canal at balmorhea state park

Day 102 – Travel Day to Big Bend

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Day 102 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

I spent most of the day driving and listening to two discs worth of songs with the word “Road” in the title.  Actually, 23 songs had the word “Road” in the title and one song had the word “Highway”.  The discs were courtesy of Schapker Studios.  For additional entertainment, I took a few pictures while driving.

I-10 in West Texas

Balmorhea State Park

I finally reached Balmorhea State Park in mid-afternoon.  Its claim to fame is a two acre swimming pool fed by hot springs.  With the air temperature hovering in the 40s, 75 degree water wasn’t warm enough to entice me into the pool.  Instead, I walked around the small park and visited the San Solomon Cienega, a spring fed desert wetland.  Two endangered desert fish live in these waters; the Pecos gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish.  To my knowledge, I didn’t see either one, but the clear spring and high grassland was a peaceful place.

While walking around the campground I met a “full-timer”, meaning he has gone to full-time RVing.  He was retired military (though appeared young), and after completing his duties with the army he and his family left North Carolina and took six months to get to Texas.  He is home schooling his kids.  They had just visited Fort Davis. 

I asked him how much time I should allow to tour the fort, and he responded, “As much as you want.” 

I rephrased the question, “I only have a little time to allot to each place, so how long do you think I should spend there?”

His asked, “so you’re not hiking? 

I replied, “I don’t know what I am doing there.  Do you have to hike to get to the ruins?”

After a few more back and forths without an answer to my simple question, I decided I would just see for myself tomorrow.  While I certainly appreciate his service as well as all veterans’ service to our country and have the utmost respect for them, I’m concerned about the future generation if he is home schooling his kids.  I can’t say he was the sharpest knife in the drawer.

The Bears Den (Permanently Closed)

I decided to venture out for dinner tonight.  My choice of restaurants was The Bears Den or The Bears Den.  Yes, there was only one restaurant in town according to the park ranger.  She gave me directions, “Drive toward Balmorhea and turn at the big two story house.”  Mission accomplished. 

Bears Den

The restaurant was ready for lovebirds to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Red lights and a heart shaped wreath decorated the exterior, while cupids hung from the ceilings in every room.  I sat in the corner and perused an extensive menu from blackened catfish to fajita nachos.  Mexican food seemed like a safe bet, so I ordered chicken flautas…not bad.  The chips and salsa were fantastic. 

The all-in-one waitress, cashier, and owner told me I was lucky to find them, as they were on vacation in Las Vegas and almost didn’t open tonight. Lucky indeed!   While I waited for my food, a cowboy type sat at the table across from me.  The waitress knew him well, so I thought he was a local.  Aware of all the unrest near the borders, I was cautious to engage in much conversation.  But he just kept asking me questions. 

I answered politely, but without much detail.  I was feeling somewhat rude, after he asserted that he was from East Texas and just before I left, I asked, Why are you in the area?”

He replied, “I’m a watermelon farmer and come out for a few days a week to fix things.”  A traveling farmer! Huh, I never knew such a thing.  With that, Petey, VANilla, and I returned to our campgrounds at Balmorhea State Park for the night. ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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