On the road again; we're on the road again!
We left San Antonio heading southwest towards Eagle Pass, a different route than one we had taken before. As soon as we passed the city boundaries we found ourselves in grazing land, much of which is uncleared brush with cattle wandering through. This is still large-scale cattle country, with long stretches of fence and occasional large ranch houses. We passed a couple of Cactus, Langtry, TX ranches which appear to hold game animals, possibly deer. Here and there some farmers are irrigating the land -- we saw hay fields and pecan orchards.
We noticed the same increased prosperity around border towns that we had in Laredo, as NAFTA brings new trade activity between the U.S. and Mexico.
We reached Del Rio by midday and took a walk through a city park built around the river, which was clear and racing with the recent rain. Except for a grandfather and toddler we were the only visitors. Apparently the park gets lots of summertime use, with a pool and lots of picnic tables, but it was buttoned up for winter. There had been a miniature golf course which was quite thoroughly wrecked. The pool and golf and a couple of sandy volleyball courts were newly enclosed in a stout and locked cyclone fence. We deduced vandalism, followed by protective fencing after the damage was done.
Leaving Del Rio, we soon found ourselves in recognizable terrain: the great Southwestern desert, Texas variety, with lots of cactus and creosote bush and low shrubs, with trees restricted to the banks of rivers and streams. To our left was the Rio Grande, and Border Patrol agents were much in evidence.
When we left San Antonio it was a chilly 36, but leaving Del Rio we saw The Jersey Lilly Saloon it had warmed to 56, and was a pleasant sunny day.
Judge Roy Bean was a west Texas tourist attraction even before he died almost a hundred years ago. A self-appointed lawman and saloon-keeper, he dispensed frontier justice, keeping the fines to support his business. His saloon, the Jersey Lilly, was named after his heart's desire, the English actress Lillie Langtry, to whom he wrote frequently. In fact the town (!?) of Langtry, Texas is named for her. She visited the site, but Bean had already died. Here is displayed a reconstruction of Bean's home, which he called the Opera House and Courthouse, as well as the restored original Jersey Lilly. The whole thing is enhanced by a very nice Chihuahan Desert garden with descriptive signs and now run by the State as a Tourist Information Center. Recent additions are several video projections of reenactments of some of Judge Bean's more interesting cases. (Yes, this is the same Bean for which Beanville, Texas is named.)
The area we're driving through has the lowest population density in Texas. The little towns, their businesses displaced years back by freeways, are almost ghost towns.
Our little motel in Sanderson (AAA rated and $39.95) had two-prong electrical receptacles, and we couldn't find an adaptor for our power strip. Actually that's not quite true. A smiling man with a powerful whiskey breath offered to give us an adaptor in return for a ride home. We passed. Still the heat worked fine and we debated which of the town's two restaurants to patronize for breakfast: the Country Kitchen or the Kountry Kitchen.