After a three-month long sabbatical, Bullwinkle is back on the road! We left the comfy confines of Kerrville yesterday and headed into the vastness that is west Texas. Our travels on I-10 were quite familiar, as we passed this way last Spring. But, after we turned south on US-67 toward Alpine we were in new territory as we headed toward the mountains of Texas. (Can you see them off in the distance?)
Here in the mountains, such as they are, our home for the week is Lost Alaskan RV Park, which is just a mile or so north of downtown Alpine. At an elevation around 4700 feet, we are definitely “up” here. We love the name of this lovely little park and will be on a mission to discover how it earned its name!
We picked this park to serve as a base for exploring the sights in surrounding Marfa, Marathon and Fort Davis. Alpine is basically the last “outpost” before Big Bend. So, we’ll stock up on supplies here before we head south.
After a day of just relaxing around the park, we spent today getting “oriented”. Our first stop was the Museum of the Big Bend. The museum sits on the campus of Sul Ross State University. The beautiful native stone structure opened in 1937 with a goal to to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the cultural, historic and natural materials of the Big Bend of Texas and northern Mexico.
We were greeted by a very friendly docent who gave us the lowdown on the place and pointed out some of the key features of the museum. Left on our own, we strolled through the displays of early life in the region, including this look back at one of the areas 20 missions that were established in the 1600s.
Commerce came to the Big Bend before currency. Early merchants bartered with customers. In general stores of the era, shopkeepers issued coins that customers could exchange for goods.
Every March and April, the museum hosts a very special exhibit. The Trappings of Texas is the oldest custom cowboy gear and fine western art show in the United States. Each piece displayed in this juried show must fit the theme of cowboy life. Together, these 120 works provide a delightful multi-media mix of the contemporary and traditional West.
The silverwork was beautiful, featuring spurs, knives, jewelry and lots of belt buckles. (We are in Texas, after all!) This hide shaped belt buckle commemorates the silver anniversary of this shiny event.
There were plenty of paintings, many of which featured a touch of whimsy. “Cowboy Photographer” was a watercolor that caught our eye. The old Polaroid made us chuckle.
The intricate braiding on this Texas-style bridle was intriguing.
The leather work on display was most impressive. We’re not horse people, but we were captivated by three saddles. We have never priced saddles, but this gorgeous one was priced at $10,000.
The flower carvings went all the way to the stirrups. The price for this field of flowers was $25,000.
The saddle was aptly named “Coming Up Roses”. It featured 250 tooled roses and a sterling silver rose horn cap. Asking price: $30,000. Now those are some mighty fine saddles!
We resisted the temptation to take a saddle home, and instead headed to one of Alpine’s finest restaurants for lunch. Reata is a quaint and very comfortable spot that offers great service and fine Texas cuisine in an old Alpine farmhouse. There were actually other diners there, but we were the last to leave the front dining room.
Now that we’ve been sufficiently oriented, fed and watered, we’re ready to enjoy all the Big Bend region has to offer. With sunny skies and daily highs forecasted in the 80s and 90s during our visit, we’re looking forward to soaking up some serious Texas sunshine.