Before moving to Alaska, we spent two weeks bouncing around Texas, visiting family. That meant going from central to south Texas and then back again. We may be relocating to the biggest state in the Union, but Texas is no slouch, so this meant a lot of time on the road.
It was on one of those drives, on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 183 from Refugio to Gonzales, that we had a very pleasant discovery—Goliad State Park and the Mission Espíritu Santo.
A surprisingly moving visit to this little historical site
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.
“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.
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).
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.
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.