Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fort Davis

Drive north a few hours out of Big Bend National Park, through Alpine, TX and a surprisingly beautiful Sul Ross University, and you will bump into a real gem of a small, West Texas town; Fort Davis.

The drive itself starts out flat. Flat and nothing. Flat and nothing but flat and nothing. For a very, very long time. This flat nothingness is so boring that even the short trees and scrub brush is too tired to grow. Nothing but a long, straight road with hundreds of miles of fence along each side. Somebody owns this land. I wonder what they do with it?

But eventually the random smatterings of mountains that dot this nothingness start to converge until you are driving up and around and through them. These are beautiful mountains, red and brown and glistening in the near constant sunshine.

Pockets of cottonwood trees pop up out of nowhere along with their friends the pinon pine and mesquite trees. Thar's water in them thair hills somewhar.

The town of Fort Davis is quaint with a quintessential town square and municipal building that could have served as the backdrop when McFly went back to the future.

The whole town is an old-fashioned tourist trap trying to find it's way to the future. Next to the old pharmacy complete with soda fountain is a whole foods market as well stocked as we've seen for a mom and pop store. Between an RV park and laundromat is a natural healing, stone and crystal type of hippie joint. The new new is the 70's.

Also in the town is the Fort Davis National Historic Site. It houses relics and rebuilds of an important fort that served to protect West Texas from Native Americans and bandits from 1854-1891. The Confederate Army was stationed there as were regimens of the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black infantry that so famously kept at bay some of the most dangerous and violent Native American tribes such as the Apaches and Comanches.

There is a wonderful opportunity for a hands on history lesson.

Maybe next time..... (I know, shame on us. But we were tired I tell you! Desert dry, burnt out, stick of fork in me tired! History is just too tiring when you're already worn out.)

Slightly north of Fort Davis is Fort Davis State Park. It's not a very large park but it's housed within the crook of the beautiful Davis Mountains (named after "Jeff" Davis as he's known in these parts).

At the top of the highest peak within the park is a scenic overlook. After taking a switchback road to the top (me with my eyes closed), you can get a beautiful view of this rough and ready area.

(If you look closely on those distant mountains, you can see small bumps sticking up. Those are the observatories at the McDonald Observatory. We enjoyed a night under the stars at a "Star Party" where we got to look through some of their impressive telescopes. I didn't take any photos there. I would have gotten pushed off the mountain by the long-haired guide for using flash photography. I believed him. Even hippies get tough out here in the middle of nowhere.)

This is the other side of the mountain. Rolling hills on one side, flat plains on the other. Somewhere down there is a HUGE greenhouse glinting like a mirage in the wide-open space. I wonder what they grow in there? Something properly Texas-sized, I'm sure.

Even though there is nothing obvious to do on top of the mountain, we went a few times just to enjoy the scenery. Sometimes a place is fun with nothing more to offer than rocks and a view.

Paige hunted like a beagle, sniffing out hundreds of small quartz crystals. Now I understand the rock store in town.

Phoebe busied herself by denuding a poor, unsuspecting flowering bush.

Josh did what any decent boy would do. He threw rocks off of the side of the mountain.

And Jerry did what any decent semi-grown-up boy would do: He joined in.

As for me? I sat. I sat and sat and sat. And was perfectly happy. In my yoga pants.