Posts tagged ‘Texas’
The Davis Mountains Texas
Texican High Country Desert, Grasslands and Sky Islands
Great base camp from which to access the area: the community of Fort Davis, Fort Davis NHS, the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop, Indian Lodge, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Gardens, and the McDonald Observatory.
Seems to get busy on the weekends but not so much during the week. Interpretive Center, a couple of feeding stations and viewing blinds, Skyline Drive up high, the expectation of Montezuma Quail, sunrise and sunset, lots of atmospherics and a ‘Mexican Pig’ (Javelina) or two.
The Chihuahuan Desert in bloom from the Rio Grande to the High Country Desert and Sky Islands of the Chisos and Davis Mountains. The mountain ranges are very discreet from one another here in the desert.
The most perfect blooms were to be found in the greenhouse/hothouse of the Chihuahuan Nature Center & Botanical Gardens.
… and the Jeff Davis County Court House on a grey and threatening afternoon in the high country town of Fort Davis.
The grounds surrounded at the street by wrought iron fencing with four entrances.
Original 1910 turnstiles at the street level entrances to the walkways.
One turnstile removed in order to be handicapped accessible.
The Chihuahuan Desert, a rugged place of snakes, cacti, ragged geology, heat, & thirst. Some years it has looked burnt over. Those were drought years.
This year at this time the predominantly brown-orange-yellow-red paletted desert has a lot of green and multi-hued blooms, small and big.
Apparently it is all about timing (and water).
North America has four deserts: Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran and the Chihuahuan, which extends deep into Mexico. Big Bend National Park lies in its northern third. Mountains that block rain border the Chihuahuan Desert on three sides. Its other side abuts vast semi-arid plains. This young desert is about 8,000 years old. Green and fairly lush, its rainfall comes mostly in the July to October monsoon. Its rain and clouds can mean far cooler temperatures than one might expect in a desert. Heat and seasonal winds increase aridity. Summer ground temperatures may be 180 degrees F at mid-day – or freezing in winter as northern storms sweep through.
An Jacal ( \hə-ˈkäl\ ) a hut in Mexico and southwestern United States with a thatched roof and walls made of upright poles or sticks covered and chinked with mud or clay.
Out on the Old Maverick Road.
Big Bend has lots of high-clearance back roads, ranch roads. Great way to access the history and culture of the Chihuahuan Desert.Sunrise light on the Chisos Mountains through the hoodoos out in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Big Bend NP Brochure, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Riparian ecosystems : green fingers of dense vegetation stand out against the sparse greenish brown-yellow-red-orange vegetation of the desert.
The Rio Grande is no longer that. Some but very little moving water graces it channel. The Mexicans who lay claim to its tributary waters upstream recognize it not as the Rio Grande but as the Rio Bravo.
Big Bend refers to the great southwest Texas U-turn the Rio Grande makes here – defining the Park boundary, the State of Texas, and the Mexican-US boundary for 118 miles. The river is an arcing linear oasis, a ribbon of green that cuts across the dry desert and carves deep canyons. Like all rivers surviving desert passages, it has its headwaters outside this desert, in Colorado. Irrigation, dams, agriculture, manufacturing, exotic plants and evaporation sap most of the Rio Grande’s water before it gets to the Park. In the Park the river’s water mostly comes from Mexico’s Rio Conchos.
The river creates an oasis for species not adapted to arid desert life, adding to the Park’s biological diversity. Its thin flood plain looks like a green belt in the desert. River sand and gravel bars and cliff banks host creatures not expected in the Chihuahian Desert. Sunset captures looking west over the Rio Grande from outside Boquillas Canyon towards the Chisos Mountain Range.
Big Bend NP Brochure, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Big Bend National Park
A vast and rugged place: Chihuahuan Desert. Rio Grande River Valley, and the Chisos Mountains.
Also the ubiquitous US Customs and Border Patrol: Coming out of the park on State HWY 385 at the Border Patrol stop outside of Marathon, TX we met a young Border Patrol guy who recognized the license plate and shared that he was from New Hampshire as well: Dover, NH. Exchanged smiles and had a nice chat amid all the necessary questions. An ice hockey player on the fringes of the Chihuahuan Desert courtesy of the US Border Patrol. Finally a sense of humor and a touch of genuineness.
Like all of Texas be prepared to drive distances but the destinations are worth the effort.
Line you bicycle wheels with old inner tubes with the nozzle cut out and the tube split down the middle. Tires and tubes are no match for the spikes and prickers found everywhere in the desert.
For the RVers following this photoblog: Cottonwoods Campround down the Castolon Road near the Rio Grande has no hook-ups and does not allow generators, the Chisos Basin Campground in the Chisos Mountains has no hook-ups as well and limits the RV size to 24′ and generator hours to an AM and PM window in only one row of the campground, Rio Grande Village which I saw the least of does have a limited number of hook-up sites and no size limitations.
… and Again!!
Alpine Fightin’ Bucks Baseball
After touring his latest CD : Still Fighting the War this time last year, Slaid Cleaves found his way back to the Fischer Haus Cantina in Fischer, Texas in the Hill Country somehwere between Wimberely and Blanco.
His musical chops earned and dues well paid : Not SXSW and not Not SXSW as well.
Accompanied by Chojo Jacques of Dripping Springs on fiddle and mandolin. A tip of the hat to both musicians: balance and interplay, mutual respect for one another’s talents and skills. Slaid has honed his craft well.
Great musicianship, stagecraft, songs and story telling. Slaid and Chojo owned the Fischer audience:
The Fischer Haus Cantina is a laid back open air venue, wonderful for the type of music presented here.
Apparently the ‘oli patch’ in West Texas is booming : Odessa-Midland to Monahans to Pecos.
No housing available. People living and working out of RVs cars and pick up trucks and tents.
Monahans is a gritty oil-field town that the highway betrayed by becoming I-20 and moving to the other side of town.
Like most small towns the nicest properties are the high school and the established churches.
A bit of quirkiness east of town on Business 20: The Million Barrel Museum.
The remains of Shell Oil’s mid-1920’s attempt to build an oil holding reservoir prior to the arrival of the pipeline to this region forms the centerpiece of the Million Barrel Museum. Oil in this vast quantity weighed more than the seamed sections of concrete covering the 52o’ by 420′ roughly circular 35′ deep reservoir could hold. Over time the oil leached away as well as evaporated even though the reservoir was covered over with a redwood dome supported by creosoted timbers. Designed to hold 5 million barrels the reservoir was only filled to the 1 million barrel point before the leakage issue was discovered. At a later 1950s date a local Monahan’s entrepreneur attempted to bring water sports to the west Texas desert in the form of a million barrel lake. The water sports recreation area opened and closed the same date, professional water skiers notwithstanding. Water being twice as heavy as crude oil (imagine that) the reservoir held water even less efficiently than it did crude oil. After drilling six wells to fill it with water the reservoir would not hold water.
We were encoraged to ride our bikes inside the Million Barrel Reservoir. The graffiti is encouraged: students in the graduating class of Monahan’s High School are allowed to write their names on the walls.
Five miles further east of town off I-20 and the frontage road is more west Texas uniqueness : Monahans Sand Hills State Park.
Some stabilized but many dynamic sand dunes abide. The stabilized hills are the product of shin oak and other desert plants. The dynamic hills are a product of the wind. During the week the park seems to be nothing more than an I-20 RV overnight camping spot. The weekend sees some day use in the form of kids and families sand surfing the dunes and hills.
One of my favorite singer-songwriters was born and spent his early years in Monahans. I spent part of this President’s weekend trying to track down Guy Clark‘s birth home, the home he grew up in, the Green Frog Cafe as well as his one-legged grandmother’s hotel/boarding house. Due to it’s being a weekend and a holiday weekend to boot the Monhans Libray was closed as was the County Archives. No one seemed to know, at least no one that I talked with. The front desk lady at Fermin’s Restaurant who did not know me from a hole in the wall spent a bunch of time with me trying to figure out who on a mid-Saturday afternoon might provide me some answers. Thank you for your time. You made me feel welcomed!
No one (that I spoke with) in Monahans, Texas knew of Guy Clark.
For as often as Monahans is referenced in his songs, either specifically or contextually, or in his concerts the Town of Monahans is missing the boat by not honoring and acknowledging this, what should be, a ‘favorite son’.
Bars and cafes may come and go in Terlingua but it seems like fiddle circles and open mic nights stay the course.
Mark Lewis’ ably organized and directed fiddle circle currently resides Tuesday nights 6 to 8 PM (maybe 9 PM if folks have some staying power) at the Boat House Bar in the Ghost Town section of Terlingua, Texas.
When not in Nome tending the rooming house, George ably tends the bar at the Boast House. George: Thank you for making me feel welcome.
Lots of fiddlers this year, some new faces and some that we remembered from the last time through.
It was nice to have our efforts remembered and welcomed.
Give and take, question and answer, show and tell, teachin’ and learnin’ going on: even an up out of one’s seat ‘Eureka’ moment.
And again the thread of photographers as musicians, musicians as photographers. It is good to stretch oneself.
Some things don’t change they just move across the street.
Do all drinking establishments in Terlingua house one or more motorcycles among their patrons?
Good energy, fellowship and community here.
Corpus Cristi to Austin, a full days drive for us anymore, had us up early, stopping to get breakfast along the way and arriving to an unscheduled unreserved camping spot at McKinney Falls State Park in Austin. This is one of our favorite State Parks probably due to its proximity to live music.
Sometime recently the heavens opened up on this area and ended the drought with an exclamation mark: 4 inches of rain! Everything is green.
The drive left us tired and beat but we persevered and got ourselves into town to the Austin Friends of Traditional Music Mid-Winter Festival. Got there a touch late and left early but the acts that we saw and heard were great: klezmer fiddle to Chinese zither music, old time music bands to tight bluegrass duos, West African drummers to 16 and 17 year old Texas state mandolin and banjo champs, and a hurdy-gurdy man to boot.
Blue Buckskin Winchers
Sometimes you just have to embrace the mic stands and mics as part of the composition!
Yuan Li Chang
This acoustic duo playing and singing off that single mic hit a home run with me. Very tight. Excellent presentation and musical repertoire.
There are gun-slingers and then there are banjo-slingers!
Hurdy Gurdy Man
Judging from the presence and participation of her students this fiddler (FiddLisa ~ Lisa Schneider) must be one hell of a teacher!
Youthful Bluegrass A Capella
Good stuff, all of it!
Kudos to AFTM!
Austin, Texas: The Live Music Capital of the World
Second Thursday of the month, Open Mic Bluegrass Night with Eddie Collins managing the flow and The New World Deli graciously providing the space. We went expecting college kids and young people shopping their bluegrass chops but instead found a bunch of second-lifers similar to ourselves ‘a pickin’ and a grinnin”. The three man bluegrass string band Flatiron shared the stage with Eddie Collins and any number of folks with stringed instruments willing to jump in for a song or two. The range was from ‘one and done’ to a number of folks with very polished presentations.
Capturing images was another case of ‘the tyranny of mic stand and cords’ combined with low light and a small stage space. We did our best.
The ‘crop tool’ earns high marks here.
Duane Calvin & Alice Moore of ‘The Better Late Than Never’
Wide bluegrass envelope here : bluegrass flute!
Amazing number of banjo pickers in the crowd: Why is that?
‘Tie-Dye’ Jay Blincoe!
Her own words: ‘high maintenance ‘ and ‘naked without the guitar’!?!
We tried to do a fair and balanced job of capturing and presenting all the talent.
My apologies to the one bass player I know I missed.
Could have done better with folks names but maybe folks will supply me with names through their comments.
Great place: serving a good and hearty reuben sandwhich.
Good talent and friendly people – a super supportive atmosphere!
Nicely done Mr. Eddie Collins!
I would come back next month were I in town.
A day of driving and short hikes into Big Bend National Park on the Castolon Road resulted in our first roadrunner sighting and much marvelous mountain and desert scenery. The visual scale here is so very different from the east coast mountains. The mountains here are younger relatively and the geology feels like it is still happening: Hearing rocks fall off the face of a butte and clatter down the detritus pile. Our first time in the southwest desert and would like to return when there has been some moisture in the system. Very brown, very dry: the rare pocket of oasis green where a spring or water source supports life.
The end of the day found us in Terlingus’s Ghost Town Cafe and Saloon listening to an old time music circle: very friendly people, very inclusive, all ages all stripes.
A spaghetti and fresh green salad dinner was served up for all: very nice!
Lots of musicians in Terlingua: pupil and teacher, protege and master, aficionados and hangers-on, fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin players.
The locals gracing the Ghost Town Cafe and Bar with their music were Mark Lewis, organizer of the Monday night gatherings, Jeff Brady, Sunny, Taylor, and Tim Callahan, with Austin from Florida wishing he had his fiddle along.
Taylor, the 12 year-old held his own, with the ol’ boys calling out the next tune whenever asked.
Jeff Brady played a classic 1926 vintage banjo ( wish I had written down the name).
He also brandished a custom built cherry red amplified acoustic guitar.
This man, and rightly so, was proud of his musical instruments!
There was a story with each.