These mountains don’t stand particularly tall, but boy do they look good doing it.
At 4000′ on average, even the flat parts of West Texas are higher than most everything Back East. So throw another 2000 on there and a feeling of intense “I can climb that and still be home for breakfast…” tends to start crewing into your boots.
Rolling desert hills wearing Torrey yucca eyeliner and blind prickly pear lipstick are split at the seams by jagged, craggy brown extrusions of rock that shoot immediately outward and upward, steep and almost entirely covered in a beard of moss and lichen.
Usually evergreen Emory oaks have gone completely golden and with their twisting black trunks they sweep across the foreground of all these gorgeous mountains like extra icing on an already well endowed cake.
A group called the Davis Mountain Master Naturalists has left mounds of wood stacked around the state park here, with simple signs that read, more or less, “We want you to come out and camp with your kids. Here’s some wood to help you do that, donations accepted.”
As we burn through seven of those logs at our own campsite, a pamphlet I picked up in the ranger station rests somewhere inside of our Airstream, silent for now. But we’ve all seen it. A map of Texas showing which counties have seen cougars kill humans since 1983. Dark gray indicates those which have, and there are more gray squares than white. We’re right in the middle of it the darkest patch.
Tomorrow I’ll ride my bike into town to find a natural food store or public library I can work from. There’s no cell service in the park itself, which means I’m a working man, commuting in a way I haven’t had to in over a year. It’s fun, the ride is a sweeping downhill through previously said gorgeousness, and no doubt daily the thought “Can I outrun a cougar on my bicycle?” will occur.
But for tonight, the fire nearly dying, I’ll fall asleep in our van. With the woman I love, the woman I’ve always dreamed about and still get to dream beside. In the morning a baby boy–at the age of two now, that term is only barely still applicable–will crawl out of his pack’n’play and through disheveled hair will peak his eyes at us, and with a groggy morning groan, “Mama, I have a bottle?” he’ll light up a new day. I’ll see her shimmying out of sleep as well, and things will be perfect at least for those first few moments of morning.
But before all of that, she and I will wake up at some after-midnight point, simultaneously, and slip out the back door of the van to sneak a pee.
As the sound of splattering urine rings true, I’ll look up.
“Look at the stars,” I’ll mumble.
“Whoa,” she’ll reply.
We’ll file back into the van and slumber, a trillion pinholes of various intensity lighting the sky in purple swaths of truly awesomeness just a peak out the window away.