Friday, November 6, 2009
The wind flapped our TN flag all night long. We had been afraid the temperature might be in the 40’s and without the heater we would be cold – but it was 60 in the Sprinter when we woke up this morning. The wind was fairly strong and required a wind jacket when out early. This location is on Mountain Time but we just stayed on Central since we would be back in Central Time zone by mid day today. The sun was bright and there was a clear blue sky. We left after eating breakfast for three short hikes in the park before we headed south.
Campsite at Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The first hike we took was from the visitor center to the Butterfield Stage Ruins – this was the precursor of the Pony Express. The stage ran from St. Louis to San Francisco with several stops along the way – this being one of them. We photographed some of the desert plants and the mountain peaks.
The second hike was at McKettrick Canyon. This was along a small stream that ran through McKettrick Canyon. The hike was much longer than we could take today but Jane was hoping to reach the stream so we could see the maple trees that supposedly grow along the stream. We hiked about half a mile and had not come to the stream so we turned around and headed back. We did see some of the red sumac and yellow walnuts that we had been seeing along the road. Even without seeing the stream the hike allowed us to experience beautiful weather and views.
Our third venture turned out not to be a hike but a small historic home – a ranch house that was occupied until the 1970’s by families who were working the ranch. They raised lamas and sheep and took the wool 60 miles south to Van Horn. They had kept the farm as it had been in the 30’s and had photographs of the history of the area from the late 1800’s until the park was formed in the 1980’s.
Our exploring of the park over we headed south to Van Horn TX. There was not much to Van Horn. We ate a picnic lunch under a tree in the parking lot of a out-of-business Pizza Hut. We then visited a Dollar General Store – the main business in town -and purchased bandana handkerchiefs and some saline nose spray. Humidity of 20% is hard on the nasal passages and Ben realized he left his handkerchiefs wherever he left his socks!!! Shopping over, we headed south towards Fort Davis where we hoped the Indian Lodge would have room for us Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday.
The terrain during the morning was very stark – the high rocky mountains above the flats with scrub plants. The ranches were large as it took lots of acres for each steer to graze. Most of the ranches seemed to be for cattle and some horses. After we crossed I 10 the mountains were not as high and the ground had much more grass. The cattle herds were larger. We left the main road and went across about 10 miles of farm road – but it was of good quality – to join up with the road into Fort Davis.
We arrived in Fort Davis and drove through town to the State Park – we negotiated a change in the reservations and unpacked. Jane was going to wash clothes in town but we decided to just do nothing….a rest, catching up on internet and reading travel brochures took up the couple hours until supper time. Tomorrow we explore the town, wash, and go to the Observatory.
The Indian Lodge was built by the CCC and about half is original with the other half built to resemble the original portion. There are all kinds of nooks and passageways and a very welcoming lobby. We thought we might use the internet in the lobby but it works in our room as well. The dining room was simple but served excellent food. We had chicken fried steak that was great along with veggies, soup, salad. Then it was back to the room for some TV and catching up on the blog.
Signs on all doors at Indian Lodge say mountain lions have been seen in the park – If I see one I hope I am in the van!