Monthly Archives: February 2015

Davis Mountains State Park

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View from the top of the Indian Lodge Trail at Davis Mountains State Park in west Texas.

View from the top of the Indian Lodge Trail at Davis Mountains State Park in west Texas.

Saturday, February 7 – Fort Davis, TX

Yesterday we made the 150 mile drive from Big Bend National Park to Davis Mountains State Park. We’ve been to Big Bend twice before so we didn’t feel the need to stay longer than a few nights. This morning we’re exploring the town of Ft. Davis and treating ourselves to breakfast at the Texas Inn.

Ft. Davis has quite a few restaurants which seems unusual for a town of this size.

Ft. Davis has quite a few restaurants which seems unusual for a town of this size.

 

Cindy and I enjoy a great breakfast at the Texas Inn. They also serve lunch and dinner.

Cindy and I enjoy a great breakfast at the Texas Inn. They also serve lunch and dinner.

Ft. Davis is the highest town in Texas at 5,050 feet. As a result, the summers here are relatively cool by Texas standards. Before the days of A/C, wealthy Texas ranchers, aka Summer Swallows would stay at the historic Hotel Limpia built in 1912. Despite a population of only 1,000 permanent residents, Ft. Davis has a surprising number of restaurants and hotels as well as a decent grocery store.

 

Built in 1912 and upgraded since to include modern conveniences, the Hotel Limpia still retains its historic charm.

Built in 1912 and upgraded since to include modern conveniences, the Hotel Limpia retains its historic charm.

After breakfast, we walk T&E down the main thoroughfare towards the courthouse square. Cindy ducks into the Jeff Davis County Library for a quick peek. The building that houses the library started out as a general store in 1873. Even with bookshelves lined up throughout the library, the interior still has the look and feel it must have had in its early days.

 

Jeff Davis County Library is across the street from the Courthouse Square.

Jeff Davis County Library is across the street from the Courthouse Square.

Jeff Davis County Courthouse on the square in Ft. Davis.

Jeff Davis County Courthouse on the square in Ft. Davis.

Storefronts along Texas Hwy 17 passing through Ft. Davis. There’s no traffic lights and most of the side streets remain unpaved.

Storefronts along Texas Hwy 17 passing through Ft. Davis. There’s no traffic lights and most of the side streets remain unpaved.

After we snap a few more pictures of town, we jump back in the truck and head the mile or so towards the Fort Davis National Historic Site. Established in 1854, Fort Davis is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars’ frontier military post. It lies on the mail coach road between San Antonio, 400 miles to the east, and El Paso, 200 miles to the west. For the next 2 hours we explore the many restored homes, hospital, barracks and other structures that make up this historic fort.

Restored hospital at Fort Davis National Historic Site. Our campsite at Davis Mountains State Park is just behind the cliffs in the background.

Restored hospital at Fort Davis National Historic Site. Our campsite at Davis Mountains State Park is just behind the cliffs in the background.

A few of the many officers’ quarters on the fort grounds. One has been fully restored with many of the original furnishings.

A few of the many officers’ quarters on the fort grounds. One has been fully restored with many of the original furnishings.

 

Cindy walks T&E eastward past one of the unrestored Ft. Davis buildings on the old mail coach road. Only 400 miles to go to reach San Antonio.

Cindy walks T&E eastward past one of the unrestored Ft. Davis buildings on the old mail coach road. Only 400 miles to go to reach San Antonio.

Davis Mountains State Park – Sunday, February 8

Davis Mountains State Park is one of our favorite campgrounds of all time. It’s just a few miles outside of Fort Davis on the scenic road to the McDonald Observatory. It was established in the 1930’s and includes the Indian Lodge Hotel and Black Bear Restaurant both built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in an adobe style. The campground offers sites with full 3-way hookups but in order to save a few bucks, we chose a 30 amp site with water.

 

Our campsite is close to the dry creek bed that runs through the center of the park.

Our campsite is close to the dry creek bed that runs through the center of the park.

There are numerous trails in the park that lead to the mountain tops surrounding the campground. If you’re too lazy to hike, you can drive the Skyline Road to the top of the mountain that overlooks the town of Fort Davis. To work off some of yesterday’s breakfast at the Texas Inn, I decide to hike the Indian Lodge Trail this morning.

 

All the trails within the park are well marked showing the total distance and elevation changes.

All the trails within the park are well marked showing the total distance and elevation changes.

The trail begins at the Indian Lodge Hotel and intersects with the Montezuma Quail Trail making the total distance about 2.7 miles. It’s rocky and starts off at a steep incline forcing me to keep my eyes on each step. After a half mile or so, the trail levels out and runs along the mountain ridge where I can see the telescope silos at the McDonald Observatory about 10 miles to the northwest. After mile or so, I begin the steep descent back to the campground. The hike seems quick to me but Cindy tells me I’ve been gone for a couple hours.

 

Indian Lodge Trail leads me to the top of the cliff as shown here.

Indian Lodge Trail leads me to the top of the cliff as shown here.

Texas State Parks provide free WiFi but the speed is less than desirable so after lunch and a short nap, Cindy and I drive up the Skyline trail to pick up a strong VZ 4G signal from Fort Davis. It’s windy this afternoon and there’s white fluffy clouds everywhere making for a good time-lapse video opportunity. The video shows the campground in the valley and the Indian Lodge Hotel in the distance.

Nightly Bird Show

After our Internet fix, we return to camp for the evening bird show. Cindy makes dinner while I sit outside and photograph the birds that come to visit.

This common female House Finch exists everywhere but makes a good photo nonetheless.

This common female House Finch exists everywhere but makes a good photo nonetheless.

 

The colors seems to glow on this male House Finch. You probably have these all around wherever you live.

The colors seems to glow on this male House Finch. You probably have these all around wherever you live.

Western Scrub Jays are common out west but this is the first one I’ve ever seen.

Western Scrub Jays are common out west but this is the first one I’ve ever seen.

 This Black Crested Titmouse only resides in Texas and Mexico. It’s very similar to the Tufted Titmouse seen throughout the midwest and eastern United States.

This Black Crested Titmouse only resides in Texas and Mexico. It’s very similar to the Tufted Titmouse seen throughout the midwest and eastern United States.

The Canyon Towhee is the “Critter of the Month” at Davis Mountains State Park. It resides throughout west Texas, southern Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico.

The Canyon Towhee is the “Critter of the Month” at Davis Mountains State Park. It resides throughout west Texas, southern Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico.

Another Javelina Invasion

Davis Mountains State Park was pretty full over the weekend but it’s pretty much emptied out this Sunday evening. The camper to our right left earlier today leaving a bunch of dry dog food scattered on the ground. This is a big no-no and who knows what will show up later tonight.

Later that night…

Once again, Cindy, Trixie, Eddie and I are sitting on the couch watching TV when all of a sudden Trixie jerks her head up and sniffs the air. Cindy also smells the unmistakably musky odor of Javelinas. Now both T&E are going berserk so we leash them up and open the door. Three steps from our door is the biggest Javelina I’ve ever seen. Cindy says, “It’s Big Daddy!”. She and a camping neighbor saw him yesterday while I was out exploring elsewhere. We manage to put T&E back in the Airstream and grab the camera and flashlight. Big Daddy wanders over to the dog food stash where a group of 6 or so Javelinas were chowing down.

Big Daddy caught in the act.

Big Daddy caught in the act.

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