We wanted to make the most of our days so we rose early on Monday and actually went north for a bit. Several people had told us to stop in Fort Davis, which is the site of one of a chain of forts constructed following the Gold Rush, intended to protect travelers and the mail. It was an active fort from 1854 – 1891, except for about five years during and following the Civil War. African Americans who served in the army after the Civil War, called Buffalo Soldiers, were stationed at Fort Davis, and Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point, served as a second lieutenant there.
By now you all must know Larry, our next door neighbor at Traveler’s World, who has recommended breakfast spots for us all winter long. Believe it or not, he suggested we stop at Fort Davis Drug Store and Hotel, and once again, his suggestion was a good one. Actually the breakfast was not as delicious as some of his other suggestions, but imagine eating in an establishment that opened in 1913 as a drug store, hotel, general store and an authentic soda fountain – talk about one stop shopping!
Following our breakfast and a quick tour of Fort Davis, we drove back though Marfa and headed south toward Presidio. When we reached Presidio, we began one of the most beautiful rides I have ever experienced. The River Road literally parallels the Rio Grande River and travels through what they proudly call “the other side of nowhere,” Big Bend Ranch State Park, which boasts rugged mountains, steep canyons and amazing views. Not to get political, but it was during this segment of our journey, looking out over the beauty of the Rio Grande River with Mexico on the other side, that I wondered how anyone could think of building a wall – enough said! We stopped at several overlooks and then did a short hike at Hoodoos and Balancing Rocks. Led by cairns, we wandered down over rocks until we reached several formations that do, indeed, appear to be balancing on top of each other.
Our final destination today was Terlingua Ghost Town, where we had booked a house through airbnb for the next two nights. Before checking in we stopped at the outskirts of town at the Chili Pepper Cafe for a late lunch/early dinner. One thing I am really going to miss when we leave Texas next week is the authentic Mexican cuisine, as I am sure you will miss seeing our overflowing plates of food! We then found our way to our temporary home and what a unique place it was!
What amazed me about Terlingua is that it truly is a ghost town, yet it is also the site of the World Championship Chili Cook-off, held every year in November. Seeing how few homes and businesses there are in the area, I can’t even begin to imagine where everyone stays or eats – although I guess everyone’s eating chili at that particular event!
Our hostess, Betty, moved from Austin to Terlingua over 35 years ago and has renovated this limestone miner’s casita, as well as two others in the area. We had to duck to enter, as well as to walk down into the bedroom, and the very well-appointed bathroom was approximately three steps out the back door! And check out the outside limestone walls where visitors leave a remembrance of their visit. One’s imagination could go crazy trying to write those stories!
Before we settled in for the night, we wandered up to the Starlight Theater Restaurant and Saloon and had an adult beverage at the porch bar. We also walked through the Terlingua Trading Company, attached to the Starlight, whose porch is lined with benches where locals come – even with their own beer – and just sit a spell.
We were certainly in for a treat as we sat outside our cottage and watched the sun go down and spent the evening – with no television – reading and watching the stars! The absolutely magnificent view of the night sky occurred in the middle of the night when we had to walk outside to use the facilities. I just stood there amazed at what I saw! There are no words; there is no picture…just imagine!
It was a day filled with beauty, yet there was so much more to come!
Stay Calm and Travel On…