Thursday, April 13, 2017

That West Texas Sky.

^^^I honestly don't think I'll ever get over how blue and bright and big 
the skies were on this day
^^^those long drives out West were really exhausting for me ;) 
^^^there ain't nothin' like a West Texas sunset

Hey, hi, hello! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Well, let’s just pretend it’s only been a hot minute and fall right back into it, shall we? 

About two years ago, I came home from work to find a 1984 VW camper van parked in my parent’s driveway. I didn’t believe my parents when they first told me that the van was theirs, as they had literally not told anyone about the purchase beforehand. 

The van, or ‘Woody’, as my dad has so affectionally named it, is my parent’s favorite project. They’ve gone on several little trips with it and are constantly making small adjustments and improvements on it. I had yet to go on a trip with them in their dearly beloved ‘Woody’ and I had been wanting to go back to Big Bend National Park, so we thought we’d finally all take a trip together out West. 

Many a spring break vacations were spent at Big Bend, as we visited almost annually growing up. I love the park for a multitude of reasons but namely because of the skies. It is true that everything is bigger in Texas and in West Texas, it’s even truer. I swear the farther West you get, the bigger the sky gets. It’s absolutely incredible. 

We were fortunate on this trip to have many sunny bright blue skies during the day. And at night the skies were even more stunning. The stars shined bright and we laid out on the ground searching for new constellations on more than one occasion. 

The hiking at Big Bend is quite spectacular as well. There are hikes for the experienced and inexperienced and are all worthwhile. Boquillas Canyon, Santa Elena Canyon, and the Balanced Rock trail are just a few of our favorite hikes that we got to tackle on this trip, all of which came with beautiful views and an out-of-breath Hannah. We stuck to the trails we all knew and loved (and missed), and it was like walking down memory lane. Very little about Big Bend has changed since my last visit and I think that’s part of what makes that place so special (and why I love it so much). 

While we were out West, we made a few additional stops before heading home. Our first out-of-Big-Bend stop is always our favorite ghost town, Terlingua, which is home to eclectic gift shops, an eerie graveyard, and award-winning Chili. 

We also made it out to the Fort Davis Mountains, where we went to the McDonald Observatory for a Star Party. If you are ever in West Texas and can make it out to a Star Party, don’t walk but RUN to it! The observatory had multiple telescopes out, all focused on something different and spectacular in the sky. We saw Jupiter and several of its moons, Orion’s Nebula, craters on the Moon and, my personal favorite, an up close look at M3, a globular cluster of stars. It was breathtaking.

Our last stop before heading home was the Balmorhea State Park, which is just slightly north of Fort Davis. This park is home to the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool. The water is crystal-clear and perfectly cool and relaxing and I loved it. Highly recommend, especially when you need a break from desert heat!

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. I loved being out West and seeing everything I had missed since my last visit almost ten years ago. Big Bend and the West Texas skies will forever hold a special place in my heart and I hope it doesn’t take me another ten years to go back. 

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