Week 50: Hot and Cold

In case you missed the last episode, here’s the short version: we were in Texas. It was pretty. Every single thing, from the vast landscapes, to desert wildlife, to prevalence of $2 Shiner Bock beers, reminded me that I was not in DC any more. Along with that came exposure to new germs, and a resulting quick-onset cold. So unfortunately, the last few days of our trip were spent in a literal and figurative haze caused by illness and incessant rain.

Case in point:

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We left Big Bend via the west, driving through Big Bend Ranch State Park–another stunning landscape that we managed to have all to ourselves. Then the rain set in. Even though Texas is considered a hot place, it can also be bone-chillingly cold. Rather than walking around Marfa and reveling in the art and weirdness, I huddled over some warm tea in a coffee shop for a few hours. Further up the road was Fort Davis, home to the national historic site and famous observatory. We planned our visit to coincide with the observatory’s “star party,” in which they invite the public to use the telescope and experience the grandeur of one of the darkest skies on earth. But instead, our view was of thick clouds and closed restaurants. Ugh. The only bright spot was our bed & breakfast, which was warm and full of baked goods and hot chocolate.

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Since Marfa is known as an art mecca, I tastefully applied the black and white filter to this photo.

From there, we drove north to I-10, stopping at Balmorhea State Park, one of the country’s largest natural hot spring pools. Picture a U-shaped pool nearly 200 meters across, with crystal clear, 76 degree water…and fish, turtles, and what looked like coral. It was so trippy. Adding to the experience was the fact that Elliott and I were the only people there. Due to the steam wafting over the water, there was very limited mobility in the air, but the water was like an aquarium–a participatory one.

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And this is just 1/4 of it.

Our destination that day was Fredericksburg, in the heart of Texas Hill Country. Wine, barbecue, historic downtown–what’s not to like? How about 40 degrees, pouring rain, and a head cold? I wound up spending much of our time in Fredericksburg passed out at the hotel with a hot towel on my head. Luckily, our gem of a hotel also had a delightful amenity:

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The next day, we returned to San Antonio. Under normal circumstances, I would have had a great time exploring the River Walk, historic downtown core, fun restaurants, and incredible museums. But I was sick, tired, and cranky, so this is what we got:

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A photo of the Alamo is obligatory. A smile is not. 

Oh well. Who wants to return from a vacation feeling rested and healthy? Overall, it was a great trip and we’d like to return…maybe stocked up on vitamin C.

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