2017 Trip Two: Tour of Texas April 22

Fort Davis, Texas Saturday April 22

Fort Davis National Historic Site

What a difference a day makes! Friday the sites were clear and the termperature was in the high 90s. Today as we drove to Fort Davis we encountered gray skies, fog, and temperatures mainly in the 40s. Luckily the border checkpoint (75 miles from the border) was well-marked and could be seen even with the fog. The drive was only 100 miles and the elevation change went from 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet. Still in the desert, though.

Heading for the fog and clouds

Our first stop was a bust. Marfa Texas receives lots of attention as an “in” place to visit. Back in the late 1970s, a major art installation began with works of Donald Judd. Now the Chinati Foundation offers guided and self directed tours of locations where large-scale art and the landscape are linked and in buildings where large-scale art is installed.

One of the large scale Donald Judd concrete art installations

My negative take is based on viewing one site and the fact that other sites are only open for limited times, resulting in the need to stay in this small town all day in order to view them. The long guided tours by docents sell out though, so some people are evidently enthralled by it. We toured the untitled works of Judd in concrete.

Part of my negative take may also be the lack of reasonable food at 9:30 AM. If we stayed longer, options included Dairy Queen and Subway. Other choices also opened later or were back in the high-end cutesy variety. We were out of town by 11 AM.

Fort Davis was a little better in the food choices although the list of restaurants put out by the Chamber had multiple errors in the dates and times the restaurants were open. No Dairy Queen, no Subway. The ice cream store is open Wed-Sun, so that suits us just fine-it was listed as Mon-Fri. Thirteen restaurants are listed, two are open for just two or three days of the week. We had lunch at the state park restaurant, luckily it stayed open until 2 PM (the brochure siad it would be open for dinner. Wrong.) One of the restaurants is usually open on Saturday but for some reason it was closed yesterday.

Our choice for dinner opened at 5 PM. We got there are 5:05 and the next opening was at 7 PM. I was not sure if that restaurant is usually crowded or if the crowd was due to the Christian Motorcyclists Association being in town and taking up all of the few food choices. Yes, the CMAs were on Harleys and had their leathers on but they looked to be at least 65 years old, overweight, and there were a lot of trikes among the motorcycles. Dinner was at Lupita’s, a small Mexican restaurant with seven tables-all occupied.

Part of Officers Row at Fort Davis

Fort Davis is home to the Fort Davis National Historic Site. Described as the one of the best remaining frontier military post in the Southwest, the fort is also known as home to the Buffalo Soldiers, the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry comprised of all “colored men”; except for the officers. The Buffalo Soldiers were stationed here from 1867 to 1885.

From the video and displays, the fort may have been a critical component in maintaining the peace during the Indian Wars but the soldiers spent more time on buidling the fort, roads and telegraph lines than fighting. The San Antonio-El Paso Road goes right by the fort. The fort was established in 1854 as part of the guarantee to Mexico to stop marauding Indians from crossing the border. In 1891 it was abandoned, having outlived its usefulness. For the next 70 years it was lightly used and started to deteriorate. In 1963 it became a national historic site.

From the fort, we drove to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens. We had a nice walk through the gardens; everything was blooming nicely due to their drip irrigation system. But what I really wanted to mention was the greenhouse. The greenhouse is devoted to preserving the natural diversity of the desert. For us, it was an eye-opener.

Some of the many cacti in the greenhouse at Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center in Fort Davis, TX

The greenhouse is chock-full of cacti; varieties of cactus we had never seen before. Yes, I know we are from Minneosta but we have been traveling for several years and have visited numerous deserts, desert gardens, and botanical centers. The differing colors, styles, formations, etc. just were mind-boggling. A few of the more interesting ones, to us, are shown above. I could present many more.

Saturday night’s activity will be included in the blog post for Sunday.

Ed and Chris

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