Report #13 - Rita's Visit - Highpoint #1
Rita in the snow at Guadalupe / Self portrait of Allen on Guadalupe Peak.
In the last report I had arrived in an El Paso RV Park, and searched out
the best park in town because Rita was to arrive the next day, Friday 30 January, and I
wanted to impress her. But Murphy stepped in and Friday morning my water pump failed.
There are 2 ways to get water pressure to the fixtures in my trailer: (1) from the onboard
tank using the water pump, or (2) from a campground faucet through a hose. No problem;
after I move to the new campground I hook up a hose.
Well, small problem; I have always found it difficult to connect from faucet to trailer via water filter and pressure limiter without a leak somewhere. With some effort I did it, then I tried to buy the replacement part (a pressure switch) for the pump. No luck. I would have to buy the entire pump or look elsewhere for the part. When I returned to the trailer, water was pouring down the side and into the street. The fitting on the trailer turned out to be partially stripped. Now it was panic time; Rita was due to arrive in a couple of hours, and I had no water pressure in the trailer! I tried replacing the stripped fitting but soon decided it was a bigger job than could be completed in the available time. By rearranging things, I was able to get an almost watertight, if fragile, water connection. With fingers crossed, I drove to the airport to pick up Rita.
Rita standing in the mighty Rio Grande at El Paso
We spent 2 days exploring El Paso by truck, then decided to visit Carlsbad Caverns, 150 miles away in New Mexico. The plan was to move the trailer to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 100 miles closer to Carlsbad, then visit Carlsbad Caverns as a day trip. But the campground at Guadalupe Mountains did not have hook ups, so the water pump had to be working. We bought and installed a new one with no problems and were on our way by 11AM Monday. We visited the caverns on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, after cleaning a couple of inches of new snow off of the truck, I drove Rita back to El Paso where I delivered her to the airport after lunch at Hooters.
Hooters - delighfully tacky, yet unrefined (I actually took this picture at Hooters at the Underground in Atlanta, GA).
The Guadalupe mountains are the remains of a 250 million year old reef and Carlsbad Caverns are the result of limestone being dissolved from the uplifted reef around 20 million years ago. The main cavern has more than 30 miles of passages of which about 3 miles are open to the public. The main area is a giant space known as the "Big Room". Will Rogers described it as the "Grand Canyon with a roof on it." Rita and I took an elevator down about 750 feet to the "Big Room" and walked a paved trail around the 8.2 acres. We missed the evening flight of bats from the cave (up to 500,000 bats exiting at up to 5,000/minute) because the bats had left for their winter home in Mexico.
An interesting formation in Carlsbad Caverns. Do you see a face?
Rita checking out Lion's Tail in Carlsbad Caverns
The mens bathroom in Carlsbad Caverns
Butterfield Overland Mail
Starting in 1858 the Butterfield Mail Coach carried mail and passengers 2,800 miles from Saint Louis to San Francisco in less than 25 days. Averaging 5 miles/hour 24 hours/day, the coach stopped for a fresh team about every 4-6 hours. One of these stops was at a station known as the Pinery located in present day Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Rita and I walked to the ruins of the Pinery where we read the fascinating story of the Butterfield Overland Mail. It cost a passenger $150 to travel from St. Louis to San Francisco, and he/she was advised to bring a pistol, and food that did not need cooking. The Civil War brought an end to the stage route after less than 2 and 1/2 years of operation.
Guadalupe Peak - High Point #4
I joined the Highpointers Club (www.highpointers.org) almost a year ago, and have not reached a state highpoint since ... Until now! At 8,749 feet, Guadalupe Peak is the highest mountain in Texas. It had snowed the previous morning, and a couple inches of snow remained at higher elevations, but the climb went without a hitch despite cold wind, and rapidly moving clouds which threatened to bring rain or snow. My next highpoint will probably be Driskill Mountain in Louisiana - a daunting 535 feet above sea level!
In the past I have reached the high points of California, New York, and New Hampshire, so Guadalupe Peak is my #4 - just 44 more to go to reach my goal of climbing to the high point of each of the lower 48 states!
Guadalupe Peak as seen from Hunter Peak
The Pratt Cabin
I explored part of the Pratt family history a while back when Rita and I visited Italy (www.assisi-downs.com/europe/pratt) and couldn't pass up an opportunity to continue my research into the history of this interesting family. The Pratt Cabin is located in McKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains at a spot that Wallace Pratt called "the most beautiful spot in Texas."
The Pratt Cabin.
After leaving Guadalupe Mountains National Park, I visited Fort Davis National Historic Site in the town of Fort Davis - the highest town in Texas. Fort Davis was established in 1854 to protect immigrants, mail coaches, and other travelers on the San Antonio - El Paso road. Today it is one of the best remaining examples of a frontier military post. I was fortunate to join a tour given for 3 volunteers by the base historian and to hear tidbits of the human history of the fort.
National Museum of the Pacific War
This excellent museum in Fredericksburg, TX covers the background and history of the pacific theater of World War II. A separate building covers the life of Admiral Nimitz. I arrived at 11AM and was kicked out at 5PM with much left unseen.
Most of my time in Texas has been spent at higher elevation (in the Guadalupe Mountains and Fort Davis) where it was cold and windy. I'm now at lower elevation (about 2,500 feet) where it is still cold. And it's raining again.
I've seen some interesting animals recently. On Hunter Peak in the Guadalupe Mountains a saw a herd of 10 or so animals that I would call big horn sheep, but I'm told they are some other breed. In the campground, in addition to deer, there was a fox. On the road this morning I encountered a stag who was trapped by the fences which ran along both sides of the highway. He ran ahead of me for a while, then crossed the road in front of me and ran headlong into the fence. I saw many dead deer along the road; perhaps they had been trapped in the same manner. In the pastures near Fredericksburg I saw more sheep and goats than cattle - I thought Texas was the longhorn state.
This guy and 9 or 10 of his companions crossed the trail in front of me on Hunter Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
And here is the whole gang.
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Page last updated May 24, 2004