Fort Davis, TX: Desert Paradise
I’ve always sought the weird in life. Weird studies, weird travel destinations, even down to embracing weird food. So when my sister and brother-in-law bought a cabin near Fort Davis over a decade ago, I had a feeling I would like this quirky, unknown frontier in West Texas.
For all the traveling I had done up until then in Texas, I had not even considered that there was much between San Antonio and El Paso. It’s just oil mines and sand, right? Word on the street is that not even many Texans realize this place even exists.
Well, I was in for a shocker. A nine hour drive from Fort Worth, in the middle of seemingly nowhere, are the Davis Mountains. Full of lush local plant life and natural springs, the history of the area reverberates between the red mountains.
My first time there was how I spent my spring break in 2005. I was a junior in high school and was excited to road trip with my sister. My jaw literally dropped as we encroached on the Davis mountains. I couldn’t believe this desert paradise in the middle of nowhere. Being a typical seventeen-year-old, all I was thinking about at the time was where I would apply to college. Maybe I should apply to college here, I thought.
I couldn’t get enough. That first visit, we ate locally-made ice cream and took walks in the Davis Mountain preserve. I couldn’t get over how far everything was from everywhere else. An aunt lives “just up the road” from where their cabin is, which in reality means one very bumpy and very slow drive up the mountain.
One sunny day, we drove the Scenic Loop, a curvy and indeed scenic route that connected much of the beauty of the region into one road. My eyes were glued out the window, gauking at the green shrubbery right alongside prickly pear cacti, and surely a rattlesnake (or three) hiding nearby.
We took a break to tour the incredibly impressive McDonald Observatory. Just think: they only put those massive telescopes where it’s far enough from city lights and disruptions. The sheer darkness provides optimal conditions for excellent star-studying.
By now, millionaires and celebrities have “found out” about the remote area, and other transplants include hipsters seeking to escape Austin. Those that stay, however, are the artists, the natives, the societal outcasts. The weird ones. But they are the good ones. They are the scientists, the caring artists. They are the ones that stay are committed to staying off the grid. There’s a reason why when you go, you’ll be advised to take at least a week. For, in this weird desert paradise, time works in a quirky way.
Fort Davis wouldn’t have it any other way.