Post image for “Mountains & Meteors”

“Mountains & Meteors”

by ESP on February 1, 2016 · 1 comment

 gulf muhly grass

I found this huge Differential Grasshopper

Melanoplus differentialis


swaying around in a patch of Gulf Muhly.

I could hear groans and one “really dad”? emanating from the back seat as I rolled effortlessly out of my truck, camera in hand, to stalk the creature in the middle of a rather public walkway on Wimberley high street.


We took a walk down the now serene Blanco River. 


The habitat is still recovering from the devastating flooding of last may when the river rose 30 feet in less than three hours.

Flood Damage

We climbed over and under lots of smaller trees that had been pushed over as the river experienced rises that exceeded 20 feet in one hour.

cypress tree

Most of the old cypresses had weathered the storm with only a few cuts and bruises,


though this image from last year shows some were not so lucky.

I wonder if these were cypresses?

Chihuahuan Desert

We recently took a trip out to Marfa (west Texas) in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert to visit friends 


and play in the snow…yes snow!


She wasted no time generating a chilling family.

Marfa is situated in the high desert of the Trans-Pecos between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park.


It is famous for its contemporary art scene and of course the mysterious Marfa lights which unfortunately I did not get to experience on this trip.

I hope the artist does not take offense to the title tag I placed on the image.


“Mulder, I cannot believe is was 1999 when we made that episode about the Marfa lights.”

“Just five more miniseries to go Scully.”

 We took many walks and encountered plenty of interesting minimalist desertscapes, some


appeared to be an extension of the street.


Nassella trumpuissima?

Yucca faxoniana

After a close encounter with a Spanish Dagger,

Yucca faxoniana



and a few more snowballs in my back,


Marfa, Texas

it was time for some liquid refreshment (courtesy of El Cosmico) and then up into the Davis mountains for a spot of hiking.







Eagles soared effortlessly overhead, things on the ground were a little different.


The views around this area are staggering but you had better watch where you are walking, everything in this terrain is out to get you.

Davis Mountains


Dasylirion texanum


grow like weeds at this altitude,

rock-faceeven out of rock faces!

The Chihuahuan Indians made use of the plant by fermenting sotol juice into a beer-like alcoholic beverage as early as 800 years ago. The outer leaves are removed to reveal the central core, the core can be cooked, shredded, fermented and distilled.

sotol4-smPhoto by Phil Dering

These pulpy cores were also baked and pounded into chewy patties which could be dried and stored.


The Indians also used the straight flowering stems of the plant as lances and spears with an attached stone or metal point.

We DID tell you it was going to be cold.

Davis Mountains

An occasional high pitched squeal would give away the position of these perfectly camouflaged smaller cane cholla cacti lurking in the native grasses.


The larger ones were not so much of an issue.


At the top of the trailhead we had a glass of vino and observed and tried to identify (with the help of our very informative local field guides) lichen and scat aka: (King Richard the 3rd’s)  see: 

King Richard III

Occasionally the scat was on the lichen making it unclear as to which field guide to use first.


From up hear we could see Indian Lodge,


a pueblo style lodge constructed by the CCC in the 30’s.


In the far distance we could see the McDonald Observatory.



A short car ride later and we were standing inside UT’s Frank N. Bash visitors center staring at a rather large iron meteorite that was found 15 miles northwest of the observatory by a seven year old.

Frank N. Bash visitors center

It is made up almost entirely of iron and nickel.


Mountains to meteors…thanks for a great trip L & N.


Time to charge up the iPads, avoid the tumbleweeds (I had no idea how big they could get) and hit the very straight roads back to Austin just in time for my daughters birthday present.


Tumbleweed Chandelier by Jean Landry, Marfa.

Photo by Susan Simmons

She had been excited and looking forward to seeing her YouTube idol Colleen Ballinger (Miranda Sings) perform her show for months,


and tonight was the night – a sell out show at the Paramount.

Colleen Ballinger

She had no idea she was going to meet her!

My return home was significantly less glamorous…



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1 David Cristiani June 12, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Been buried, changing careers, etc…just read this, great trip! If Marfa had places available to live, and more options on things to do, I would have moved there!

Anyway, I think you had Dasylirion leiophyllum, not D. texanum…the former gets larger with trunks. But more green than D. wheeleri, which is what is in the wild near me.

Great to hear from you again David….and good luck with your new endeavors. Marfa is is really an interesting place, we had a really nice trip there visiting friends. Thank you for the correction. P.

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