Lawrence E. Wood Picnic Area, Texas

After some gray skies yesterday, the weather looked a little better. It rained last night. Our ride took us through high elevations and small towns. We stopped in Fort Davis to look at the row of shops on main street. The smell of lunch was seeping through a screen door on an old building at the end of the row. We stopped in. We ordered milkshakes and large lunch entrees. We studied the map and left, knowing a climb to McDonald Observatory was next on our agenda.

The terrain was pretty as we crept up the hills towards one of the largest telescopes in the world. Their tours ended at five. We would have to ride hastily to make it. The wind was not helping. At one point we stopped to have a snack and two bananas and a jar of mayonnaise blew off the table we had set them on.

We crept on. The day crept on. The were beginning to realize that we would be unable to make it to the observatory before it closed to the public. We reached a peak where three telescope domes were set. We made the final climb to the visitors center to find water. We would need to get some for our dry camping tonight. The place was deserted. We spoke to one person, just leaving. Still no hint on where to find water. Eventually we tracked down an observatory employee who led us to a faucet.

Disappointed, we descended a small distance down the other side of the peak to a remote picnic area. We set up tents. It was cold. There were clouds in the sky and the wind was howling. We made a small fire to try to stay warm. We remained cold. Lightning could be seen across the horizon. As we crawled into our tents, the clouds blew past and stars could be seen. It looked as though we would be spared the rainfall, and I could now see why they built telescopes in the area: the Milky Way was smeared across a black sky. There was no trace of blue; only black and white. And I could imagine how cold it might be in space.