Tuesday, October 28, 2014

West Texas: Wide Open Space

Part 2 of 5. 

We woke up before the sun did on Wednesday and went to the Black Bear restaurant for breakfast.  

The lobby had free coffee available from 5-7 a.m. but we were up too late for that, so as it turns out our early is not the same as early for others.  
Once we filled our bellies we grabbed a trail map from the front desk, asked advice on what trail to take and were off.

During the hike some clouds started to roll in and Justin and I almost turned back out of fear of rain and also possibly getting struck by lightning because of all the palms that appeared to have been struck by lightning because of their charred black appearance. Turns out they all looked that way because of a controlled burn. But being the tallest things on the top of the mountain I still think our fear was legitimate.
Controlled burn tree
As we hiked I was most afraid of twisting an ankle and not being able to run the 10K. (2 years ago I don’t know that I would ever have such a thought) Justin later admitted his only thought with every step we took was “no snakes” knowing fully well that had he expressed that thought to me before the hike we would not be on that trail.  The fear is real people.

That's the view from halfway up the mountain. 
Mountaintop groupie
After the hike we cleaned up and checked out of the beautiful Indian Lodge and made our way to the Fort Davis National Historic Site.  We enjoyed the reconstructed barracks, commissary, and fort commander’s house.  Not surprisingly we learned some interesting facts at the hospital where they exhibited the types of tools used in medical practice in the late 1800’s.  Let’s just say medicine has come a long way since germ theory was generally accepted.  The Site also plays recordings over loud speakers of the types of sounds you would have heard throughout the day at the Fort including the daily muster call.  It was a nice touch and added to the overall ambience of the excursion.

Fort Davis National Historic Site
As we were leaving the parking lot we also saw this randomness.  Some horses and goats just walking around like they owned the place.

No hyperbole here.
Then we were off to the Jeff Davis County Courthouse to begin Justin’s spirit quest of taking pictures of the county courthouse in each and every single one of Texas’s 254 counties.  The courthouse was as idyllic as one would expect it to be.

254 counties in Texas. Oh my.

Grabbing a quick lunch we then blasted off to explore space.
On Justin’s Texas bucket list is a star party at the McDonald Observatory. And it’s still on the list because we only managed to make it there for a day tour.  

What did we do? Well we watched an active sunspot, climbed 70 stairs at 6,000 feet above sea level and Justin got to move around an 107” telescope.

We clean up pretty well!
The bottom of the 107" telescope.
We learned about the HET-DEX project in which scientists will be trying to learn more about the expansion of the universe. It’s amazing that we are looking at the past to try to figure out the future.

Where the HET-DEX telescope is housed.
From the observatory we set our sights on Marfa to see what all the fuss was about and hope for a sighting of Kevin Spacey. No luck on the Spacey sighting.

Accommodations for our first night were in Little Pinky at El Cosmico.  Pinky was cute and cozy and had a private bath and shower. It was just that the private bath and shower were outside. Although we knew this was the situation going into the stay we were trepidatious about how it was actually going to work. Turned out there was nothing to worry about and I think there is something oddly freeing about showing outdoors and being able to see your surroundings while you are washing your hair.  Justin says I’m not supposed to have enjoyed it as much as I did, but I honestly dug it.
This might be the best picture of the trip.

Dinner and its accompanying drinks were at Jett’s Grill at the historic Paisano Hotel and while the food got the job done, what we really loved were the Margarita Verdes. There was a happy accident with the margaritas because they ran out of the jalapeño infused tequila and used mezcal instead. It was so good that the next night we had cocktails there and requested the mezcal for the drinks again.
We then went to see Marfa Lights.  Someone believes this is a thing. It’s not the Barbours.
El Cosmico was literally rocking after dinner with live music acts lined up to play until about 11pm. You can either feel old/most definitely your age when you go there or it can make you feel young again. We chose the later.

Missed day one? Read all about it.
The day after today was art overload.
On day four the weather was still perfect.

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