Bluebonnets and Red Rocks travel blog

Rain on the horizon

Storm at Valley of Fires Nat. Rec. Area

Lava Landscape

Pottsluck at Valley of Fires

Lava Ripples


2017-04-12.Hills to Prairie to Mountains

From San Antonio, we drove back north into the hill country where the wildflowers bloomed in riotous colors along the roadside. However, too soon, the hills turned to prairie; flat and vast. We first stopped in Big Springs Texas, after 311 miles of driving. It took longer than usual because, we got a "check engine" light and had to stop at a truck repair shop to have them look at the fuel pump; the same one that we replaced last fall in Washington state. However, it was "fixed " when Bob installed a new fuel filter. At least so far....

As far as the west Texas countryside, all I can say is that I could not live there. Cotton is the main crop an oil and wind comprise the bulk of the economy. Oil derricks and windmills break the plane of the horizon and the fields are newly tilled waiting for the seeds though where the water comes from to nourish them is not visible. Occasionally, there is a herd of cattle but otherwise, it is a particularly boring drive.

We escaped Roswell, New Mexico without being abducted by aliens amidst weather alerts warning of severe thunderstorms, flash floods, high winds and hail. The lightening filled the sky; a veritable light show that was at once thrilling and scary. We weathered the blinding rain at a rest stop and thankfully, it did not hail but the wind was fierce. We traveled up and over the Sacramento Mountains; a welcome respite from the plains but also a narrower, curvier and less smooth traverse along US 380. The mountains reach over 11, 000 feet here but are not snow-capped. Finally after more than 300 miles, we reached the Valley of Fires Recreation Area, a wild and windswept desert set in a lava flow that, in some places, left its red and black lava more than 25 feet deep. We are staying at the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campground atop a ridge buffeted by 60 mph winds. Wow! What an isolated but beautiful spot! There are only 19 campsites but we snagged one with 50 amp electric hookup and water. There is also a dump station. At $9.00 a night for those of us with a senior pass, it is a bargain though at $18.00 for the young folks, it is still a bargain. It was so windy that we didn't put up the satellite TV dish for fear that it would be blown off the top of the RV.

There are several platformed trails with placards describing the lava landscape and its botanic and animal residents including the collared lizard, tarantula and various cactus and cedar species. We tried to hike down one of the trails but, the bad weather followed us and we had to put the dryer in use to dry our clothes. As the sun set, we drank Bloody Marys and watched the black clouds move toward us again to the east while to the west, in a clear blue sky, the sun began its descent below the horizon. I love it here! Its wild and untamed beauty is the reason everyone should get out and see this amazing country.

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