|View from "The Window" in the Chisos|
|The ash deposits at Cerro Castelan|
The Chisos Mountains are volcanic in origin and reminded me a lot of the steep rock faces of the Columbia Gorge. The mountains form a basin that has kept a little Eden away from the desert. There is more rainfall in the basin than in the surrounding plains, and as a result the prickly pear and agave grow along side my old friends the Madrone and Douglas fir. The plants are remnants from millennia past when the area was more temperate. Black Bear and Cougar roam these parts along with Javelina. I felt so at home in this area because it was a little Texas and a little Northwest – just like me!
Of course the soaring landscape was only part of the show. I had my nose to the ground most of the time looking at plants and cool rocks. As we hiked along the Window trail we traversed over a rainbow of scree. It was only a 6-mile round trip but I had to stop every few feet to take photos. I rued my cheap camera but the truth is that no lens, or even the human eye actually, can capture the beauty and majesty of this place. I bought the DVD at the gift shop to send to Oregon for family to see. When I got home and watched it I felt a little better – because even the professional photos were crap compared to the real thing.
|Snow on Agave flower stalk.|
|Purple prickly pear|
We went through Marfa Texas to visit an art museum and to go to the observatory. Unfortunately the McDonald Observatory was closed since it was snowing – something about limited visibility. We went to the Chinati Foundation art museum, which occupies a former army installation. It features modern art that we were told by other visitors that is very famous. The art is in the form of minimalist installations of stainless steel cubes, neon lights, metal and concrete statuary, plus a vignette of an abandoned Soviet classroom. Here is the link: http://www.chinati.org
I tried really hard but could not appreciate any of it. It was too cerebral for me and it seemed so arrogant and small to have a bunch of boxes in a room when outside the window that magnificent landscape stretched far into the horizon. There was no attempt by the artist (who created the whole place) to celebrate the stunning natural beauty around him. I found the play of light on the spears of yucca and the cubist forms of the eroded landscape much more moving. I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic. Note to self: don’t pay admission to modern art galleries in future (although I LOVE Jackson Pollock – just to show I’m not a complete cretin.)
In whole that part of Texas gets under your skin and you can’t shake it. I am going to try to go back in April to try to see the prickly pear in bloom. There are a couple of areas where whole plains are full of Sotol, Yucca, and cacti that stretch to the horizon. I can’t wait to go back!