Some of those touristy things? Totally worth doing. The boys spent a morning horseback riding to see an old mine while Katie and I went into the ghost-town, Terlingua, and did some shopping at their trading post. One night we visited the Starlight Theatre with its live music and delicious food and, of course, we spent some time in the historic Terlingua Cemetery.
The McDonald Observatory was well worth a visit. It was incredibly educational and fascinating to see. We did the solar viewing and the star party (along with the twilight program that preceded the star party). The boys loved every moment especially looking through some huge telescopes at the star party.
The actual fort at Fort Davis is beautiful and worth a visit. We watched the introductory video and then walked around the fort. It’s set up with the mountains as its backdrop which made for pretty scenery. The boys loved the museum (especially William as there were quite a few weapons for him to actually see).
I forgot to mention earlier, but my kids love getting their National Parks passports stamped each time we visit a National Park. They were able to do that here. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pick up many mementos in Fort Davis or the Davis Mountains as their AT & T wire was clipped and everything west of Menard (I think!) lost their phone connection so cash was king.
There are quite a few cute towns and nice restaurants once you hit Alpine and travel further north and then east. Personally, we loved the murals in Alpine and enjoyed lunch outdoors at the Reata (although not our finest pick with children). Fort Davis was charming with its main street and drug store. We drove through Fort Stockton and saw the famous 1-10 Silhouettes on our way to Sonora, where we camped at the X-Bar Ranch on our last night before heading home (we ate breakfast the last morning of our trip at a delicious Mexican restaurant called La Mexicana). By the time we reached the X-Bar Ranch and I was required to sign a liability release form (which actually felt like a death warrant as the form was a full page of all the dangerous things I MIGHT encounter while camping there including but not limited to rattlesnakes, poisonous spiders and insects, sharp, jagged rocks), I was about ready to kiss West Texas good-bye and rejoin the comfort and familiarity of the suburbs.
Oh! Somehow I almost left out the flora of West Texas. And that was actually one of my favorite parts. There were some incredibly unique plants (some that you will only see in the Chihuahuan Desert). The Barton Warnock Visitor Center was completely worth the visit thanks to their exhibits on the plants as well as their desert garden. I loved the idea that those plants we saw are probably some of the most hardy plants…they have to survive some serious conditions including drought and extreme heat.
That about wraps up what I learned about West Texas. As happy as I was to return to trees and towns close by, it really was an amazing trip and the kids had a blast. Not everything was what I expected, but really? Traveling with this gang makes any trip worth the drive and every adventure that much sweeter.