We found a wonderful State Park just outside the town of Balmorhea. It was advertised as an Oasis in the Desert and was famous for its spring water that stayed at a temperature of 72 degrees year round. The State Park had a wonderful pool built, that was filled with the spring water. They also had fish, ducks and turtles swimming in the water. We stopped for the day, packing a picnic lunch, and enjoyed the great spring fed water.
After a day of picnicing and swimming we discovered the hot showers in the change room. That was almost better than the spring water. Ward and I both took an extra long time in the showers. After bird baths for the past few months the shower was an amazing treat that we both enjoyed very much.
The next day we took a motorcycle ride down to Fort Davis which included a scenic loop around the town and past the McDonald Observatory. We were told about the roads by a few people we had encountered along the way, and the roads did not disappoint us. They took us through the mountains and along some very twisty roads.
The trip took several hours, and neither Ward nor I were used to being on the Sportster for that long of a time, and we were both suffering a bit near the end. We stopped periodically at picnic areas along the way, giving our bodies a rest and replenishing fluids lost from the heat. We also stopped in at the McDonald Observatory along the route.
We were too late for any of the daily tours and too early for a nightly star show, but we were able to go up to one of the Observatories and have a look at the telescope.
Then we were off again, twisting our way down the road and through the mountains. At our last rest stop another motorcycle pulled in. The fellow came over and introduced himself. It turned out he was from Pecos, the same town we were staying in. He gave us his phone number and said to call him if we needed anything. Everyone in Texas is just so friendly. The trip ended up being about 200 miles round trip for the day, but worth the pain to ride those twisty roads.
While in the town of Pecos we drove over to the museum and found a replica of Judge Roy Bean's establishment. He was the law west of the Pecos River.
After leaving Pecos we headed to the town of Pyote and down another Farm to Market road to check out some more cheap land. This time it was 5 acres of desert scrub for $2200. Taxes would be $50 per year, but they had not been paid since '09. We found the land that was advertised. There was access from the farm road onto the section, but no roads on the section itself.
This adventure took us to another county courthouse, and led to another conversation with county clerks. We were shown the plat map for the piece of land advertised. It seemed fairly legitimate. I asked if there were any restrictions on the land and was told there were none. We could basically do whatever we wanted there and would not be bothered. I asked if I could get a deed for the 5 acre lot. The clerk said the lots would have to be at least 5.5 acres. That meant 2 lots would have to be purchased, not just one. I asked about the taxes owing on the land. I was directed to the offices across the hall. At the tax assessment office I found the taxes were fully paid. I also found they were only $28 per year, and the land was also only worth $300 an acre. Interesting. After getting all the information I could from the courthouse I sent an email to the person selling the land. I asked about actual road access to the lot, which was 1/2 mile from the road. I also asked if he would consider a lower price, considering the value of the land (according to the tax assessment). My emails sent have so far been unanswered. Either the person does not want to sell the land anymore, or he simply prefers to sell to those who don't know what they are buying. No worries though, we are enjoying the treks down country roads and conversations at county courthouses. This is all adding to the experiences we are having as we travel through Texas.
A few miles down the road we found another state park. This time it was Monahans Sandhills State Park. You could surf the dunes on rented metal discs. Unfortunately, the park headquarters were just closing when we arrived and one could not rent one of the metal discs so late in the day. I should have brought my own sliding device to surf the dunes. I tried to just slide down the dune on my butt. That didn't work. I didn't really move. If I tried pushing myself down the sand dune I would go more into it than down it. But I tried.
After playing on the dunes for a while we found the building with the showers. Oh ya!! Another long hot shower. I just love these State Parks. I'm glad I bought the season pass back at Palo Duro Canyon. It's come in quite handy.
There are many State Parks to discover in Texas. I am sure we can steer our way toward several of more them.
More interesting photos found along the way:
ruins inside old school house at Kent, Texas
Fort Davis State Park Ruins
Dry Riverbed at one of the rest stops along Ft Davis loop
Shadows on the dunes at Monahans Sandhills State Park