Monday, 4/5/21: Miles and Miles of Texas

Rock formations like French bread standing on end.

I started tamin’ broncos

Made every rodeo

Until I met a rough one

His name was Devil Joe

I grabbed hold of his bridle

To ride this old outlaw

Threw me from the saddle

And this is what I saw

I saw miles and miles of Texas

All the stars up in the sky

I saw miles and miles of Texas

Gonna live there ‘till I die

Awww, fiddles now

—Asleep At The Wheel

And that is just what we saw today - miles and miles of Texas, 550 miles worth. We left Magnolia Beach in the dark at 5:35 am and didn’t checkin at Davis Mountain State Park until 4:05 pm.

So, here’s the thing. Texas, as far as I could can gather, is basically split in two. East Texas, from Dallas to Austin to San Antonio, seemed rather ordinary and nondescript. There were pockets of uniqueness, like the Gulf town of Port O’Connor, the dunes of Padre Island, the cleanest beach in Texas at Rockport, the reservoirs administered by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the BBQ town of Lockhart. However, on the whole, East Texas was a lot of typical endless American urban sprawl. It has its share of the beauty that is associated with wealth and the abandoned junkiness attached to people that couldn’t make a go of it or didn’t care.

West Texas, on the other hand, is the gateway to the American Southwest. In our first week in Texas, we started to see the beauty of West Texas in the Hill Country, some 50 miles west of Austin when we explored the Longhorn Cavern, the wonderful Luchenbach, the artsy Fredericksburg, toured the Windy City Loop, and were amazed by the zillion wineries tucked into the hills.

Today, we didn’t enter West Texas until 50 or so miles northwest of San Antonio. But when we slipped into it, it was exhilarating. Flat top buttes, interspersed with an occasional round top hill, began lining the horizon, near and far. The sparse prickly vegetation had its own beauty. The landscape was splashed with subtle pastel tan and green diluted watercolors. Urban development hasn’t marred this part of the desert wilderness yet. I liked it a lot.

The best was yet to come. When we finally left I-10, after 300 miles, we entered the Davis Mountains. Playfully nicknamed the Texas Alps, The short but rugged mountain range is home to Baldy Peak, the second highest peak in Texas clocking in at 8,378’.

Some of the exposed rock formations are in the shape of French baguettes standing vertically on end. Strange vegetation dot the arid landscape. The place looks like an alien exoplanet. The campground is nuzzled into a valley surrounded by steep hillsides. The campsites are well laid out to make the best use of the topography. There is a dry gulch running through the middle of the campground with a flood gauge erected on the bank. At the 5 foot flood stage, most of the campground would flow down the torrent.

After setting up, we had just enough time to drive the 21 miles to Marfa, a tiny art Mecca in the desert. A few decades back, an artist named Judd blew into town and molded it into a art haven devoted to minimalist art. Marfa is also the setting from the acclaimed but gruesome movie, No Country For Old Men. The mayor was one of the characters in the movie.

Two exclusive hotels, probably the only two west of San Antonio for 500 miles, seem to be thriving. Sadly, it was late and the town was put to bed. Perhaps we will have time tomorrow to revisit. Tomorrow will be a big day.

Our campsite at Davis Mountains State Park.

Gorgeous vistas.

Strange vegetation.

Marfa, the art Mecca of the desert.

Texas does build wonderful government buildings.

Part of the historic and swanky Hotel Paisano.

Hotel Paisano.

The Brite Building.

Marfa can do seedy artistically.

Green house farming. An outfit called Village Farms has erected several of these farms under glass throughout the broad valleys of the Davis Mountains.

Ice cream shop in Fort Davis. Sadly, we got there too late.

The map of our journey so far.

Dave and Wanda

Mask up to save lives.

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