Day Twelve: Deep in the Heart of Texas: Texas (Fredericksburg, Sonora, Balmorhea, Fort Davis)

Let’s just get it right out in the open. I’m an idiot. A full fledged maroon. I am incapable of applying past consequences to future actions. After the egregious debacle that was last night, do I call ahead and confirm a camping reservation at my intended destination for tonight? Noooo! Of course I don’t! I just toodle right along without a care in the world!

After a stressful evening, and a night spent tossing and turning despite my posh accommodations, I can’t tell you how happy I was to see a stack of these at the free Bright Eyes Breakfast Buffet.

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The day appeared to be dawning sunny and clear, which boded well. Unwilling to encounter any further delays, I made the executive decision to get the heck out of Fredericksburg without partaking of any of its myriad delights . . . well, except maybe one. I had spotted a kolache shop during all of my circuitous circumnavigating yesterday and I decided to pick a few up for a picnic lunch. The Asian proprietor was quite friendly, and quite enamored of Marigold. He asked me loads of questions and started waxing poetic about how wonderful it would be to live in one. So great was his delight, he even gave me a little lagniappe, because…

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I did. I really did. Soon Annie and I were saying Auf Weidersehen to Fredericksburg (the town has a heavy Germanic influence, and that’s what the signs are marked with as you exit) and speeding along out on the open highway. And if there’s one thing the highways in West Texas are, it’s open. I mean there is jackall to see except limestone hills and road cuts and scrubby little treelets. You can easily go fifty miles between gas stations.

Since there’s not much to dazzle you with about Highway 10 West, let me share a joke I overheard in the Luckenbach P.O. yesterday.

“What did the horse say?”

“I’ve fallen and I cain’t giddy-up!”

This is what passes for humor in Luckenbach Texas. …

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We resume our 80mph drive through the vast enormity of Texas . . .

. . . In Texas, fireworks are Buy ONE, get ELEVEN free!!! . . .

OK, time for a lunch break. We’re passing Senora, which looks to be an actual town, so I decide to see what’s afoot. TripAdvisor tells me they have a nice little nature center with some hiking trails to stretch your legs, but despite using two different GPS apps and searching by name and street address, danged if I can find it. So we pull over under the one little quasi bit of shade we can find on historic Main Street, in front of the offices of the local rag, Devil’s River News. They have a rather realistic looking, pitchfork-wielding diablo painted on their storefront, which I assume is in reference to the “river” which “runs” through town,  Dry Devil’s River, but is still a bit of an unsettling mascot for the paper of record.

Annie and I make quick work of our, frankly mediocre, kolache.

We resume our 80mph drive through the wasteland . . .

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, when I was at The George’s show at Gruene Hall the other evening, at one point, while the band was performing, some woman set her iPhone to video, mounted it on a selfie stick, and proceeded to dance around not more than a foot from the face of the lead singer, recording herself with him. Soooo . . .  I’m not the biggest goon with a selfie stick is alls I’m trying to say.

Driving, driving, driving . . .

Just as I’m thinking about pulling out the ol’ SheWee ’cause my bladder can’t take it anymore, a rest stop emerges from the ether. The rest stop had a cool mosaic of an old timey cavalry man and his horse in the ladies room, but the photo won’t load. Instead you get Annie staring at the same scenery we’ve been looking at for the past three hours.

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But then! Annie met a friend! Named Andi!

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Andi (also a terrieresque lady of distinction) is traveling around with a dude named Ricky. Ricky is cute in a 24ish, dreadlocked (but black so it’s OK), Batman t-shirt, skinny but fit kind of way. Ricky is traveling around for two weeks on some sort of twisted route that started in TexBarkana, went east to South Carolina, south to New Orleans, and will eventually be working its way up the California Coast to catch a ferry to Alaska where he has a job waiting for him at a mine in Juno. Ricky shares that he prefers staying in hotels over camping, but mostly for his dog because she’s a bit spoiled and loves to jump around on the beds as soon as they check in. Andi and Annie share a knowing look. We wish Ricky safe travels and continue on our journey . . . across the endless miles . . .

. . . we start to see wind turbines scattered across the lumpy hills . . .

And then, finally, at long last, after yet another stupid MapQuest detour, we pull into Balmorhea . . . Only to see an enormous sign: CAMPGROUND FULL! (expletive deleted). As I’m standing there, marveling at my own incompetency, a nice ranger fella ambles over. (People amble a lot in Texas). He confirms that yes, the campground is indeed full, and additionally the giant spring-fed pool I’ve come to see will be closing in about 20 minutes, so maybe not worth the $7 entrance fee. But I MIGHT be able to find a vacancy at Fort Davis . . . THIRTY FIVE MILES AWAY!

And that was a loooong 35 miles my friends. Unlike the area I’d been cast out in last night, there was NOTHING for MILES. Just giant cliffs looming up looking ominous and unwelcoming. I still had half a tank of gas and I was afraid I might be stranded and never seen again. If it had been dark I think I may have truly lost it. It was like a scene from some old Western where you just know there’s a Comanche lurking behind a rock and you have nowhere to run. I wish I had pictures, but I was too terrified to stop for even a second. Coming around a bend I saw salvation looming in the form of a rundown old motel and accompanying RV Park. I pulled in immediately and asked the nice non-Native American but the other kind of Indian you don’t expect to see here dude if he had any camping spaces available.  He replies that they don’t offer camping. I point to his sign and say “But you’re an RV park.” Apparently he doesn’t consider that camping. He’s yet further perplexed by Marigold and her non-traditional nature. But he has a spot! And while it’s not the MOST scenic place I’ve ever been, facing certain directions it’s rather picturesque.

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And it has FREE ICE!! FREE ICE! AS MUCH AS YOU WANT!! I CAN HAVE A DIET COKE WITH ICE! And fill my cooler, and my “fridge” and have a whole ICE PARTY!!

AND, I am so energized by this fortuitous turn of events, that I break out the propane stove for the first time and cook myself some Spaghettios! (With cookware that clearly wasn’t cleaned since the last occupant…)

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The night is filling with stars . . . apparently I’m near McDonald Observatory and the skies are super clear here . . . might need to toast to that . . .

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3 thoughts on “Day Twelve: Deep in the Heart of Texas: Texas (Fredericksburg, Sonora, Balmorhea, Fort Davis)

  1. Oh Annie – you and your Boss are having such a wonderful adventure! It’s a good job you are there to keep your Boss company while she’s doing all that driving – but perhaps you ought to “bone up” on map-reading so you can advise her of the best routes (as her electronic navigational aids don’t seem very reliable)! We are really enjoying hearing all about your travels and looking forward to the next instalment!


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