Monday, March 18, 2013

Texas Longhorns and other Stuff

We (well...I, really) decided to travel along the Goodnight-Loving cattle drive trail that was fictionalized in Michener's Centennial and Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. So we went up north along the Western Trail cattle drive route to Abilene, Texas to visit some of the starting areas of the drive and see what it felt like to be there where hundreds of thousands of cattle were driven to market in the late 1800s.

This is the Western Trail route through Texas:

We drove right up this route from Kerrville, Brady, Coleman, Albany, Fort Griffin and Throckmorton.

One day, we took off to visit Fort Griffin to see the Texas Longhorn herd that's been preserved. (We found about the herd from There's about 250 of them presently (with baby steers on the way) that are spread out over a few areas. 

We drove up to what remains of the fort only to find these guys roaming around as if they owned the place! You could tell they'd been everywhere because they left big patties all over. Kim was a bit nervous about getting out of the car because they look like bulls ready to charge...especially with those horns! But, they were gentle as can be. You just have to watch them when they get close because they don't always realize where their horns are going when they move their head and...if you happen to be too close....

The caretaker was nice to get them close for us. He honked his horn then pulled out a bag of protein feed and, man, did they come a' runnin' !!

We counted about 15 in this herd.

Kim able to get close enough to pet one but she had to watch for those horns.

That's Texas Steve next to his longhorn steer.

The fort itself is pretty non-existent...only a few walls remain out of some 95 buildings. Not much to see, but always nice to "feel" the presence of the soldiers, wives, and families that lived there.

Mess hall in the foreground and suttler's building in the background (that's where the soldiers bought their personal items..mostly booze. Their money went mostly for booze and gambling...not much else to do out here).

Mess Hall for the enlisted men.

One of the remaining chimneys from the officer's quarters. 

Back of the suttler's place.

Administration building.

Bakery where over 800 loaves a day were baked. There were as many as 900 people in this fort to feed

We then drove north to visit another site...the largest longhorn steer in Texas!

In comparison to our van.
You could see this guy from about a mile away as we approached him. You could tell it was a "He" because, know...

We did see some other fake cows in town...

So lifelike...we'll have to make some of these someday.
 Lastly...some photos of the Texas countryside. These roads are west of Austin and Fort Worth and they're the actual road the cattle were driven on over 140 years ago.


Now what the heck do you need a fence here for? Believe it or not, there's cattle in there eating some of that stubble. Amazing.
Mesquite trees are everywhere.

These close ups are of the area around our RV running in these woods.

Prickly pear might as well be the Texas plant....fields and fields of it.

It's not just these long thorns that'll get you..there's lots of real tiny ones too.

We really like this part of Texas but boy, is it windy! We haven't put our awnings out in over a month!

Oh. we'll end with a little poem about Texas:


The devil, we're told, in hell was chained,
And a thousand years he there remained,
And he never complained, nor did he groan,
But determined to start a hell of his own
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained to a prison pen.

So he asked the Lord if He had on hand
Anything left when He made the land.
The Lord said, "Yes, I had plenty on hand,
But I left it down on the Rio Grande.
The fact is old boy, the stuff is so poor,
I don't think you could use it in hell any more."

But the devil went down to look at the truck,
And said if it came as a gift, he was stuck;
For after examining it careful and well
He concluded the place was too dry for hell.
So in order to get it off His hands
God promised the devil to water the lands.

For he had some water, or rather some dregs,
A regular cathartic that smelt like bad eggs.
Hence the deal was closed and the deed was given,
And the Lord went back to His place in Heaven.
and the devil said, "I have all that is needed
To make a good hell," and thus he succeeded.

He began to put thorns on all the trees,
And he mixed the sand with millions of fleas,
He scattered tarantulas along all the roads,
Put thorns on the cacti and horns on the toads;
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steers
And put an addition on jack rabbits' ears.

He put little devils in the broncho steed
And poisoned the feet of the centipede.
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The sand burrs prevail, so do the ants,
And those that sit down need half soles on their pants.

The devil then said that throughout the land
He'd manage to keep up the devil's own brand,
And all would be mavericks unless they bore
The marks of scratches and bites by the score.
The heat in the summer is a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the devil and too hot for men.

The wild boar roams through the black chaparral,
It's a hell of a place he has for a hell;
The red pepper grows by the bank of the brook,
The Mexicans use it in all that they cook.
Just dine with a Mexican and then you will shout,
"I've a hell on the inside as well as without."


Next stop: Fort Stockton and Fredericksburg.

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