Sun. – Mon. Dec 10th -11th: Sunday after breakfast in Houston, we – me and Joe, Jr. and Jackie – drove back toward Galveston Island. It was a warm sunny day so we decided to stop in Galveston to take in another tourist attraction, the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum, which we saw in the harbor but did not have time to visit the day before. So we explored this dry docked oil rig, learning about offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas. We saw models of the four different kinds of platforms that dot the Gulf of Mexico in an arc of over 2,000 rigs spanning out 125 miles. We read about the Deep Water Horizon explosion that happened 48 miles off the coast of Louisiana in April 2010. This preventable accident resulted in 200 million gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. 11 of the 126 on board were killed in the initial blast and many more were injured. We left the museum better informed on all things oil and gas, strictly from the view of the big energy companies. Oil is very very good to us.
On our way back to Jamaica Beach we stopped at Fabian Kennel to pick up the dogs and were greeted by a flock of peacocks and peahens blocking the drive. Very beautiful. Back at the Calypso, we enjoyed an awesome day just walking on the beach and lounging on the deck. Later we went to Mario’s, a little Italian restaurant in Jamaica Beach where we had pizza and wine then came back and watched Deep Water Horizonstaring Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russel on Netflix. Joe and I had seen it last year at the theater, but now that we knew more about oil rigs and off shore drilling in particular, many of the details in the movie were not lost on us.
After Jr. and Jackie left for airport around eleven Monday morning, we spent the rest of the day preparing for our trip to Big Bend National Park located in south-west Texas, on the Mexican border. We hated to leave the beach, since the weather had finally gotten its act together; sunny and warm, with a nice breeze blowing off the Gulf, but the mountains and stargazing in one of the best dark sky spots in Texas beckoned.
Tues. – Wed. Dec 12th -13th: We dropped dogs at kennel 8 am, and then drove west along San Luis Pass Road crossing the bridge into Freeport.
After about 20 miles on Bluewater Highway in Surfside Beach we turned north onto Texas 332 where we took another bridge off the island. It was pretty cool going up-hill to cross the channel below, as this is something we do not experience in Kentucky and Ohio. We continued along several blue-roads north and west to I-10 then on toward San Antonio, where we picked up US 90 South.
We spent the night in Del Rio at the Ramada Inn and had dinner in the adjoining restaurant with free drinks compliments of Ramada. We had decided not to go into Mexico from Del Rio, due to possible safety issues. Joe had read on the internet before we left that a law enforcement officer from Val Verde County Texas said that he could not guarantee your safety if you choose to cross over into Mexico, so we retired to our room for the night. Up early the next day to drive almost 200 miles to Marathon where we planned to stop for an early dinner. The day before someone from Big Bend called to say their dining room would be closed on Wednesday Dec 13th for their employee holiday party, and that we may want to eat before we arrived at Chiso Mountain Lodge. So that was our plan.
About 40 minutes into our drive, we stopped at the Pecos River overlook on US 90 where we were treated to a spectacular view of Pecos River Canyon. A few miles further down we stopped again to get photos of the Pecos Viaduct, a steel cross beam railway bridge that was completed in 1892 to accommodate the Union Pacific Transcontinental Railroad. The viaduct is still being used today.
One of the best stops was in Langtry when we unexpectedly came to a sign informing us of the Judge Roy Bean Museum just off the highway. So we visited the original Jersey Lilly Saloon, where the judge held court from 1882 to 1902 when he died right there in the back room of the establishment. What I knew about the infamous “Hanging Judge”, as he was sometimes referred to, I learned from the 1972 movie starring Paul Newman, “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”. I recalled that Judge Bean declared himself “the only law west of the Pecos”
After Hwy 90 crosses the Pecos River it begins to follow the Rio Grande, and in some places we could see across the river to hilly terrain of Mexico on our left. Note: we did not see a wall, but we did encounter Border Patrol. To help keep this country safe from any Mexicans who may have waded or swam across the border and hiked through the craggy desert to the road and for some inconceivable reason were able to get into a moving car with US plates, there is the mobile Border Patrol unit who set up cones and wave vehicles off the road to be inspected for anything suspicious (e.g. drugs or a non US citizen in the trunk). So not long after we left Langtry, we found ourselves corralled off the road and forced to a stop, only to be waved on with a nod when the officers perceived us as a non-threat. Could be our lack of skin color or the fact that we were older and driving a nice new car. Profiling us, for sure.
Read Previous Post Dec 8-10; Baytown & Party
Read Next Post Dec 13; Texas Vibe