Fort Davis

2/16/13 Saturday at Marathon, TX (Marathon Motel and RV Park-weekly rate)

No wind and best of all this is the first night I’ve slept all night long, until 6 am. Unfortunately, John woke up several times during the night. It helps to have some exercise (great hiking at Big Bend) and quiet during the evening.

Not only was the night good, but the morning was bright and calm, so we decided to visit Fort Davis. We got so excited that once we took off, we had to go back for our packed lunch, John’s watch and my water. After our false start we got on the road at 9:30 am. We made a quick stop in Alpine for bread, for there was none left for John’s egg sandwich. He made his sandwich when we had our lunch at Fort Davis.

By the way, the Park literature states that “the elevation of Fort Davis is 4,900 feet…Winter is cool and windy, and strong winds prevail in the spring.” At Marathon the altitude is 4,045 feet so no wonder it’s been so cold at night and often windy.

IMG_6937 Officer’s quarters, under a lovely bluff. This is the best restored fort in the Southwest, according to one note, largely because when it was decommissioned it was returned to private citizens. It lasted from 1854 to 1891, with a 5 year break during the Civil War. It was commandeered by the confederates for a couple years then.

 

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Don’t you love the privy? Foundation only, unfortunately.

 

 

 

 

IMG_6962Commander’s house – furnished as it was when General Grierson served. He led the 10th Calvary of Buffalo Soldiers and managed to chase Apache Chief Victorio back into Mexico where he was eventually killed.

 

 

 

IMG_6958 Front Parlor

 

 

 

 

 

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Back Parlor

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6964This is the Church, but it filled many functions:  Church on Sunday, School taught Monday through Friday and Saturday nights it was also used as a dance hall (the band played until midnight sharp, then stopped even if it was in the middle of a tune),

 

 

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They had a hospital there that cared for everyone in the area.

 

 

 

 

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Very few surgeries were performed because it was so dangerous (they didn’t know about germs then). Most died from disease illnesses like dysentery or diphtheria. The average life span for a white man was 48, for a black man it was 33. In one family all 7 of their children died in 2 weeks.

 

 

IMG_6950 Since John was a paramedic, I have to include an image of the ambulance of that time.

 

 

 

 

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The commissary

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6976The enlisted men’s barracks

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6979In one building the floor boards had been eaten away by termites. Before installing the new flooring they had archaeologists collect the items that had fallen through the floorboards through the years. They found items from the first years of the fort through the civilian years. This is a photo of the marbles they found: clay, ceramic then glass. This is a good one to enlarge for a certain reflection.

We walked a few blocks over to the Overland Trail Museum, only to find a handwritten note stating they were closed for the winter.

We checked out the walking/driving tour of the city of Fort Davis. Here are some of their buildings:

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First Presbyterian Church

 

 

 

 

 

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Courthouse. If you enlarge the photo you’ll see the “constable” sign. There is a “court reporter” sign on the other side. We think this marks their parking spots.

At that point, we headed for home. We stopped at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botonical Gardens, but it cost $6 each to walk to a vista and greenhouse for cacti. John said he’d seen enough cacti, so we didn’t stay. When we reached Alpine we finished our grocery shopping, then continued on home.

Our night went as usual except John went over to see if they were having a campfire and returned saying that the fire was lit and there were microphones and chairs set up. I finished the dishes and we dashed to the party, only to discover that it was a private party for a group staying in the Motel part. So we watched TV.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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