|I am now completely caught-up with posting photos for the past month. If you'd like, take a quick scan back through the last month or so to see them.
With all due respect & appreciation to the grandeur & beauty in every direction & the friendship of Joe & Dana, we were both ready yesterday to move-on from Big Bend to land in new scenery.
Based on our experiences thus far, including our pre-full-timing days, I suspect that the itch to move-on will begin to infect us from just about anywhere that we land after a week or so. There may be some "homes" where we will stay longer, but I don't think that there will be very many of them.
As we rolled-out the fifty or so miles to get from the campground to the western boundary of the park, we had a totally different perspective than any we had had during the week.
You might recall that most of our entry into the park was made during darkness when we were able to see only what the headlights showed us.
The plastic headlight lenses have some yellowing & spider-webbing that I suspect limits the amount of light actually shining through. I had actually considered having the lenses replaced before we started this trip.
I did not have them replaced, thinking that I would be driving very infrequently after dark. I still think that is good logic, but in this particular instance, I would liked to have had just a tad bit more light.
As we rode the roads on the bike, our perspective was also different from that while driving the bus, even during the daylight, due to the difference in head-height relative to the ground. I always enjoy the higher seat of the bus & the increased vision that it provides.
So, bottom line, exiting the park in the bus during daylight gave us a different perspective than we had had previously. I had hoped that with that additional visibility we might see some more javelinas or other wildlife, but such was not to be.
Our route was to take us out the western gate of the park & then due north on Texas Highway 118 for 103 miles to Ft. Davis. We made an impromptu decision to detour onto Farm (state) Road 170 to see the community of Lajitas, 17 miles off of Highway 118.
Several people had mentioned to us that Lajitas was a scenic touristy community. If it had been just a little later in the morning, we could have had Fajitas in Lajitas.
Back to Highway 118, headed north. 70-75 miles north of the exit from the park, we had our second experience in recent days with a Border Patrol inspection station.
The first experience was during our drive from Del Rio to Big Bend, a week earlier. We had seen an inspection station in the east-bound lane as we were west-bound. Several miles further down the road, after passing an intersection of a highway that came-up from the direction of the border, we had our first encounter.
These inspection stations are set-up somewhat like weigh stations, a permanent structure on the side of the road. If the station is being manned, the agents place cones in the traffic lane to guide you through the station's portico.
In that first encounter, there was no traffic in front of me as I eased up to the "inspection" point. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was somewhat surprised at its brevity.
I opened my window, the agent mumbled something that ended in "citizen", I said yes, & he waved me on.
With that background, I approached yesterday's station. We did note that as we approached that two agents came from their "office", one to stand on each side of the bus.
Again, I eased-up with no traffic in front of me, I opened my window, & after an exchange of pleasantries, the increased interrogation began. An interrogation yes, but done with professionalism & courtesy. The questions.... Nation of citizenship for myself? Nation of citizenship for my passenger? Where coming from? How long there? Enter Mexico at all? Where going? Hometown?
Apparently my responses were convincing, for he then waved me on through.....but not before I did my own interrogation. I asked him about grocery shopping in Alpine, the next town up the road.
The agent told us that there were a couple of small town groceries in Alpine, but apparently GyPSy Lady's route bypassed them, or we simply missed them. Before we knew it, we were on the north side of town, headed-out into open range land again.
As we passed through Fort Davis, a micro-town, we made a millisecond decision to stop at a roadside grocery. I was able to pull the bus & trailer onto the gravel shoulder.
While Vicki went in for the shopping, I took the few minutes to jump on the internet. I didn't get much accomplished, but it was fun trying to do so while parked on the shoulder of this hamlet.
While we continued in mountainous terrain throughout most of the day, the terrain was still different from what we were accustomed to in Tennessee or even in Big Bend.
In Tennessee, once you are in the Great Smoky Mountains, it is continuous mountains, with no flat or rolling terrain mixed-in. There are the foothills & then there are the mountains.
In Big Bend, the mountains were here & there, with lots of open, relatively flat terrain in-between. That flat terrain had only cactus & scrub-brush growing sparsely.
In the area that we were passing through yesterday, the mountain peaks were still here & there, not continuous as in Tennessee, but the vegetation growing on the flat & rolling terrain was more like tall grasses.
As I have said before, much of what we are finding so interesting is the diversity of each area that we enter.
That is exactly why Baskin-Robbins offers 31 flavors, & the M & M's come in multiple flavors. If Baskin-Robbins only offered vanilla, or M & M's only came in chocolate, or the terrain was identical in all areas, how boring life would be!!!!
Mid-afternoon we pulled into Balmorhea State Park, about 5 miles south of I-10, 40 miles south of Pecos, TX, & 200 miles east of El Paso.
This park is relatively small, composed of 34 campsites, an 18-unit, single-level motel, & its centerpiece, San Solomon Springs. S/S Springs feed water into a two-acre, 3.6 million gallon swimming pool.
The pool's bottom features sand, rocks, & native aquatic plants, & its waters teem with freshwater fish, turtles & birds that are native to the area. The pool's sidewalls are concrete. The water is sooooo clear & clean that even at the pool's 25-ft depths the bottom appears to be just below the surface.
Schools of fish & minnows are rampant throughout the pool. As we walked the decking around the pool today, we saw several turtles, some sunning until we interrupted their solitude, others scampering into the vegetation as we passed-by.
The water's temperature remains in the range of 72-76 degrees year-round due to its spring-feed. The spring feeds approximately a million gallons of water into the pools per hour.......now that's a bigggg spring!!!!!!
The pool is used for swimming, snorkeling & scuba diving. I had a hint today that I might have more to say about that tomorrow, stay tuned.
The park has designed the pool to provide waterflow into a series of irrigation canals within the park, which like the pool, are very clear & clean, contain interesting aquatic plants & fish.
I made a solo run into Pecos today on the bike to pick-up some needed groceries that we weren't able to get at Fort Davis yesterday. I went solo as we continue to get Vicki eradicated from her coughs that have been lingering now for wayyyy too long.
Pecos was certainly no metropolis, but it at least had a WalMart, not a SuperCenter, but still a W/M with a few grocery items. I suspect Pecos' location just off of I-20 was the justifying factor for it to have a WalMart.
Heavy winds had been forecast for the day. They were beginning to blow slightly when I left the bus; by the time that I started back, the winds were making up for lost time. They were very gusty.
Yesterday when we arrived here, it looked like a convention of silver bullets. There were 12-15 Airstream trailers scattered around. You typically see one or two of the Airstreams around, but there was definitely some specific reason for this many. We later learned that they were members of a club, all of whom vacated today.
To replace them, we have an all-new crowd in here tonight. I almost feel like I should be part of the welcoming committee, having one-night's seniority on the rest of the crowd.
Till tomorrow, I'm signing-out from here.