, I thought we could finish the trek.       

The first two hours was no sweat.  Then I noticed the clouds were not dark, they were almost black.  Within minutes we had donned our raingear before the rain hit us.  Fortunately, it was not a downpour so to speak, but it was a Texas thunderstorm.  We keep going, but the path was now muddy.  The rain picked up, and darkness descended.  The trail now had several inches of water covering it so our pace slowed.  It was literally pitch black except for the flash and then burst of lightening.  After about four hours we came to a railroad tunnel but I told my son we did want to linger.  As a matter of fact I advised, “don’t breath too heavily and let’s get through here quickly, this tunnel has thousands of bats.”  You could not only smell the guano(bat poop) but feel it as you walked:  a soft, powdery feel.  I guess the Texas heat had dried it to a fine dust.

tunnel on trailhead of Caprock Canyon state park

Exiting the tunnel we trudged on. We now embarked on the portion of the trail we had hiked in preparation.   It is quite scenic, but not at night, much less in the rain.  The thunderstorm had passed but unfortunately it continued to drizzle.  Not heavy, but it never did stop.  The hours passed.  We had rested several times to change out of our wet socks but it would not last long before our feet were wet again.  After about 24 miles we came to a small town that the railroad used to go through.  About a hundred yards off the trail I noticed a 24 hour gas station.  It was about 2 a.m.  The lone cashier was not comfortable with two wet, dirty guys getting some hot chocolate.  Even though it was June in Texas, we were cold.  We rested about an hour.

I began to access our situation.  Our backpacks were wet including all our spare socks.  It does not take long to get blisters when your feet are wet.  I demanded my son let me look at his feet.  He implied he was fine.  Sure enough, he had blisters.  He wanted to keep going.  40 miles to go: no way.  I too was  no longer up to the challenge.  Every now and then a car would stop at the station and I would inquire if they were headed in the direction where I had left my vehicle.  No one was interested in giving us a ride.  I didn’t blame them.  Several hours passed outside the gas station, which I know made the attendant uneasy.

I remembered there was a Ranger station about four miles out of town.  I know my son was not feeling well.  I also know he would not let me know if he was really hurting.  I made the decision to trek to the Ranger station which my son was able to do.  We got there before anyone had arrived and slept until the Ranger arrived.  I was ashamed to tell him of our misguided adventure as I now realize there were just too many ifs.  Sometimes you have to take risks if you’re going to get out of you comfort zone.  This ended up being too many.  He was very gracious and offered a ride to my truck, which I was so glad to see.  My quest had failed.  Even worse, was having to ask help from the Ranger.  I’m still ashamed of that even though it was the right decision.

My son still tells me he had a good experience.  He loved being out in the middle of nowhere with the lightening blazing.  As for me, I’m thankful for the park Ranger.  I’m also thankful the Lord was watching over us that night.  There is only one ranger station on the 64 mile stretch, just when we needed it.  So there you have it, the answer to my $64?  I was not able to hike 64 miles in one day.  Did not even come close, but it was an adventure.  For a much less challenging and more fun adventure please visit