Thankfully, the drive from Lake Arrowhead State Park (blog post) to Abilene State Park was uneventful. The best kind of three hour drive day imaginable. Mostly, it was southerly or southwesterly driving on US-277 and US-83 with a few Farm to Market (FM) roads thrown in for good measure.
On the drive, Linda and I talked about the juxtaposition of old fossil fuel petroleum based energy production and the newer “green” renewable energy sources like solar and wind. On this short drive we saw pump jacks bobbing in oil fields and armies of giant windmills dominating the rolling plain. Windmills are signs of high steady winds of which we had plenty on our drive.
All I can remember from our 2003 trip here is driving through Buffalo Gap, the last town on the way to the park. Buffalo herds passed through Buffalo Gap in large numbers. The town sits at an ideal crossing point for buffalo to pass-through between two Texas geographic regions. It must have stuck in my mind as some sort of oddity or freak of geography worth remembering.
When driving toward Buffalo Gap from Abilene, the hills do appear to funnel the roads through Buffalo Gap. Perhaps the same process worked for the buffalo?
Driving into the park, I was struck by the number and density of pecan and oak trees. The park feels like a forest, something that seems out of place in a Texas region mostly defined by flat expansive prairie. The forest provides shelter from the sun and strong winds that so often punish these plains.
In our campsite, I found the ground tilled by armadillos. In the forest beyond the campsite, I caught glimpses of deer stealthily slipping through tall grass, brush and trees.
I heard wind gusts rustling the leaves. I felt the breeze cooling my bare arms and legs. The sun, muted and shaded by trees, warmed me only to be cooled by breezes. I heard the hunting cries of a red-tailed hawk. Back and worth the hawk hunted, then moved off, searching for prey. At nightfall, crickets and cicadas serenaded me.
Occasionally, noise from cars traveling on the state highway intruded but only when nature was having an intermission. An occasional airplane buzzed slowly overhead.
This is the first park where I’ve seen real live yurts. This is a park that is trying to stay relevant.
There are a number of short and easy trails.
A few bridges over streams.
Stream flow is pretty good. There was a committee of vultures roosting on the water tower. Almost makes the water sound impure.
Wildflowers are still blooming in the park in early October.
The Buffalo Wallow looks like it might be an overgrown pond that needs to be cleaned out. It may also be that this is the natural state for a wallow, a place where large four-legged critters like to wade in for a muddy bath.
The park on Tuesday and Wednesday was unusually quite. The deer started becoming more visible and less concerned about being seen on the roads.
At times like this, when the park isn’t full, this is an amazing park. We arrived Monday and left on Friday. It sure feels like we have the park to ourselves.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!