Over our two week trek through west Texas and southeast New Mexico, we experienced many things, but as is always the case, certain things stood out.
Favorite restaurant: La Trattoria, Alpine, Tx. Their dark chocolate hazelnut cheesecake is possibly the best dessert I’ve ever tasted in my life.
Favorite lodging: The Maverick Inn, Alpine, Tx. This quaint motel with a Zen cowboy atmosphere is owned and operated by a family of cats, but they have a couple humans working for them.
Favorite lodging lobby: Hotel El Capitan, Van Horn, Tx. This place is an old renovated hotel in a teeny town off I-10. I asked the desk clerk about the bullet holes in the stairwell window. “I don’t know, but it used to be a bank,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. I’m always looking for a good story.
And while I’m in Van Horn, this was our quirkiest discovery: “Fancy Junk.” No one was there to talk to, the place wasn’t officially open, but someone there has a knack for making artwork out of scrap metal . . . insects, spaceships, dinosaurs, etc.
Okay, while I’m still in Van Horn, what the heck is a Haul of Fame? No, we did not eat there.
Favorite critter encounter: This had to be a tie. I couldn’t decide between the colorful lizard or the tarantula. Both were photographed during a hike on McKittrick Canyon Trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Most nostalgic moment: At the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center, there’s an exhibit of 3D photography of the Lecheguilla Cavern. When I looked through the lenses at the first photograph, I immediately was reminded of “View Master,” one of my favorite toys as a kid.
Longest drive: Alamogordo, NM to New Braunfels, TX – over ten hours.
Biggest disappointment: So few bats flying out of Carlsbad Cavern at dusk.
Most educational visit: McDonald Observatory. This place has an awesome deal. For eight bucks, you get a three hour astronomer-led tour of some of the largest telescopes in the world. I learned more about the sun and how telescopes work – it’s all about mirrors – than I ever knew I wanted to know. Great place!
Most physically challenging endeavor: Hiking to the top of Emory Peak, Big Bend National Park. (See previous post.)
Most pleasant surprise: There are no mosquitoes in west Texas or SE New Mexico!