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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Looking for the Marfa Lights

The Marfa area is known for unidentified lights that appear on the southern horizon after dark..  This phenomenon does not occur every night.  We are at the View Park to see the lights, I hope.

The sky takes on a rosy
hue as the sun starts
to set.

The sun is behind the

Venus appears in
the sky.

The western sky

Venus is the stand-out
in tonight's sky.

So, where are the Marfa lights?  I strain my eyes focusing on the southern horizon.  This is a challenge.  Cars pull in after dark and the headlights disrupt my night vision.  Cars and trucks driving by behind us also play havoc with my night vision.  Most of the cars and trucks that stopped to view the lights have left.  I continue to scan the southern horizon... Is that a light?  I don't know... a vehicle passed by on the highway behind me. It's a beautiful night.  I see the Milky Way and many hundred stars in the night sky.  After two hours of after dark viewing, Eric and I return to the motorhome. Maybe tonight is not the night to see the lights.

Marfa Lights Viewing Center in Marfa, Texas

The Marfa Lights Viewing Center
is 9 miles west of the city
on Route 90.

Since the 1880s, people have reported mysterious lights dance on the horizon in the southern sky southeast of Marfa.  The lights have been seen randomly throughout the year.  Eric and I hope to see them tonight.

It has a spacious deck where
visitors view the lights.

This plaque commemorates
the people who worked to
create this Viewing Center.

Eric admires a 
Soaptree Yucca.

There's at least six plaques here.  One details Marfa's history.  Marfa was founded in 1883 as a watering stop for the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway.  The Marfa area was very busy in the 1940s.   The US Government constructed an air field to train Army Air Corps pilots, stationed Chemical Warfare Brigades in the area and built a German Prisoner of War Camp.  Marfa's Hotel Paisano was used as a movie set in the James Dean movie, Giant.

Nobody crosses
the fence line.

Eric plucks a seed pod from
the spike of a smaller
Soaptree Yucca.

Showing his prize.

The pod goes in his
pocket for closer
examination later.

It's time to eat dinner and wait for the sun to set.  I hope we see the Marfa Lights!

West to Marfa, Texas

We are driving west three
hours to Marfa, Texas.

We are spending the night at the
 Marfa Lights Viewing Area
where we hope to see the
mysterious Marfa Lights.

Two cyclists stop to
check their map.

Eric & I agree that this
vertical face is man made.

This "hill" looks like
a pyramid.

Cattle graze in the
brown grass.

The landscape becomes

Eric holds up his
first tumble weed.

Alpine is the largest city
in this section of Texas.

Population: 5,972

Sul Ross State University

The University Campus

I liked this sign.

On the outskirts of town
I found a "Porta Potty Garden."

Rock columns add
character to this "hill."

Mountains "float"
in the distance.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Eric Knows How to Show a Girl a Good Time...

Eric takes me onto the
gravely road that
parallels the highway.

We start down....

to get a close up look at
the bridge over the
Amistad Reservoir.

Eric drives up
another rise.

And has to turn around...
the gravel road doesn't
continue down the
other side.

We get a different view of
the blown over gas

We drive west toward 

The sun sits behind
a veil of clouds.

US Customs and Border Control in the Del Rio - Langtry Section of Texas

We are within minutes of the
Mexican Border.

This US Customs & Border
Control Station is on Route 90.


We went through a Border
Control Station when we
returned from the

We see Border Control
vehicles along side 
the highway.

Because we are unfamiliar with this type of situation, we ask questions at the Visitors Centers and Seminole Canyon State Historical Park.  

We were told that before September 11, 2001, there were 50 Border Patrol Agents in this section of Texas. Now there are 250 agents working in this area.  I think of the influx of cash into the area economy that comes with this 4 fold increase in Border Control Agents and their families.

A staff member at a Visitors
Center told us that Border
Control trucks drag tires along
the gravel roads that parallel
the highway.

The tires stir up the dirt,
obliterating vehicle &
human tracks.

On the next pass the driver
will look for footprints
across the gravel road.

David, a ranger at Seminole Canyon State Historical Park, told us that this time of year men are moving south to the border to spend the holidays with their families in Mexico.

Whether heading north or south, people who are stopped without proper documentation have their names entered in the Border Control Database and are 
unable to obtain a visa to enter the US in the future.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Malinda Restaurant at the Ramada Inn in Del Rio, Texas

We park at the Ramada Inn
in Del Rio, Texas.

Pass the main desk.

The hotel proudly
displays its awards.

We have reservations at
the Malinda Restaurant for
the Thanksgiving Buffet.

We are a little early and go
 for a pre-dinner drink.

Our table is ready...

The buffet is busy.

Fresh food comes out
of the kitchen often.

I chose fresh celery, a deviled
egg, a tiny bit of pasta salad,
potatoes, stuffing, cranberry 
sauce, pork loin stuffed with
 raisins, seafood salad, turkey
& roast beef.

Eric's choices included yams,
roast beef, pork loin stuffed
 with raisins, turkey, potatoes
& stuffing, covered with gravy.

Our 1.5 liter bottle of
Livingston Merlot.

Yes, we brought some home.

Our server, Salvador, gave
me a flower.

I feel special!

I chose a fudgy brownie
for my dessert.

Eric chose chocolate cake
& Tapioca Pudding
for dessert.

As we got up to leave, Eric mentioned to Salvador that he didn't see pumpkin pie on the dessert table.  (I thought that maybe pumpkin pie isn't served in this part of the country.)  Salvador went into the kitchen and produced two slices of pumpkin pie, boxed and ready to take with us.

Eric and I enjoy each other's company, and yet our first Thanksgiving away from our family made us a little sad.  Being in a busy restaurant with Salvador, who was very attentive, helped fill the void Eric and I felt.