Penny’s Diner in Apline, TX provided a warm breakfast after camping in Marathon. With full bellies and coffee to go we pushed on to what we thought would be our last day in Texas. Getting out of Texas has proven more difficult than we thought. Good thing we had fun!
Thanks to the recommendation of Bill, we took a small detour to the Macdonald Observatory at the University of Texas. We arrived just in time to catch up with a tour group that started 10-15 minutes prior.
On the guided tour you are taken into one of the observatories on top of Mount Locke to see the Harlan J. Smith, a 107″ telescope. We are huge nerds and love space, so this was a really cool stop for us. We learned a little about the mechanics of these observatories and even got to see the dome and telescope in motion.
Rather than an eye piece like smaller at home telescopes, this telescope is hooked up to computers for viewing. Though there are a few different options available for scientists as to where the incoming information goes.
I kind of wished we could have stayed and helped research space. Maybe someday.
The plan for this part of Texas was to see the Marfa Lights. Since they only appear after dark we had some time to kill. We found Big Bend Brewing Company and stopped to sample some of their craft beer. They have a tasting room that opens up to an outside patio. The brewery is dog friendly, so Devlin got to come hang out with us. The weather was quite beautiful for sipping a beer on the patio chatting with some other folks passing through the area as well.
We did a drive through tour of the town for a bit before the sun went down. After the sun went down we headed to see the lights. The viewing area is about 7 miles outside of town off the side of the highway. There are binoculars set up and a restroom. The night we were there was the last day of Texas’ spring break, and the viewing area was quite crowded. People gather from all over to experience the supernatural, the unexplained, extraterrestrial life or even the divine. Whatever anyone’s individual reasoning may be, we are all looking to be a part of something bigger than we’ve known. There are many theories about what the lights are from skeptics and believers alike. We definitely saw the lights and we were definitely a little perplexed. I don’t know what they are, but they have been appearing for decades. We spoke with someone who went to the viewing area and didn’t see the lights. Maybe they don’t show up every single night? Even though we had no idea what we were seeing exactly, one thing is for sure. We did see lights off in the distance and a few spots that had a pulsing glow much closer to the viewing area. The experience was thought provoking and definitely worth the stop.
Here’s to our last night in Texas!