Day 102 – Travel Day to Big Bend, Thursday, February 10, 2011
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” in the title. The discs were courtesy of Schapker Studios. For additional entertainment, I took a few pictures while driving and at rest stops, though I missed the ski boat on its trailer on the side of I-10.
I finally reach 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, saying I only have a little time to allot to each place, so how long did he think I should spend there. His response was, so you’re not hiking? Well, no, I said, 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, I decided I would just see for myself tomorrow. While I certainly appreciate his 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.
I decided to venture out for dinner tonight. My choice of restaurants was The Bear Den or The Bear Den. Yes, there was only one restaurant in town according to the park ranger. She said to drive toward Balmorhea and turn at the big two story house. Mission accomplished. 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 vaguely without much detail. I was feeling somewhat rude, but I wanted to live to see another day. He asserted that he was from East Texas, so just before I left, I asked why he was in the area. He said he was a watermelon farmer. He comes out for a few days a week to fix things. A traveling farmer…huh…seemed a little odd to me. With that, Petey, VANilla, and I returned to our campgrounds at Balmorhea State Park for the night. ETB