We made our usual bird-feeeding trip to the San Angelo State Park this morning. Afterwards we tried to do a little birding ourselves. It is a typical West Texas hot summer day, with all the doldrums. So, in lieu of any exciting bird photos, I again, will try to impress you with some of my West Texas outdoor photography. I hope you will enjoy the images.
First up is one of my personal favorites. About 20 miles or so east of San Angelo there are some Indian pictographs dating back hundreds, if not a thousand years ago. They are along the Concho River, on private property. The ranch is owned by Fred and Kay Campbell. After being closed to the public for many years, they decided to open it so that the paintings can now be appreciated by everyone. You only need to call them and let them know when you want to go.
The first time Ann and I made the trip, Kay, who is a retired school teacher, gave us the grand tour. Before taking us to see the 100 foot cliffs, she demonstrated to us how the Indians of that time made their paint. She then drove us to the site so I could do some photography. Since the pictographs are so high from the ground, at times I would make a move to climb the rocks to get a little higher. True to here teacher personality, she would say, “Now you get down from there, Bob. There are rattlesnakes in there.” A very colorful and funny lady.
The following photo is of a notable landmark outside of Ballinger, Texas. A local rancher and business man, John Studer, took it upon himself to build this beautiful cross on his land, then open it to the public. It rises about 120 feet and can be seen from miles around.
About 30 miles north of San Angelo you will find the two communities of Bronte and Robert Lee, Texas. When you travel the highway between the two, you will come to a turn-off for Hayrick road. It takes off to the north then follows a gentle turn, eventually returning to the main highway. It is a great birding drive. It takes you through remnants of the old village of Hayrick, which was the original Coke county seat. Nothing there now but the old cemetary. A few years ago a lady commissioned me to photograph Hayrick Peak. She also liked the cemetary, so I managed to get the two together in the following photo. Below that picture is a photo of Nipple peak that is along the same road.
I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the song “Luckenbach, Texas”, a song made famous by country singer Willie Nelson. Well, there really is a Luckenbach, Texas. It is about 12 miles southeast of Fredricksberg, Texas. It consists of a cotton gin, dance hall, and the famous Luckenbach post office. Besides the postal work, it is also a little trading post, and at the rear is a small bar where you can go to whet your whistle with a cold beer. You might even get to hear Jimmy Lee sing you a song while you relax from the heat.
Further out west, in Big Bend National Park, you will find Robert Luna’s Jacale. A jacale is an old dugout type of structure, made of sotol, ocotillo, mud and local rocks. Senor Luna built this one after he got married. He resided in it until he died at the age of 108 – in 1947. So if you do the math, this homestead is probably near 150 years old. It is a surprise that it is still standing, but the walls are very thick. When I discovered the place you could walk inside and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. Since then there has been the occasional incidents of vandalism, so the National Park Service has now covered the front door with chicken wire. They had been maintaining it and you can see the cement patching on the roof. I feel very lucky that I got this photo.
North of the Big Bend and west of Fort Davis there is a beautiful drive that takes you through scenic mountains. The following photo was taken as I was leaving Fort Davis and heading for Balmorea. It was early morning and the sun was just rising.
Back here in San Angelo, just west of town, we have these nearly identical hills that are called “Twin Buttes”. I had been asked to come up with a good photograph of them. It was a difficult assignment as it is hard to find a suitable place to get the right view, to include both in the same photo. Some vantage points had private housing in the way. Other spots I didn’t like the way the buttes were positioned. Also I had to make the photo interesting in itself. I finally found this place across the Twin Buttes Reservoir where I had an unobstructed view. But without an interesting sky, save for just a few white clouds, I decided to get down under these mesquite trees and include their branches. I think the result was nice.
I hope you have enjoyed these photographs. Click on any of them for an enlarged view.