Ft. Davis: Texas’ frontier army post

A surprisingly moving visit to this little historical site

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We came to Ft. Davis army post expecting to spend an hour tops. We’d been there years ago and remembered it as being a dry, dusty little place, your average 19th-century army fort, with a small cluster of buildings and an American flag flying out front.  A museum in the visitors center orients you to the history; from there you can wander the grounds and inspect the handful of buildings that have been restored, and, if you don’t put this place into its proper historical context, you may forget it as soon as you leave.

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Fort Davis, Texas: The mind-bending McDonald Observatory

 

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The view from Mt. Locke

“I am made of the dust of the stars, and the oceans flow in my veins.”  —Rush, “Presto”

 

One of the best observatories in the world is McDonald Observatory, run by the University of Texas at Austin, my alma mater (hook ‘em!).  It’s situated on a few mountain tops in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.  McDonald Observatory is a mind-bending place to visit–-so many great minds accumulated in one place, researching our vast universe, completing all that advanced math….

This was our third trip to the observatory, and as always, it was overwhelming, but in a good way.

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“Enjoy being smelly!” My niece asks questions about the camping life

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Lacey and I, in Madrid last year
“I read the blog post yesterday; loved it!   I have two very important questions related to that…”

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Marfa, Texas: A surprising, hip, and quirky town in the middle of nowhere

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On one of our trips to Fort Davis years ago, We visited Marfa, which is 21 miles south.  This was back when just about the only thing this tiny town was known for was its mysterious Marfa “ghost” lights.  I don’t remember anything about our time in Marfa other than the fact that we did see the lights, and yes, they were a bit freaky.  But other than that, Marfa seemed like just any other little West Texas town (population: 1,819 as of 2013).

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West Texas: The Davis Mountains

View of the Indian Lodge and Davis Mountains State Park
View of the Indian Lodge and Davis Mountains State Park, taken from a vantage point during one of our hikes

The Davis Mountains hold a special place in our hearts.  Roughly equidistant between Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks, the Davis Mountains are situated in the huge, sparsely-populated area of deep west Texas.  We came out here many times in our 20’s and early 30’s.  The first time we visited, several years before we we were even married, it was with Dale’s parents, and we returned numerous times after that, mostly to camp.

Our return this year was our first visit in probably fifteen years, and I have no idea why we ever stopped coming.

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We’re off again! Our North American road trip begins

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Our new car, parked at a south Texas rest stop on the day we started our journey

We encountered an enormous thunder storm rolling across the plains as we neared Davis Mountains State Park in West Texas.  It was awesome to watch the lightning in the distance.  The storm was on full display, and, since the land stretched out far before us, there was nothing to impede our vision of it.

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Are tourist city passes worth it?

Our take on how to make the most of your big city trip

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A view of the Seattle city skyline from our boat ride on the Puget Sound


Our move to Seattle in January 2012 was the culmination of our dream to experience someplace very different from Texas, and it was also the beginning of our eventual jump into long-term travel.  It whetted our appetite for learning about new places, and we were excited about the cross-country move.

But when we arrived, we were also overwhelmed.  In addition to looking for a place to live, we were challenged with getting to know our new home city.  So much to do!  So much to see!  Where should we start?  To be honest, we didn’t learn a lot about the city ahead of time; we knew that it was beautiful and rainy and home to Starbucks and Gray’s Anatomy, but as for the specifics, we hadn’t much of a clue.

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Arlington National Cemetery

A look at this sacred national treasure on Memorial Day

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Arlington National Cemetery is situated on 624 acres of green, gently rolling land in northern Virginia.  Even if it wasn’t a national shrine to the American soldier, and even if some of the most important historical figures in America weren’t buried here, it would still be a striking place, what with its expansive views of Washington, D.C., which is just across the Potomac River from the cemetery.

But the view that arrests the attention is not that of our nation’s Capitol, but instead of the headstones–row after continuous row of precisely-placed marble slabs, thousands upon thousands of them, stretching across the property as far as the eye can see.  Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for over 400,000 people, and most of their graves are marked with these simple headstones.  As visitors look out over the cemetery, they can’t help but think of the many men and women who have served in the United States armed forces, and it invariably has the effect of leaving one speechless.

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Washington, DC: President Lincoln and Ford’s Theatre

A Presidents’ Day look at Abraham Lincoln’s life, death, and lasting legacy

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A bust of President Abraham Lincoln, displayed at Ford’s Theatre

Today is Presidents’ Day, the perfect day to talk about Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President and without a doubt one of our most important.  He ended slavery, kept America from falling to pieces, and kicked some serious vampire ass (oh wait, that last one is probably fictional–but I’m pretty sure he would’ve been up to the task).

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