Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mostly Texas Tedium

Our Southern Winter Wonderland Adventure
Day 7:  San Antonio to Big Bend National Park
“The plains-the wonderful great big sky--makes me want to breathe so deep that I’ll break--There is so much of it.”  So wrote Georgia O’Keefe in a letter to Alfred Steglitz.  Oh, if only we could feel such rapture driving across the arid plains of Texas.

There is not much happening for miles and miles. Not many trees, not much wildlife, just lots of brush and barbed wire fences.  We can’t even find roadside attractions, because we can’t pick up a Verizon signal most of the time.

One exception is in the town of Comfort, home to the only monument to the Union erected in a state south of the Mason Dixon Line (except in National Cemeteries).  Comfort was settled by German immigrants in 1854.  This monument marks the grave of 38 German immigrant farmers who were chased and massacred by their non-immigrant neighbors in 1862, after they refused to sign a loyalty oath to the Confederacy and left town in a group of about sixty men intending to join up with Union troops camped nearby in Mexico.  The massacred men’s bodies were left unburied, and their remains were reclaimed by their families in 1865, to be buried here in a mass grave.  The words engraved on the monument are German--“Treue der Union.”  Some historians estimate that as many as 150 citizens of Comfort were killed for failing to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.  The lucky ones just had their homes or farms burned.

Back on the road, by afternoon, the land began to roll, and then we came upon an expanse of mesas hosting a forest of wind turbines stretching for miles. Mountains in the distance began to huddle close to the plain.  Now we are at the very tip of West Texas in Big Bend National Park, staying 5,000 miles up in the Chisos Mountains. We got here just as the sun set, washing the peaks around us with warm russet tones, then leaving them as dark silhouettes against a deep pink sky.  Tomorrow we will see the mountains in a new light--literally.

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