Day 30, November 9, 1997: San Angelo to Eagle Pass, TX

Whew! Writing this should finally get me caught up. It appears that getting behind even a little bit isn't a good idea.

The trip down from San Angelo was pleasant enough although there was every indication from early in the morning that the weather was shifting. It was solidly overcast and it looked like the run of near-perfect weather was ready to come to an end. As I write this it still hasn't rained but tonight should bring a real gully washer my way as the sky was solidly black and the wind was coming on strong as I got into the motel room.

At the urging of Grace Buckbee and her brother, I determined that a stop at the Caverns of Sonora was on the schedule for today. Despite the name, it isn't really in Sonora or even really all that close to it so I made the ten-mile trip up the Interstate after getting into Sonora and found it readily. After taking the guided tour of these caves, I agree completely with those who recommended them. They were actually more interesting than Carlsbad Caverns despite being much smaller and shallower. The key is that these are largely active caves rather than the dried-out remnants in Carlsbad. Having the water running and the formations glistening really makes a difference. The fact that they also maintain a much more photo-friendly light level is a real plus (the guide switches the lights on and off as the group moves through the 1-½ miles of passages and rooms so algae growth is less of a problem). This cavern is intimate. The passages are sometimes quite narrow and low and the tourers are in close proximity to all of the formations which adds greatly to the effect. Given that the temperature is around 14-degrees warmer than Carlsbad with 100% humidity (there is running and dripping water everywhere) does make it a soak-to-the-skin sort of walk though. I'd rate the Caverns of Sonora as a must-see for anybody traveling across I10 in Texas.

The pictures today are all taken in the cavern. One shows formations that resulted from a sudden shift of water levels. One is a general shot along a path. The last one is one of the most spectacular formations I've ever heard of; through natural processes and centuries a perfect butterfly was formed in calcite.

One other pretty (but unphotographed) scene today was vast expanses of sage blooming purple on either side of the highway. The fact that it was blooming in November down here just blows me away. Then again, there are banana trees growing by the pool here so the weather must be a lot different that I would have expected.

I realize now that my visit to San Angelo, TX and the path back to the edge has deprived me of a visit to the Big Bend area of Texas. This is one of the most touted scenic destinations but backtracking all of the way to it would have required too much time (I promised my Mom that I'd be at her place by Thanksgiving Day and I intend to make it). I guess that this will have to remain a destination for a future trip.

Tomorrow I'll press on toward Brownsville, TX and the Gulf of Mexico as the 13,000 mile solo journey around the edges of the USA continues. Maybe I can pick up some fresh oranges on the drive south since I'll be in a major citrus area.

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