I so did not want to get up at 6:30 this morning. Dan hadn’t slept well and woke me up a couple times during the night, so I was tempted to skip my morning run. But I reminded myself that I would missing my last morning run at Big Bend, so I dragged myself out of bed and went. Even though I was starting to stiffen up from the hill-running and mountain hiking the day before, it was a good run and I was glad I made the effort.
I had done most of my packing the night before, so it didn’t take me very long to get ready to go. We had the truck loaded by 8:00, had breakfast, and checked out.
I would’ve liked to have gone for an early hike, but Dan had his heart set on Balmorhea, which suited almost as well. I hadn’t been there in nearly thirty years and was curious to see it again. So we headed north out of the park, stopped in Alpine for gas and supplies at one of their organic grocery stores, then continued toward Fort Davis...
...then picked up the road down the mountain...
...and to Balmorhea.
Balmorhea was pretty much how I remembered it, except smaller. Isn’t everything you remember from childhood smaller? The water was cold and it took me awhile to get used to it. Meanwhile, little fish nibbled my legs and toes, which didn’t bother me for the most part, except for a few times when they bit hard and I had to shoo them away. I was curious to get a good look at them, so I finally forced myself to get my head wet, and after that I was able to tolerate the water just fine. My new swim goggles didn’t leak, so I did laps for a little while, swimming with the little silver fishes. But then some kids decided to start a game of water volleyball where I was swimming and there weren’t any other good places. I think there was a spot I could’ve used near the diving area, but the water in the section closest to the spring feed is much colder and last time I was at Balmorhea I got chilled over there and ran into some difficulty in the middle of the pool. No way was I trying that again in my older and hopefully wiser state. So I said good-bye to my fish friends and got out of the water.
With temps in the 90s, it didn’t take long for my hair to dry while Dan and I had a picnic of leftover tortellini from the night before, heated in foil on the sunny dashboard. Then, after what was really too short a stay, we got back on the road.
By now I was really feeling the lack of sleep the night before and the long stretch of I-10 made me sleepy. There’s just not much out there between towns, and even the towns aren’t much to write home about. This was the first time we had driven this stretch in daylight, but I wasn’t surprised to see that we hadn’t been missing much, unless you count this mural of Paisano Pete, the roadrunner. We didn't pass by the statue this year, but I've photographed it before.
For awhile it looked like we might run into some rain, but it remained always just a little ways down the road.
It was a relief to make it into the hill country.
We thought we’d have to stop for the night somewhere between Fort Stockton and Kerrville, but we ended up getting all the way to Kerrville by 6:00, where we decided to stop for the night. We got a hotel room, showered, and went to dinner at a cute little restaurant near the historic downtown. Then we went to our favorite bookstore to see what time they would open in the morning, and decided to call it a night.
It looks like we’ll be home a day early, which suits us both fine, but in many ways I consider myself home already, back in familiar territory where I feel no particular urgency to do as much as I can before I have to leave. I’ll be glad to have part of Wednesday and all of Thursday to get settled in before going to my workshop on Friday. I see that the pollen forecast in Houston remains high. Joy. Time to start taking the meds again, I guess. Some day I’ll be in a position to move someplace where I don’t need pills just to keep breathing. It’ll be grand.
Tonight there's a storm outside my window. We left in rain, we return in rain. It's a funny world.