Thursday, May 3, 2007

Learning more about west Texas. . . .

Tuesday, May 1

It’s May Day! Happy May Day to all you readers. Had a good shower, stuff is packed inside almost ready to go. My banged shin hurt for awhile then I finally fell asleep. And, naturally no rain since I closed the windows!

In order to use the water at your camping site you are paying for, you must turn it on after hooking up! DA!

The two other Casita folks left around 9 a.m. That’s when I would have left also, but alas my door lock wouldn’t lock. So I spent an hour taking it apart, putting back together, trying it out, taking it apart, putting it back together and trying it out. Finally, about the 4th time I got it right -no let me rephrase that - it stayed together long enough for me to get it attached to the door. Finally on the road again. The other two Casitas had stopped at Langtry and I continued onward. The overcast started to clear away and it started warming up, I turned the AC on low and it felt good. Since there weren’t any radio stations I wanted to listen to (I found 4), I plugged in my CD’s and sang my way down the road. Glad it was only my 3 friends to hear me and they are deaf anyway.

The area is mostly ranching, though saw little in cattle but a lot of goats and sheep at first. I didn’t see cattle until I got to the higher elevations and less rocky terrain. It’s very barren, with mostly your succulent plants. One yucca beside the highway was very, very tall and was covered with 5 blossom stems. I had never seen one that tall - you could stand 3 men on each other’s shoulders and it was taller than that. It was beautiful. I stopped and fueled up at Sanderson on US 90 and bought some groceries. With the AC on, pulling the trailer, and climbing I managed to get 14.3 mpg. I was really surprised. Course I wasn’t driving over 60 mph either!

It wasn’t too long after Sanderson, that the other 2 Casitas caught up with me. I stayed with them until Alpine where they fueled up and I went on to Fort Davis State Park. They came in as I was finishing my registration. Alpine is the home of Sul Ross State University and what a massive presence it has in Alpine. When I was in college back in the XX’s, Sul Ross’s rodeo team was always a strong contender at the college rodeos I went to. Some years it dominated the region and the national collegiate rodeos.

This is a beautiful place, high up in elevation, mountains. The campground is quite large and accommodates all kinds of camping - they even have cable TV hookup. Up the road aways is the McDonald Observatory. I will be visiting there as well as Historic Fort Davis back down the road. We are nestled in a wide canyon where it is cooler than out on the Plains.

Just last Sunday (when we were getting rained on) they had a tornado hit right outside the Park entrance. It took out one tree apparently just bouncing down on that poor tree and then back up into the air. There had not been one recorded in the history of this particular area. The other couples and I had a late lunch/dinner at the beautiful Indian Lodge’s Bear Restaurant (there are black bear living in the area). This was built by CCC workers in the 30’s. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.

After our delicious meal, I came back to take a short nap before going to the Observatory for Star Night, but didn’t wake up until 8:30 and too late to go. I finished unpacking stuff and will be getting ready for bed here in a bit. Good night and sleep tight.

Wednesday, May 2

I had all the windows open last night so I could hear the “night sounds” and there were many. The moonlight came through the back window and it was cozy in here. It got cold around 5 a.m. so I turned the heater on for awhile to take the chill off.

Today, I plan on taking the Skyline Drive up the mountain, visiting the Observatory and Historic Fort Davis AND finding somewhere to send my emails out and update my blog. Am taking lots of pictures but looks like I may have to work on that when I get to my son’s place next weekend.

While waiting for my water to heat up for my shower, I stepped outside and saw some deer right across the road from my camp site. They acknowledged my presence but continued on with their foraging. Would like to have gotten a picture but they blended in with the foliage.

I met the couple next to me and they are from the Baton Rouge area - Randy and Daphanie - on their way to California. Randy helped me with backing the trailer into my spot. We visited about places to see on the way to California and I told him I was going to

Well, found a laundrymat so will catch you up on the days activities. I drove up Skline Drive to the top of a mountain and WOW what view all the way around. The gradual rise of the plains to the east to mountains, thunder clouds developing around the mountains was quite a site to see. Down the mountain scenic drive to the McDonald Observatory. Lo and behold there were my Louisiania neighbors. we had a 45 minute intro to what they do and what they look for, how the telescopes work, etc. We did get to see very brieftly a shot of the sun, a sunspot and some solar flares before the clouds blocked out the view.

On a bus we rode up to see the second telescope built on the mountain, I think it is now around 40-50 years old but is still used. The tour guide showed us how it moves up and down and around and how the cover moves to accomodate the telescope. When we came out of the show, the mountain top was in clouds so we couldn’t see much. The guide explained how the telescope works (don’t ask but it has mirrors that reflect or refract - son is going to kill me not using the right terminology) When we came out of the observatory the sun had come out, we loaded back into the bus and headed for the newest telescope. It was different in that it has 91 curved mirrors to receive (that much I remember). It is tied for being the 3rd largest telescope in the world. The scenry was of more interest to me - sorry astronomy buffs, but you can check out more info at their website:

From there I went to Historic Fort Davis. What a huge fort. The size drawfs me. Very nicely restored too and you are able to see inside some buildings. The parade ground is huge and at night before turning in, the soldiers would line up by their companies for review and they would have to march around the parade ground twice - the first time at a cadence of 100 beats per minute and the second time around 165 beats per minute. No wonder they slept good after that, including the band members.

Finished laundry and caught up with my Casita friends from Louisiana and Texas at the Black Bear Restaurant at the Lodge and am now enjoying this simply scrumptious lemon meringue pie with a cup of coffee. Then I’ll be ready for a shower and bed. Good night.

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