Saturday, January 31, 2015
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
It rained all night, I like it when it rains and I am in the RV. Pitter patter on the roof and all that. Makes for good sleeping. It also helps drown out the semis on the freeway and the trains whizzing by. When we woke up, it was cold and blowing. We had planned on heading up into the mountains to see Guadalupe Mountains National Park but we were sort of debating whether or not to go.
I have to go. In my quest to get to all 401 National Parks, Memorials, Historic Sites, etc. I can't let one pass by. Lou calls me obsessive/compulsive. I call me focused and thorough. Maybe a completist. The park is only an hour drive away, I'm driving. We're going.
The drive is interesting. There is a gradual incline, so gradual that you can hardly tell you are gaining altitude. You know that you are climbing when you realize that you are not driving through fog but through clouds. Seriously, the clouds were so think you could only see maybe 100 feet in front of you. It was a little eerie.
When we got to the park, there were only a few cars at the visitor center. Guess what, there were several there from Minnesota. Minnesotans are everywhere.
When we went into the visitor center there was a family with a small boy looking at the exhibits which were mostly stuff animals, birds and lizards from the area. When they finished looking at the exhibits, the family went up to the ranger. The ranger very solemnly told the little boy (he was four years old) to raise his right hand and repeat after him. It was several paragraphs long but the gist of it was that the little boy swore that he would do all that he could to protect our national parks and be a conservator of nature. At the end, the ranger shook the little boy's hand and congratulated him on becoming a junior ranger. He gave the little boy a couple of badges to commemorate the occasion. You should have seen this little boy's face. He was so thrilled and proud of himself.
I asked the ranger why the Guadalupe Mountains were a National Park. He said it was because the mountains were among the best examples of an ancient marine fossil reef from back when this area was covered by a huge tropical ocean. I asked if we could see these fossils but evidently they are way back in the mountains and not accessible to the general public.
We did a short mile nature walk outside of the visitor center, it was just too cold to do much more. The trail was marked with a lot of signs identifying different types of vegetation which was helpful because I had been wondering what some of it was as I drove through Texas. Beyond tumbleweeds, I'm pretty clueless about Texas flora and fauna.
At the end of the trail, there were some ruins of a mid 1800s Butterfield Stage Coach stop. The Butterfield stagecoaches were the first transcontinental mail route predating the Pony Express.
Coming down the mountain, we saw parts of El Capitan, which people would use to navigate their way west. I say parts of El Capitan because it was in the clouds. They also say that Guadalupe Peak, the highest mountain in Texas was right there. Couldn't tell because of the clouds.
Rain for the rest of the day and wine and cheese for the evening.