Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dark Skies of the Davis Mountains.

US Highway 90 through no country for old men.
____ Day 25. US Highway 90 most of the way; through near ghost-towns such as Dryden and Sanderson. Fuel is pricey if available at all. Langtry does boast a Travel Information Centre; part of the Judge Roy Bean Courthouse and Bar compound but nothing else. Alpine has more and we stock-up as we leave the 90 and head into the Davis Mountains. The State Park will be our home for two dark nights as we climb into what is reckoned to be the best star gazing in the USA. A blanket of darkness does descend but going out of the Mack reveals we are not alone. A whole herd of Javelinas are foraging all around the truck; the small wild pigs seemed less alarmed than we were.

____ Day 26. A day on the bicycles as we set-off early to climb the Highway 118 to the McDonald Observatory, perched on the highest peak. For over 70 years, this has been a world leader in deep-space exploration; the climb to the top on two wheels is exploring if I still have the stamina for such things. Part of the University of Texas, the observatory is a welcoming place for the public with tours and star parties after dark. For me, the best part was the 12 mile run back down to the campsite. Davis Mountains State Park is from the same era as the observatory; built by CCC, the Civil Conservation Corps, part of an employment initiative from the Great Depression of the 1930's. We have sheltered spot with power and water; the nearby showers are the best so far with great pressure washing after an strenuous day.

Judge Roy Bean had a thing about Lillie Langtry.

Bulldog's view of US Highway 90, East to West in the Pecos.

Davis Mountains State Park where the solar panels topped-up the house-batteries despite the trees.

Two white dots on the mountain-top are telescopes of the McDonald Observatory.

The McDonald Observatory has an excellent Visitor Centre with cafe. I was tempted to ask for a Big Mac and fries.

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