After more than a month visiting family and friends in my home state and Dan’s adopted state of Texas, we headed west to our fall destination, Eagle View RV Resort in Fort McDowell, Arizona. Since we were going that direction anyway, we decided to stop in Alpine and spend 10 more days in the Big Bend Region. We’ve both said if we ever decide to settle down in one area again and could do so, this would be it. Yes, it’s remote. No, it doesn’t offer some of the conveniences other areas do. However, the serenity it provides makes up for anything that might be missing. The difference between this trip and others we’ve made to the area is this time we had company. My Aunt Ruth and Wanda, my 1st cousin, 1x removed (yes, I had to look that up on my ancestry account to get it right) joined us for a few days. I should probably add they are both over 70 years old and drove to the region from east Texas. While I realize a woman, especially a southern woman, isn’t supposed to reveal her age, I don’t think either of them will mind. Dan and I referred to them as Thelma and Louise had they lived after they went over the cliff in the movie. And, no, they didn’t ride the motorcycles to Alpine. They befriended a couple of bikers staying at the same hotel and asked permission to jump on their bikes for a photo opp. Too funny!I had the pleasure of driving them down to Big Bend National Park to experience The Window in the Chisos Mountains and Santa Elena Canyon. The weather was picture perfect, literally, and the drive was absolutely beautiful. Neither of them had ever visited the area and Wanda mentioned it was a bucket-list item for her.
They stayed at the Holland Hotel per our suggestion. I’d won an auction item a few years back which included a stay at this wonderful accommodation, right in downtown Alpine, across the street from the Amtrak train depot. The Holland has been taking care of guests since 1928 and is absolutely beautiful. Aunt Ruth and Wanda love to play dominoes, which they no doubt learned from my grandparents and other family members back in the day. The three of us played moon in the hotel lobby, which I found to be humorous for a number of reasons. If this place could talk, I can only imagine the stories it could tell.We traveled to Fort Davis to show them some of our favorite places to visit, including the Fort Davis Drug Store, where we had lunch. They talked about coming back again to visit so it seemed appropriate to show them additional options of places to stay including the Harvard Hotel in downtown Fort Davis and Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park. Both are beautiful in their own right. Here’s Indian Lodge and its breathtaking views.No trip to Fort Davis would be complete without stopping by the Fort Davis National Historic Site. Aunt Ruth’s husband, Reginald, had served in the military so I knew she would enjoy seeing the beautifully maintained site. With the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, it seemed only right to celebrate with a visit.While they seemed to enjoy all of these things, I think one of their favorite places to visit was Terlingua. I think I’ve shared before that as a photographer, the cemetery is truly one of my favorite places to photograph. It’s both haunting and beautiful. I knew they’d like it and we spent a long time walking around and looking at the gravesites. Then we made our way over to the Starlight Theatre and the porch.I finally got the opportunity to meet Dr. Doug, a fascinating man I’d discovered a few years ago when researching the prior to my first visit. His website made me laugh and I learned a great deal about the area from him. Having finally come face to face with him, I told him I’d followed his website. He said he only created it to drive tourists to the area. As a 20+ year travel and tourism professional, his comment made my day. One person can make a difference. If you’re ever in Terlingua, stop by the porch and get some therapy from Dr. Doug. I felt better almost instantly!One thing every traveler does when they’re visiting is eat, whether they make the food themselves or stop at a restaurant. I’m not a big fan of restaurant chains, so I seldom frequent them. Not to worry. Aside from fast food and pizza, I’ve never seen any chains in the Big Bend Region. We enjoyed our fair share of delicacies at various locations including Guzzi Up, Reata, and the Saddle Club, all in Alpine. All were terrific!Well, the ladies had to get on the road for more adventures so we bid them farewell and looked forward to hearing of their adventures in the future.
In the meantime, we continued our own adventures with beautiful drives around the countryside. We accidentally discovered the Gage Gardens, a 27-acre oasis located a few blocks from the historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas. The hotel is another one I would have suggested to my relatives had we had the time to visit it together. Our dogs, Sadie and Hannah, got the chance to be off leash and take a swim in the pond at the gardens. Lovely, just lovely!My obsession for photographing railroad tracks and trains took us across from the Marfa Lights Viewing Area, which we did not get a chance to enjoy. As my husband can tell you, my love for blue skies and white clouds is immense. My camera comes out just about every time I see them. We saw the train first so we drove far enough ahead for me to get out and capture the picture. I was so happy with the results. And the clouds just kept on coming, even as we drove by Prada Marfa. I snapped this in a moving truck so it could have been better but I liked it. While I still don’t get it, I like to photograph this obscurity in west Texas. Our time in the area came to a close, at least for now, as we packed up the fifth wheel and headed to Arizona. Mother Nature blessed us with a beautiful sunrise and my favorite clouds as we said our goodbyes to this incredible country we’ve called our home, if only for a few weeks at a time. Until next time…until next time. Safe travels!