John and Diana are traveling around the country with a 37-foot RV and an 18-year-old cat. This is their story.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Balmorhea , Texas
Our home is now in Fort Stockton; we have arrived in Big Bend Country. The town's landmark is affectionately call Paisano Pete, he is all of 860 pounds, and said to be the world's largest roadrunner. In San Angelo we toured Fort Concho, a military post established in 1867. Fort Stockton is another similar cavalry post, started up in 1858 to protect the early settlers and struggling ranchers from Indian attacks. Yesterday, while driving to Balmorhea, I could not help but look over the rugged countryside and think about the soldiers patrolling the hills under an unforgiving hot sun. And they certainly did not have the roads we have today.
Balmorhea State Park is the location of San Solomon Springs. The springs, which puts out 28 million gallons of water daily, was once used by the Apache Indians to water their corn and peaches. In 1871 large scale commercial irrigation was begun by the early settlers for their crops. A state park and swimming pool was built in the 1950s, which led to a destruction of a lot of the desert wetland surrounding the area. When it was discovered that two different species of fish had become extinct because of that decision, an effort was made in 1995 to restore the wetland. It was a warm day yesterday and we were told that the springs stays at an even 70 degrees year around, so I decided to try swimming in the pool which has the springs flowing into it. With a 77,000 square foot surface, it is one of the largest man-made pools in the world.
I was so totally thinking that I was swimming in a regular swimming pool, you can well imagine my surprise when discovered that I was swimming with fish and ducks! And the bottom of the pool was extremely slimy with algae in the shallow sections. Notice, in the picture below, scuba divers in the pool swimming with some ducks. The deepest part of the pool is 25 feet deep and perfect for scuba diving classes.
I did not take too long with my swimming and sunbathing, so after that we still had a good part of the day to drive into the mountains, toward Fort Davis, where John was able to pursue his interest. He had been hoping to tour the McDonald Observatory. It was a wonderful mountain drive, more on that and the observatory, in my next posting.