Fort Davis, TX and So. Many. Stars.

3/22 – 3/26/17   We were very excited to end our 5-ish weeks in Texas with a stay at Davis Mountains State Park near the McDonald Observatory. We grabbed a plenty-big campsite just 2 sites away from Airstream friends we had met months before at Anastasia State Park in FL and settled in.

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We were pleasantly surprised to find that Fort Davis was a National Historic Site and the boys could earn another Junior Ranger badge there. I love that the Junior Ranger program has been such an excellent science and social studies curriculum this year! This was a pretty cool fort, built to aid and protect American travelers (as well as mail coaches) during the big gold-driven migration westward. Its history is fascinating and worth a read! Can you imagine riding in that covered wagon for thousands of miles (or better yet…walking it?)?

During our stay at the state park we visited/ate/drank with our friends, played in a dry riverbed, painted rocks (and hid them around campsites), attended a naturalist-led program about owls (science!) and the pièce de résistance–attended a Star Party at the McDonald Observatory. That’s what we were looking forward to the most…a budding astronomer’s dream. Of course I got exactly two pictures, but let me paint you a little virtual picture…upon arrival you find a seat in an open-air amphitheater-in-the-round. Once the daylight fades, an astronomer/speaker describes and shows you (with a very cool laser pointer that reaches the heavens) the zodiacal constellations and explains their history. We saw the International Space Station move through and disappear into the blackening sky. We can now spot not only Orion’s belt (easy!) but all of him, including his little pin-head (seriously, such a tough guy gets a pathetic little dot for a head?). Once this presentation was over, everyone filed out into the yard to view various celestial objects through a dozen+/- high powered telescopes. My favorite was the Orion Nebula, which is literally where stars are BORN. Like a star obstetrics ward. Baby stars! As we waited in line for the last telescope we witnessed a shooting star so bright, with such a long tail, it looked like a firework…the collective “ooh-aah” from all 100+ visitors was pretty cool. Quinn & Cal talked about this night for weeks and spent hours drawing constellations and the solar system…science for the win! With I had more pictures!!

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Another amazing few days of learning in the books…but it was time to move on to a new state! So long Texas…you were surprisingly awesome!!

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