Friday, March 11, 2011

Pecos, Ft. Stockton, Ft. Lancaster, Ozona, Sonora & Junction, Texas

Sat, March 5th - Tue, March 8th

Saturday we stopped in Pecos for lunch and a walk around town. They claim to have had the first rodeo here in 1883. They are also famous for the cantalope they raise here. Since the 1880s people such as Helen Keller, Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson have ordered them along with exclusive clubs in Chicago, New York, St. Louis and other cities. There is a museum in the old hotel across from the train station downtown. Next to the museum is a replica of Judge Roy Bean's place in Langtry.

We drove on to Fort Stockton where we spent the night in the Walmart parking lot. We went for a long walk around town. They have a really nice visitor center in the original 1911 Kansas City, Mexico and Orient railway depot. There is a train car next to it and an oil rig and old windmill out front. On either side there are metal cutout sculptures of the Comanches, soldiers, pioneers, vaqueros and a fountain from the original Comanche Springs. They have a swimming pool in town where they have been having water carnivals since 1938. It was fed by a spring that produced 65 million gallons a day. We walked thru the historic downtown and the old fort which still has all of it's buildings. Pecos County is one of the most prolific oil and gas producing counties in Texas since 1900. Since 1926 over 710 million barrels of oil had been produced as of a 1973 sign. We saw our first apple tree in full bloom here and have seen lots since then. Springs a comin'.

On Sunday we took a scenic detour off I-10 and by accident stumbled on Ft. Lancaster, which we had never heard of. It was mostly in ruins, but they had a small museum including a stagecoach and covered wagon. It was a beautiful day to walk around the ruins and enjoy the scenery. This agave, or century plant, was next to the parking lot. It takes them twenty some years to bloom and they bloom once and die. The heart of the agave plant is cooked down to make tequila. The Apaches used to make a type of beer and mescal from it, thus the name Mescalero Apache.

Moving on, this is the courthouse in Ozona. The monument out front has Davy Crockett on it with the inscription "Be sure you are right and go ahead". Ozona is in Crockett County. We have noticed that several of the counties are named after people who died at the Alamo.

How long has it been since you have seen a tire swing? These two were in a yard just across the street from the courthouse.

This is the courthouse at Sonora. Texas towns, and especially their courthouse squares, tend to have lots of historic markers. This one had over twenty lined up along the sidewalk just behind me telling of all the people and families that settled here and built the town.

In Sonora we hiked some of the trails in the Eaton Hills Wildlife Sanctuary which overlooks the town. Along the Dry Devil's Trail we saw these remains which I presume are the result of someone's sense of humor.

We stayed in Junction, Texas Monday and Tuesday nights in the city park right next to the dam on the Llano River. It was beautiful and you can camp there three nights for free. As we were wandering around downtown an older gentleman stopped us and asked if we needed any directions. He proceeded to tell us about points of interest in the area. John asked him something about Coke Stevenson who is from Junction. He was a legislator and the governor and lost an election against Lyndon Johnson by a very slim margin when it was claimed that a lot of the votes for Johnson were made by dead people. The saying goes that when a young boy was asked why he was crying, he said his dead father had come back to vote for Johnson and he didn't even stop to see him. It turns out the man we were visiting with is a lawyer and had at one time worked with Coke Stevenson. Junction is also where Bear Bryant brought his football players in by bus to train when he felt the parents were interfering too much with his training program. There was a movie made about it, Junction Boys starring Tom Berringer.

This boulder right across the river from our RV is where there was a Confederate Veteran's Reunion in 1908 for vets from both sides who were living in the region to bring Americans together to remember, honor and heal past differences. This boulder deposited by the Alta Vista Mountains served as the speakers platform. There was flooding at the time and people had to be ferried across the river on an overhead tram.

This tree of antlers was in front of a meat processing place and had been there since the 1960s.

We walked all around town. Some parts of the town are very junky and run down. I especially liked this place, because there was no junk around. It was just very simple and rustic, pretty much stress free I would think.
On to Fredericksburg tomorrow.

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