Better late than never! This is the blog post I had all ready to go the day my computer screen died, a couple of weeks ago. Since I’ve been too busy here in Lovelady to post anything, here is our remembrance of those sunny days in west Texas.
West Texas… big, dry, and – in winter – brown. Although parts of the landscape have some appeal, it seems to go on forever when you are driving, driving, driving from New Mexico to the more populated parts of Texas – the Hill Country, Austin, San Antonio. In other words, it would be fine with me if it was smaller, or greener. By the time we hit west Texas heading east, I had seen ample arid scenery. And cactus. And cows.
The Ft. Davis-Marfa-Alpine triangle is a welcome oasis in this otherwise tedious landscape. Our usual “first leg” of the Texas crossing is from Las Cruces, NM, through El Paso, to either Balmorhea State Park – with its amazing natural (warm) pool – or Davis Mountain State Park, just outside Ft. Davis, Texas. We’ve explored tiny Ft. Davis and Marfa in the past; this year, I wanted to stop long enough to take in the sights of the largest of the three towns, Alpine. We made Davis Mountain State Park our home.
It was a relaxing 3-day stay, with the campground not even half full. Javelina families wandered through our campsite at will, and tame deer strolled the campground. We explored the hiking trails in the state park, and spent a day sightseeing in Alpine (30 miles east), including a visit to The Museum of the Big Bend on the grounds of Sul Ross State University – exploring the fascinating history of this wide-open region.
Given the small combined population of the three towns, the cultural landscape is a surprise. Appealing art galleries and studios abound, as do book stores and live music venues. I found a nice surprise since our last visit – a small, amazingly well stocked natural foods store on the main street of Ft. Davis. Another GREAT surprise: the one radio station we could pick up is an NPR station, public radio from Marfa, TX! The hilarious “morning rush hour” report began with a description of the two cars seen on the “Big Hill” into town, with a slow-down required as a family of javelina crossed the road.
Since the campground is in a narrow valley with high ridges on either side, our cell phones didn’t work in camp… and neither did our aircard. It is very unusual for us to be without cell service these days! For phone service, we could either drive up to the scenic overlook on the ridge top, or turn our phones on when we went sightseeing outside of the park. WiFi was available to campers at Indian Lodge, an historic inn on the ground of the state park. We “checked in” once a day, but mostly simply relaxed, hiked, read, or enjoyed the warm, sunny afternoons hanging around camp.