Seminole Canyon State Park, Fate Belle Shelter and Amistad Dam

2/20/13 Wednesday at Del Rio, TX (Elks campground-$12/night)

Neither of us got a good sleep last night, what with all the wind. Finally it was calm around 5 am. We took off for Seminole Canyon State Park under cloudy skies. In an hour we made it to it’s headquarters, in time to check ourselves in, pay the fee ($3 each for Park entrance and $5 each for guided tour of Fate Belle Shelter) and see some of their exhibit. This is a rock shelter where prehistoric peoples painted images. They made the paint by crushing colored rock, then mixing it with water to form a watercolor.


They added animal fat to give it substance and soap from the Sotol plant to help the water and fat combine. They used plant fiber brushes to apply it. We have no idea why they painted these images.





This is a sculpture using symbols the images used: a human looking figure with a deer’s head is holding an Atlatl (a kind of dart to throw when hunting) in it’s right hand and the symbol of the circle of life is on its right shoulder. The staff in its left hand includes a bird that represents flight.




Our ranger guide as we approach the Fate Belle Shelter, which is up and to the left of the image. The water is from rain which last fell January 1st. This area is humid, even though little rain falls, because the Amistad Reservoir is so large.





At the rock shelter you can see where the floor used to be, the dark areas in the center of this photo, as well as the rock at the bottom that was the floor that fell away. Above are the pictographs (paintings)



IMG_7144 Forrest and Linda Kirkland spent their vacations in this area (around 1938) recording these images in watercolor. Their drawings show us more than we can actually see because with the sun’s rays and the humidity of the area are causing these pictographs to fade.

At the first shelter area I didn’t realize this and didn’t get a photo of the corresponding image for that shelter. I was just struggling trying to find the symbols I saw.


I did get a photo of it in the exhibit area.  Other than “Flindfiled”, can you find the images I’ve captured below in this watercolor?







An engineer for the railroad (Flindfield) made his mark as well. VV is for Val Verde County, 73 is for this numbered archaeological site.





Images from the first site.













IMG_7093 Texas Mountain Laurel at that sight.  It was so amazing to see something blooming!  They smelled like lilacs…






IMG_7099 The watercolor of the next site and a couple of the pictographs.  Can you find the images in the watercolor that I’ve photographed?



















IMG_7103Cool rock we walked past







Rock that these peoples used for a butcher block, so it’s had animal fats (now people’s oily skin) rubbed into it, to make it shiny. Up close you can see the cut marks.






Watercolor of site and close up of “ghost” image











Watercolor of site and close up of “winged” image













Sea Fossils in rock







200 year old Mesquite tree.






IMG_7151As we left that park we saw a sign: “Y’all Come On Back”. Soon we found a spot to view the High Bridge over the Pecos River.






Next we went on to the Amistad (“friendship” in Spanish) Dam that crosses into Mexico. This dam provides flood control, water conservation, hydroelectric power and recreation, built by both Mexico and the US (the cost shared according to a ratio that reflects the amount of water allocated to each country). Heavy fog had settled in when we arrived so the photo is not so great. In the middle of that dam I also took a photo of the

IMG_7156border, where you have the Mexican Golden Eagle and the US Bald Eagle. Then back through customs where they need to see your Passport before letting you enter the US, even though we were never actually in Mexico.

We were pretty tired at this point, but managed to get grocery shopping accomplished since there won’t be any good opportunities at Medina Lake, where we’re headed tomorrow.

Finally, we got home, with time for naps, then supper. The man who “borrowed” our $25 never came. The sad part of that is not the $25, it’s the sense that we may have been scammed. We’re less likely to help next time, at least not with money.


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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