We left Arizona, drove through New Mexico, and ended up near Marfa Texas for the night. The terrain during the day had its ups and downs, but was mostly flat desert shrub with a few mountains sticking through. In the distance, when we could see the Rio Grande, there was some farming and closer to the road were pecan and pistachio trees.
We stopped at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center just to the east of Marfa Texas. The lights (which we did not see) are lights (likened to balls of light) that are seen rising above and traveling across the desert in the area. No one is sure what causes them, but the most scientific study reported suggests that they are just lights in the distance which appear as described because of the heat layers in the atmosphere — much like a mirage in the desert. Maybe we didn’t see any last night because it was and is just plain cold.
From reading the various plaques in the viewing area, we learned a number of facts — some astounding — about the small town of Marfa.
Marfa was originally founded as a water stop for the railroad. A number of large cattle ranches were founded just before the time of Texas statehood, 1845, which are still owned by the same families and intact today. From the viewing area which is in a large basin at 4000 feet, you can see the location of the highest cascade in Texas as well as the highest mountain (over 8000 feet). The first border patrol was started in this area in about 1850 to stem the tide of illegal immigrants. A school for pilots was run during WWII — the whole town turned out each month to celebrate the graduation of each class. There was also a German prisoner of war camp on the edge of town during WWII. (When I look around at the flat Chihuahuan Desert with rocky mountains sticking up in the distance, I can only imagine how the young German soldiers felt when they were brought here.)