Saturday, August 30, 2008

Home to California

Early Sunday morning I left Austin to drive west across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally California. Highway 290 through Fredricksburg and then 10 all the way to Quartzsite in Arizona. North on 95 through Lake Havasu City and then west again on 40/58 to Bakersfield. Finally north on 99 and home! Driving through the deserts is lovely, not so much traffic.
Tucson and Phoenix areas are always busy and 99 was a zoo. For most of the trip I just relaxed and enjoyed the country side, sky and clouds.

Sunday afternoon I was making good time into Van Horn, Texas when I saw a sign for Balmorhea State Park. Just a few miles off the highway, so I went to explore. It's another one of Texas' famous springs. Again, 20+ million gallons a day. The water is transported through the park in a series of canals, flows through the pool, and then out into the country side for irrigation.

Weir on a canal just in front of the motel.

The entry road bridge.

This is one leg of two that branch off the main big oval pool. Several local families were having picnics, but the campground was empty. Temps were just in the middle 80s due to clouds.

The town of Balmorhea consists of a couple motels, a little store, several churches and this shrine. Just across the road a herd of goats grazed in open pasture. No fences. The highway south goes to Fort Davis and on to Big Bend. Another time I want to visit those mountains.

Monday morning is not so early. I want to avoid El Paso rush hour traffic. About an hour out of town the desert began to bloom! The grass was green and highway crews were mowing the medians.

El Paso Haiku

Wildflowers bloom in the desert, welcome rain.

My half way stop between Van Horn and Tucson is Los Cruces. Old Mesilla is a historical district similar to Columbia. Some residences, many shops, a couple restaurants (always closed when I am there!), a town square and this lovely church.

Private entry.


In Tucson I stayed with Second Sister, R and husband, J. They have a beautiful home in the desert. On Wednesday we went to see San Xavier, The White Dove of the Desert, a mission church from the 1500s. It has recently been completely restored. The interior is amazing. Every single inch is decorated in a mix of Catholic and local art and symbolism. This snake is the handle on the huge wooden door at the main entrance.

A side court yard. Thunder clouds again.

The left side of the church is under restoration. No concrete is used on the building, it's all done with the original recipe for mortar made with local ingredients.

R. is a volunteer at TROT, "Therapeutic Riding of Tucson". She participated in a workshop Wednesday afternoon, while I watched the horses and the sky.

Thursday I headed for Lake Havasu where I stayed over and headed out early early Friday morning for home. Between Tahachapie and Bakersfield this farmers market was over flowing with peaches. I was home!

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