Day 1, start in Houston with a destination of Del Rio via US 90A from San Antonio. Note the charming, clean presence of Castroville (settled by Alsace immigrants in 1854) as you pass through shortly after leaving San Antonio. Castroville is at the southern part of the Hill Country – once you leave the town, you aren’t far from what’s called the Big Bend Country. But first you pass through Uvalde, home of Dolph Briscoe, and drive through the confluence of Hwy.83 (north/south from Canada to Mexico) and Hwy.90A (east/west from Florida to California) right in the middle of Uvalde. The terrain becomes less hilly, less green and more rugged as one approaches Del Rio. Destination is finally reached by 3:30pm – the main item on the agenda is to visit the oldest bonded winery in the state of Texas, Val Verde Winery (established 1883 by an Italian immigrant & still in the same family) = 351 miles.
Day 2, start the engine and hit the road, Fort Davis waits. About an hour from Del Rio a Langtry sign appears. Established in 1881, it was the home of the notorious Judge Roy Bean, the “Law West of the Pecos”, and is now a state park. Both the saloon and one room home bear witness to a time much harsher than today. To me, it is also a testament to the fortitude and ingenuity of those who forged our heritage. Back in the cool comfort of our car, we continue west. We stopped in Marathon to look at the Gage Hotel, a two story adobe brick with original pine floors and woodwork built in 1927, now a resort in the dessert. An oasis! (Photo at bottom of article.) Marathon was once a hub of cattle and mining. One more stop in Alpine for lunch and we make it to Fort Davis around 3:30 = 223 miles.
Day 3, wake and think about breakfast after enjoying a comfy night in one of Hotel Limpia’s suites. The hotel, on the “square” in Fort Davis, was built in 1912 and attracted guests with advertising relaxing summers in cooler air. Yes, the nights were definitely cooler and the air dryer, but the days were not cool! Visit the Jeff Davis County Library housed in an “old” mercantile building on the square. Again, though, start that engine and drive over to Fort Davis State Park. The Indian Lodge, nestled in the hills of the park, is a stunning example of white adobe architecture. The lodge was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Much of the land in the state park has been devastated by wildfires, yet the landscape remains haunting and magnificent. Leave the State Park and take the scenic drive through the mountains, up to McDonald Observatory, through more mountains, past ranches and back down to Marfa. Walk through the El Paisano hotel (base of operation for the cast/crew of Giant while filming in the area in 1955). The hotel opened in 1930 and served as a central meeting place for ranchers in the area for 40 years. Its ceramic tile floors, graceful archways and verandas welcome the weary traveler. Return to Fort Davis = 120 miles
Day 4, check out of Hotel Limpia, stop for breakfast at The Indian Lodge. Travel via more scenic route to Balmorhea – take a peek at one of the largest swimming pools in the U.S. (with a 77,000 sq. foot surface) – built by the CCC and fed by a natural spring, it is a definite oasis in the dessert. Connect to I 10, head east – homeward bound. Take a detour off of I 10 and head toward Iraan to view the wind machine field (although the one near Snyder, TX is larger). Iraan was the center of an oil field discovery in 1928 – the company producing this oil became known as Marathon. Miss your turn and head on Hwy.90A east to Eldorado, turn north to Christoval and stop at a new winery there. After enjoying a bit of a respite, get back on the road. Drive to Boerne for the night’s stop = 327 miles.
Day 5, check out of hotel after a leisurely morning and head up to Sisterdale, about 12 miles north of Boerne. Stop at Sister Creek Winery, housed in an 1885 cotton gin. The gin went out of business during the boll weevil attack and was “repurposed” 23 years ago into a winery. After leaving Sisterdale, circle back toward Comfort and visit two wineries in that charming town. Nearly every building in this small town off of I 10 has historic markers. Have lunch and get on the road back to Houston, back to a more contemporary life style. Arrive home 4.5 hours and a 30 mile traffic jam later = 266 miles.