After two weeks in arid desert, coming to the oasis that is Balmorhea State Park was a shock to the system. Here in the middle of the dryness, an underground spring pumps a million gallons an hour out of a fault in the limestone covering a huge underground aquifer. Because the water comes from a fixed distance underground and is moving so rapidly, it is always 72º on the surface. This torrent has been channeled into the world's largest spring fed swimming pool, an amazing sight in the desert. Things were quiet here today, since swimming in 72º water isn't all that appealing when the air temperature is less than 60º, but it's easy to imagine this huge pool, full of delighted Texans when those summer temperatures begin to climb. People who are learning how to scuba dive also come here to practice in water that's so clear, their instructor can easily notice if they are having difficulties. The water drains out into a swampy area the Mexicans call a cienega, where two endangered species of fish hang out. Bird life is prolific here as well; we didn't realize how much we had been missing their cheerful noise until we got here. Up the road a few miles the water is gathered once again into a huge lake that appears to be popular with fishermen. What a treat in this barren area.
Once again we are very impressed by the camping facilities at Texas State Parks. Our spacious site comes with a grill, fire ring, and shelter as well as the usual utilities. We had made a reservation to stay here for two nights, but circumstance forces us to move on tomorrow. The modest fee for that second night was quickly and cheerfully refunded. There's also a quaint adobe hotel here, built by the CCC in the 1930's. We look forward to using our Texas State Parks pass again soon. These folks really know how to construct a campground.