Thursday, April 30, 2015

Our Last Two Days in Texas – Big Bend State Park, Marfa and Fort Davis

After a final breakfast at Posada Milagro in the Terlingua Ghost Town, we drove west along the Rio Grande to Presidio, then headed north through Marfa to Fort Davis, where we had a chance to visit with friends who had retired there from D.C.  Back in Austin at the beginning of our vacation, our host had recommended that we drive west from Terlingua instead of head directly to Fort Davis by way of Alpine, saying that the road west was particularly scenic, and a park ranger back in Big Bend National Park, when we first arrived a few days before, on hearing that we had an especial interest in wildflowers, recommended that we drive west of Terlingua because the wildflowers were already out on display even though it was still early in the spring.

These were good recommendations.   The scenery was dramatic, with good views both of the Rio Grande running between the two countries and high cliffs on both sides of the road

Unlike our previous drives, where at best there were flowers in bloom along the road where thew runoff provided enough water, in this area the flowers ran into the distance and up the hills toward the cliffs behind

We stopped to look at some of the flowers more closely

Prickly poppy

Eventually, the land flattened out as we drove into the border town of Presidio, where we thought of stopping for lunch, but seeing nothing that appealed we just turned north toward Marfa.  Marfa is a cute little town with some historic buildings, such as this hotel, movie theater and church

We paused for lunch at Comida Futura, which sounded as if it might be pretty good but late in the lunch hour they had just plain run out of many of their dishes.

After lunch, we explored the Presidio County Courthouse, which had been lovingly renovated.

Some of the fine little details included the tin ceiling inside an office, this wonderful hinge and stairpost

I have argued in several state courts in Texas, but none of the courtrooms had been as nice as this one.

The judge was not there – in fact, he rides circuit in several rural counties and is in Marfa only a few times each month

A clerk suggested that we should also take a look at the courthouse in Fort Davis, which, she suggested, as even fancier.  Here then is the Jeff Davis County Courthouse:

Here it was the courtroom itself that had a tin ceiling

We spent the afternoon with our hosts, my Reed College classmate Dedie and her husband Lonn and Dedie who then brought us back to Marfa for dinner at Cochineal.  Fairly small place; the dishes that stood out for me were the artichoke hearts with ravioli and the rack of lamb. 

 We splurged on dessert – I decided to try their flourless chocolate souffle to see whether theirs was as good as the one I make; it wasn’t bad, but the date pudding was better.

 An only-in-a-small town experience – the fellow at the next table allowed as how he was visiting from Europe and he and his dining companion had come to Marfa on the spur of the moment but was contemplating a night in their rental car because there were no empty accommodations for rent.  So Dedie called over the restauranteurs, who were friends, and got them to work on the task of finding a place where this perfect stranger could stay for the night.  The problem had not been resolved as we drove back to their house in Ft. Davis, but everyone was confident that it would be solved and that these folks would not be spending the night in a car.

We had to leave for the Midland Odessa Airport by late the following morning, but first we took a short walking tour of Fort Davis, past the edge of the Davis Mountains State Park

and into Fort Davis itself, a fort that had no stockaded walls and, apparently, never had a protective wall.

On the way back, we passed this house which I gather is one of the oldest in Ft. Davis

The drive to the airport was fun for the first half hour or so, as we passed through the edge of the Davis Mountains; then the land became flat, flat, flat.  This was the Texas oil country we have heard about, the monotony of the landscape broken up only by oil wells, some of which were pumping and others shooting flames into the sky.

As we got within an hour of the airport, the rain picked up and became truly torrential, with huge ponds of water forming along the roadside.  At the airport, we learned that Midland was getting more than its normal annual allotment of rain in this week alone.  Happily, the precipitation had subsided by the time of our departure, and we had an easy flight home,

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