5/21 Marfa to Austin
Friday morning it was time to pack up and make our all day run across Texas. We had folks to meet in Austin 430 miles away, so after jamming camp back into the car and preparing a light breakfast of fruit and nuts we headed east on the 90. First photo stop was the larger than Marfa but still small town of Alpine.
With a whole day of driving I thought this stretch might get a bit tedious but the changes in scenery and sky came often enough to keep our attention. In California it's possible to drive all day and never leave the state, as long as one is driving north or south, and we have done just that on previous trips. However, in those cases we were covering very familiar and frankly boring territory on interstate 5. Crossing west Texas was new enough and with the help of some pod casts the driving didn't drag.
The road to Alpine was just like what we had covered on the way to Marfa, marvelously flat with sharp hills just visible in the far away morning haze and clouds just out of reach to the southeast. Past Alpine the land changed dramatically. After climbing some craggy hills the road dropped into more open plains but with buttes! The first textbook buttes of the trip... flat tops and defined drops at both sides turning into weathered slopes. Even the road cuts here exposed a new sort of geology to view. In California the road cuts in sedimentary rock unfailingly show a folded and upended geology of violence. Near the San Andreas fault the layers are on edge and turned on themselves with diagonal offset slashes of thrust faults. Here the layers of rock lay in tidy horizontal batches of cake and icing. The butte tops look to have been leveled by a mason. The air had changed scent and got heavy like the still distant clouds were promising rain.
By the time we reached Ozona on interstate 10 the landscape had changed again. Low desert scrub and dry grass became juniper and cedar forest and the highway dipped over endless hills. Another highway, 290 toward Austin, and the land and sky changed again. Under dense overcast and more hot humid air the trees turned to oaks thinned by grazing cattle and goats. The highway shoulders were itching with spring color and we took some time to gawk at the wild flowers.
The highway dropped into Fredericksburg, with its long stretch of cream colored stone buildings. Here, the name of the local convenience store necessitated a photo stop (jek is one of mrs. a-go-go's other pseudonyms).
Past Fredericksburg there was more grazed oak forest but it steadily gave way to more small communities and then to thicker development and traffic.Finally, the store fronts became colorful as we left the highway for the riot of Austin.