Along the way, I managed to snag a couple of personal overnights at two state parks that could hardly be more different from each other. Here's a photo tour of these unique places.
|"Watch for sand on road"? Ya think?!|
There's almost as much money in West Texas as there is sand. I was impressed by the Monahans Sandhills visitor's center - it had to be a seven-figure facility in an otherwise-underfunded state park system where some visitor's centers are little more than converted shacks.
|There's some sand on the road. I watched for it, eh?|
|The visitor's center rents plastic disks that kids use to toboggan down the sand dunes. It's hilarious.|
|It was a Monday night in late October - there were a couple of ham radio enthusiasts towing Casitas and three other miscellaneous dispersed campers, but the park was almost empty and I had this branch of the campground all to myself.|
Incidentally, this is the only state park I have ever seen that does not have defined trails. The reason for that should be obvious. Even if trails were designated, the sand would simply swallow them up. So the humans do just as the animals - they walk wherever they please.
|I've never happened upon a better track-viewing place in my entire life. The density and diversity of unseen life was just amazing.|
|Feline, I think.|
|Big Bird, perhaps the one from Sesame Street? Because what else could be out here? Normally if I saw a bird track that large, I'd guess some kind of heron, but there's no standing water in this part of Texas.|
|With tracks there are scents, and our dog reveled in the complexity of it all.|
|Texana shot of the old windmill in the park, for contrast.|
|And the old section house, which is now rented out as a group lodge.|
|There's a new term for me - "sand-bogged". Like a physical analog to "mind-boggled".|
|We could have done without the color contribution from the inversion layer, however. That air pollution you can see in the distance was originating with the Midland-Odessa metro area.|
|What will happen|
A dog instinctively knows
If she steps over
The angle of repose.
|Dog on fire, as we climbed our final dune to watch the setting sun.|
After the completion of my work in the area, we proceeded to Junction, Texas.
South Llano River State Park is no exception.
|It boasted really good hiking in a diversity of of terrains (18 miles of trails), from the limestone relief that defines the Texas Hill Country to the river bottomlands. But...|
|...river access was mediocre. Most banks were steep and there were almost no gravel bars or other low-lying physical features that would allow easy entry to the cool, refreshing water. Not a good place for young children to splash.|