My family had owned the land in Texas for years. My father was an avid hunter and, on a whim, traveled overseas to buy his own place to retire with endless acres to fine tune his hobby. I never once stepped foot on the property until the day I met with the appraiser. I didn’t have much interest in hunting when I was young, and had regarded my father’s trips to Texas as wanton escapes from our family’s otherwise hum-drum lifestyle. But when I arrived at the gate, I was taken aback by the simple beauty of the landscape. Although it was the heat of the day and I had donned the most inappropriate footwear for the terrain, I felt connected and almost comforted by the vastness of it all. I knew immediately that I didn’t want to sell it, but continued with the appraiser. We drove the entire property and each time I would think we had seen it all we would stumble upon something new – a creek that ran through the southeast corner or a grassy meadow just over a mesquite covered ridge. I understood why my father loved it so.

It was dusk by the time we came across the burned building. The roof was non-existent. Mounds of rubble were piled along the perimeter sprouting cacti. Jagged shards of glass reflected the sun that was setting behind us. The only thing seemingly unscathed was an enormous vault that stood above the crumbling walls, its door slightly ajar. It took both of us to pull it open, revealing a small metal trunk. The contents were singed but salvageable. And right on top was a hard case with the Stryker Brothers logo, hand drawn in black ink. We pilfered through the trunk finding random memorabilia dating back to the early 90’s. Also included was a handwritten letter from Charlie Duke on official Apollo 16 letterhead referencing the Stryker Brothers. We knew we found something fantastic.

It was dark before we knew it. We used the headlights from the truck to make our way out of the remains of the old building, trunk in tow. We talked about the trunk all the way back into town, both of us hypothesizing about the contents and what secrets they held. We agreed to meet up the next day to spend some time sorting through the photos, documents, and whatever else we might find. As I got out of the truck, I confessed to my new friend that I wouldn’t be selling the property but he already knew that.

evolve media