Day 4 (Click on photo to look at photos)

 

Today I had planned to drive down towards Presidio, so I was very happy to wake to a bright and clear early sunrise. Marfa looked splendid in the morning sun, and the drive south into the Chinati Mountain region was really nice.
All along the road I wondered whether to get out and explore, but the fencing was in good condition here, and there were many warning signs. So I carried on and just near the town of Shaffer, I found an area which seemed accessible and potentially interesting. As I climbed up the limestone shale side of a ridge, I could see some plants ahead. They were Escobaria tuberculosa, otherwise known locally as the corn-cob cactus because the lower spines often fall off and the stem looks like a dried corn cob. But there were more plants, and a goodly number of Ariocarpus fissuratus scattered all around. Once your eye becomes accustomed to their unusual shape and colour, they quickly become easy to spot. There were a number of other plants there, which included Ancistrocactus uncinatus v wrightii, Echinocactus horizonthalonius, and a seedling that might be Escobaria but doesn't look typical.

Onwards into Presidio, and out on the river road towards Lajitas, stopping at Fort Leaton and then at several places to photograph either the Rio Grande or other plants. Lajitas was interesting, a resort town with typical shops in a splendid boardwalk parade. A bit further along, I took a break at Terlingua Ghost Town to hike off into the hills behind the town, up past a huge billboard and beyond. There were lots of great plants, as the photos show, Mammillaria lasiacantha, Epithelantha bokei and possibly micromeris as well, Mammillaria pottsii, Escobarias, Echinocerei, Ancistrocacti, and of course the ubiquitous Ariocarpi. And some great views - I just sat down and looked at the light on the mountains for ages - what a great way to pass some time.
On the way back to Alpine, as the sun was setting the sky was absolutely fantastic. I stopped the car and took a couple of photos, one of which is included in the selection for the day. The cloud pattern was spectacular, and did make me wonder what might be in store weatherwise in the next couple of days.