21 May 2013

West Texas, Day Four

Day four found us driving to the town of Balmorrhea (pronounced Balmoray) to see the big natural spring where my dad got his life guard certification during high school. It was also on that fateful day that he suffered the worst sunburn of his young life. The sunburn has become legendary.

I couldn't fit the entire pool into one shot, it was so huge. It had a rocky bottom that dropped to a depth of 30 feet.

And yes, plenty of fish, large and small. I told him he should take off his sneakers and cool his feet, but he said he didn't want to go to the trouble.

I badgered him into it.

Next we headed to Fort Davis, TX and up into the Fort Davis Mountains where we had dinner at the Indian Lodge.

From there it was on up to the McDonald Observatory.

We arrived at sunset. There were no tours that day, and our star party (at the visitor's center below the domes) was not set to start until well after dark.

So, at my dad's urging, we broke the rules and drove up to the "Service Vehicles Only" area. We're such rebels. We walked around a bit, taking photos of the domes, until a guy walked out of one of them, clearly headed home from work.

My dad struck up a conversation with him, and the next thing we knew, he had invited us inside to see the telescope my dad had once looked through back in the 1950s.

We started out on the catwalk, encircling the dome.

And then there it was - the 1939 telescope. And lo and behold, our friendly astronomer and his buddies offered to let us look through the telescope.

We watched, awestruck, as they opened the dome. We got to see a star, they didn't say which one, but the scope made it brighter and closer than any star I'd ever seen up to that point.

Needless to say, my dad was one happy camper after that treat!

Copyright © 2013 - Paulla Estes

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