Summer vacations in Far West Texas

There’s a good chance you’re reading this after I’ve tearfully sent the last of my visiting family back to their faraway homes after nearly a week of experiencing far West Texas for the first time.

When my sister, Casey, who lives in League City south of Houston, told me that they were heading to Fort Davis for summer vacation this year, I was elated. We haven’t been in the same room in almost four years. I immediately called my grown daughter in Boerne and told her, and she managed to schedule her vacation days for the same time.

Between Saturday afternoon and midnight, my people arrived in Fort Davis, seven of eight of them for the very first time.

At Big Bend Brewing Company’s tap room with the family.

I made a list of Must Do things… and scratched a few scenic drives off the list to stay out of the firefighters’ way on Highway 166 and the Scenic Loop. The heat had me scratch off the River Road and Terlingua trip (June is simply too hot to do many outdoorsy things, in my opinion). No swimming in the Balmorhea pool since it’s closed for the summer.

The kids spent time balancing rocks and playing ball in the large front yard of the historic home they were staying in… you know, the simple things kids don’t normally do in the city when they’re running between school and sports and band practice?

While they hiked the Davis Mountains State Park, I stayed home to bake a birthday cake for my daughter who turned 21 last week.

Traditionally, my mom always baked a lemon pound cake for my daughter whenever we visited her because lemon cake was my girl’s favorite growing up, and so Lainey’s birthday cake had to be lemon pound cake. It was so wonderful to celebrate my daughter, surrounded by family, in Fort Davis.

After birthday cake and presents, we all headed down to Pizza Foundation in Marfa and filled up before going to see the Marfa Lights.

Marfa Pizza Foundation was deelish as usual… be sure and call ahead!

Me and my niece Tessa ❤️

I’ve been to see the lights twice, and have seen the lights twice. I loved watching my daughter sit with her boyfriend, their eyes glued to the hills, watching the Lights appear and disappear with eager anticipation tinged with awe.

We watched the Lights for quite a distance on our drive home, as you can see them from the highway when you know what to look for.

These photos are from last summer, but the Lights are really real!!!

One day, sister and her crew explored Alpine’s food truck scene and thoroughly enjoyed their Cuban sandwiches from the Smokin’ Cuban and assortment of goodies from Tri La Bite.

While they were food truckin’, my daughter, her boyfriend and I went to the Fort Davis National Historic Site, and ended up hiking a couple of the trails that took us to the top of town.

I always think I’m in decent physical shape until I go for a hike and contemplate getting helicoptered back down before we even reach the destination. It was a tough hike, but the view from the lookout over the Fort was spectacular.

A visit to the tap room at Big Bend Brewing Company, day and night trips up to the Observatory, shopping in Fort Davis and Alpine, lunches and milkshakes at the Drugstore, lots of trips to Stone Village Market, dinner at the Blue Mountain Bistro under the canopy of trees, and sitting on the front porch enjoying the cool mountain breeze were just a few ways we spent time together. I have so many photos that I can’t stop looking at.

Hearing, “I can’t believe this weather – you can’t sit outside like this in June in Houston!”, and watching them take in the beauty of the area that we enjoy every day was wonderful.

They’re all already planning to return for long-weekends when it cools off a little more so that they can do more of the things that were on my Must Do List.

I loved getting to show off far West Texas to my family and watch them experience it with fresh eyes.

My heart is so full, and not just because they brought me bacon, shrimp and our favorite salsa from the other side of Texas.

Lainey’s Lemon Poundcake

(Just like Mom used to make)

1 box Duncan Hines lemon supreme cake mix

1 box lemon flavor instant pudding and pie filling (3.4 oz.)

4 large eggs

1 cup water

1⁄3 cup oil

For the glaze:

2 cups confectioners sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease bundt pan.

Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Pour into pan.

Bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Invert onto heat resistant serving plate. Cool completely.

For glaze, place confectioners sugar in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup; stir in lemon juice (glaze should be thick, yet pourable). Add more sugar or lemon juice, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over cake.

Printed with permission of The Alpine Avalanche

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