For the last week we’ve been in West Texas, which looks far more like how Texas is stereotyped—dry, open space, with plenty of open range. We’ve enjoyed several days of Big Bend National and State Parks, and today we ended the trip with a tour of Fort Davis, the military base of the famous Buffalo Soldiers. (As an interesting fact, the soldiers were referred to as “buffalo” by the Native Americans because, according to them, our grade of hair resembled that on the top of the buffalo). We almost missed out on the Fort because of a noise the car began to make late on yesterday; the last thing you want in no man’s land is a car that konks out on you the Sunday before New Year’s Eve. The noise was nonexistent this morning, and we made a prayerful gamble that the car would hold up at least until we reached a sizable metropolitan area. If you have the opportunity to come this way, it is well worth the trip. The Fort is an awesome trip backward to post-Civil War history. I find it intriguing, to say the least, that one of the first occupations of the freed slave was to, simplistically put, capture Native Americans in creating space for those who would brave the trip west. I guess it shows us that, at the end of the day, we are all more alike than we sometimes think: we do whatever it takes to help our families experience a better life . Anyway, the Fort is largely preserved as it was (so bring walking shoes—you’ll need them!), and though most of the actual buildings are now in fragile ruins, the Park Service has excellently restored much of the area to show the day-to-day life of the average soldier. Finally, there is equal “time,” for lack of a better term, given to the Buffalo Soldier and to the Apache who fought hard to maintain what once belonged to them.
Not being a Texas native, when people speak of its southernmost parts I immediately think of the flatter, more tropical landscape that I see when driving to Brownsville or Harlingen. I’ve not seen mountains like this since a trip to Colorado or Utah! Though it was somewhat unplanned, the oldest has been rediscovering rocks and minerals through this first half of general science, and this trek through the mountains was perfect. I had become concerned that the lessons weren’t sinking in, but when I heard her conversing about rock strata and uniformitarian thinking vs. catastrophist thinking on how rock formations become what they are, I couldn’t help but thank God for answered prayer. I love the power of an in-the-moment field trip.
Well, thanks to the gorgeous landscape, I’ve got yet another set of pictures waiting to be posted. The two older kids took great photos with their new Chistmas toys, so I may simply direct you to their blog entries. However, I think I’ve now finished with the disposable camera that held sweet potato experiment pics, our first lapbook photos, and now this expedition. I should post them soon, though it will probably take me much longer to scrapbook them into an album. I actually spent one day of the break laying out pages—I got as far as a 3-page layout on the kids’ trip to Moody Gardens, and then got sidetracked. One day, Lord, one day!