April 1997

   We arrived home from our Texas Dead Tour Monday evening and rested up all day yesterday. We managed to cover about 1900 miles. We started out by leaving the Spring/Kline area (hometown of Lyle Lovett) and passed through Katy, Texas (hometown of Clint Black). We left there and drove on through San Antonio (Saint Anthony to you English speaking folks and home of the real Alamo), north of Pleasanton (birthplace of Marshall), through the big city of Hondo, through Uvalde (hometown of Dale Evans), through Brackenridge (home of the Alamo movie set) and on to Del Rio.

    This was the first dead stop. We spent the night here since it was already midnight and nothing was open for us to see. The next morning we had a breakfast of eggs and fried dead pig pieces. Del Rio is on the Rio Grande River and is pretty much dead. Both the river and the town. Lake Amistad (the dammed Rio Grande), formerly a bass fishing hot spot, was down only 37 feet below normal. It has come up 14 feet since last August. Looked pretty low and dead to me. If they don't get some rain everything around here that is not dead, is going to be dead. We did hike DOWN to the water though. It was real.

    Next we stopped at Seminole Canyon, things have been pretty dead here for a long time. We checked out the cave paintings which date to 2000-6000 years ago. Things have been dead here ever since; except for when the Apaches used to raise hell across the area. Seems like the peyote buttons used to make them hard to get along with. This is where the Pecos River runs into the Rio Grande River. It was the first time I had ever seen the bottom of Pecos River. It was just a trickle in the bottom of the canyon.

    Down the road to Langtry, Texas we went. The home of the infamous (and dead) Judge Roy Bean. We got there just in time for the construction/destruction of the museum. Oh well, we'd been there before. Instead of touring the museum, we bought some really bad bar-b-que for lunch. I'm not sure how long it had been dead but I'm sure it must have been quite a while.

    We rolled on down the road through Sanderson, Texas (home of a 1960's flash flood that left many dead). An eight foot wall of water rolled through downtown one night. Sanderson is located in a canyon that runs for about a hundred miles. Lots of time to build up a good head of steam. We got gas and rolled on west.

    We rolled on through Marathon, home of the famous Gage Hotel. Famous for what I forget. I imagine it's famous because it's still there. There is nothing living within miles of Marathon. Everything seems pretty dead.

    Next stop, Alpine. It is in the Davis Mountains. Sul Ross University, or "Rodeo U.", is the biggest thing in town. We got a room here. Next stop is Texas' highest city, Fort Davis, where we kill the afternoon. "The Republic of Texas" militia is hiding out somewhere in the immediate area. They are also looking to kill something. I did my dangest to locate them but didn't have any success. I was all prepared to join the revolution and create more dead people. Instead we went over to Fort Davis and saw where lots of dead people once lived. Fort Davis was the home of the Buffalo Soldiers. They are all dead now but the old fort is well preserved.

    That night we went out and sat in the desert between Alpine and Marfa and watched the "Marfa Lights" or the "Ghost Lights" as they are often known. These mysterious lights were first reported by white men in about 1850. I'm sure the Indians knew of them long before then but there is no record of them reporting them to anyone. At least not anyone that was writing it down. Of course these guys are all dead now too. The lights show up nearly nightly and are rather interesting to watch. We were bothered by the continual coming and goings of tour buses from Marfa. I did not know they had enough rooms in Marfa to hold that many people. After a couple of hours in the desert watching the lights put on their show we called it a day. One heck of a long one at that.

    The next day we drove over to Marfa, rolled on through rather quickly since I've never seen a reason to stop, and headed south for Presidio. This is on the Mexican border and I've never seen a reason to stop here either, other than to get gas. Instead we turned back east and took the drive down the Rio Grande River. It had rained the night before and the river was actually running. The desert was actually running across the road in places. We stopped at Fort Leaton, on the Rio Grande and saw where more dead people once lived.

    We rolled on down the road and began to see our first signs of life. The desert was blooming! There were wild flowers everywhere and all of the cactus were blooming. I've never seen so many flowers in one place at one time. For the next three days we saw nothing but flowers covering the desert. My timing had been nearly perfect. The only thing we missed was the blooming of the yucca. They were mostly done, but everything else was in full bloom. We continued down the river road which is one beautiful and up and down drive over the desert mountains. The Rio Grande runs through many canyons along the way.

    We stopped in Lajitas (La he' tus) for T-shirts and continued on our way to the busted city of Terlinguas (Tare lean gwas). This is a ghost town just outside of Big Bend National Park. They used to mine cinnabar (mercury ore) here years ago. All of the miners are long dead. There were some minors around though. There are numerous adobe buildings still partially standing. Some of them have been restored to a degree by latter day hippies and are being lived in by them. These guys smelled dead. We stayed just down the road in the big city of Study (stoody) Butte. Home of $1.48/gallon dead dinosaur juice. In other words, expensive gasoline. I had the foresight to fill up in Presidio. This weren't my first trip down here. 

    We checked into our room and then continued on out into the desert. We drove down dirt roads to Santa Elena Canyon. The desert was still blooming. We had to get out and wonder around for awhile. When we got to the canyon we ran into a tour bus full of Swedish Tourists in a "New Orleans Tours" bus. They followed us around for the next two days. Everywhere we went they showed up. We walked into the canyon and looked and all of the dead fossils in the canyon walls. After this we called it a day. The Swedish Tourists stayed in a motel across the road from us.

    The next morning we ate breakfast at the only cafe in Study Butte. As we were finishing up, the entire bus load of Swedish Tourists came in for breakfast. We did not stay to watch the Mexican waitress take the orders of the Swedish Tourists.

    We traveled to the far side of the park to tour Boguillas (Bo key us) Canyon while the sun was still down low. We also wanted to get as far away as possible as we could from the Swedish Tourists and their danged bus. It is a couple of miles hike up and down over the hills. We first bought some nice rocks from a couple of guys who spoke very little English. I'm not sure where they came from but I think the Mexican waitress could have taken their orders with no problem. Nice prices on some nice crystals of various kinds. We hiked over and into the canyon and enjoyed all the flowers along the way. As we were leaving the bus load of Swedish Tourists pulled in. They had followed us to the furtherest reaches of the park. Their colored bus driver said they were going to Bandera, Texas after leaving here to go to a dude ranch. I would have given anything to have seen a bunch of Texas cowboy's talking to these Swedish Tourists.

    We drove around on more dirt roads out in the desert. We walked down to the Hot Springs and saw more paintings by long dead peoples. Supposedly there was a rock tablet found hidden in these canyons that proved there were Europeans here around 300 A.D. Who knows? They are all dead now anyway. We found several springs in the desert. Most of these were surrounded by cottonwood trees. This was the only shade to be found. We drove up into the "basin". This is a hole at about 7500 feet up in the Chisos Mountains. 

    You can get a room here for about $75 a night. This includes a room to sleep in with no TV. You should be happy that you get a bathroom. The view is superb and the hiking is fantastic but you have one restaurant to eat at and one small store. I prefer staying 20 miles away with a little better, but not much, selection. Two restaurants and a deli and two stores. After a few more desert side trips we called it a day.

    The next day we left early and headed back north through Alpine and up to Fort Stockton to interstate 10. The remains of the old fort don't exist. We didn't get to see where the dead soldiers lived. Here we passed a tour bus full of Swedish Tourists. They were headed to Bandera, we were headed to Sonora. South of Sonora is without a doubt the most beautiful cavern in the U.S. I've been to over 30 others from Montana to Tennessee to Texas and none of them holds a candle to the "Caverns of Sonora". There are rooms in this cavern that are covered in formations. Not just the floor and ceiling but also the walls. It is amazing. There are soda straws up to six feet long and a formation that looks like the wings of a butterfly. This is their trademark. This is also my last trip here since they doubled their prices since the last time I was here. $12 a pop (1997 dollars) is a little too much. I took my last tour and enjoyed it.

    We left there and headed to Fredricksburg. This town was built by Germans. They are all dead now. The town is in the heart of the Texas hill country. Some of the prettiest country around. All of central Texas used to be an ocean and is now limestone hills, crystal clear streams and springs that pop up everywhere. There are over 1100 springs in this country. If you don't believe me just ask Pearl Beer; it's right there on the beer bottle labels. We traveled up to "Enchanted Rock". A huge granite dome that rises up out of this limestone. This was sacred ground to the Indians that once lived here. They are all dead now.

    We drove on past the dead LBJ's ranch; good riddance. The sucker should be here enjoy his "great society" and see what a mess he created. We drove around the hills up to Georgetown and stopped for the night. Yeah, we left Big Bend and wound up north of Austin in one day. We covered some ground. The next morning we were going to Inner Space Caverns but two school buses of kids made us decide to pass on seeing the dead dinosaurs at the bottom of the sinkhole. Instead we came on home. We were dead.

                                                                                                            ~ The End ~