Wednesday, January 28, 2015

San Solomon Springs "A Desert Oasis" at Balmorhea State Park in west Texas

San Solomon Springs pool from diving board.Julianne G. Crane)
Situated about about seven miles south of I-10 on Hwy. 17 in west Texas, Balmorhea State Park is known as "A Desert Oasis" for its 77,053 square-foot San Solomon Springs pool. It is reported that 22 – 28 million gallons of water flow through the spring-fed swimming pool each day.

CCC digging the San Solomon Spring Pool (circle 1936)
The 45.9-acre Balmorhea State Park was constructed by Company 1856 of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1936 and 1941, according to the Texas State Parks web site. The CCC was established as a New Deal program by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression as a way to employ people who would have otherwise been out of work. (Click on images to enlarge.)

San Solomon Spring Pool 2014. (Julianne G. Crane)
Said to be the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool, covering 1.75 acres, its water stays at 72–76 degrees year round. The pool ranges from 3.5-feet to 25-feet at the deepest point. Scuba divers love the clarity, even at a 25-foot depth.

Scuba divers test the waters. Julianne G. Crane)
"With a capacity of more than 3.5 million gallons, the pool has plenty of room for swimmers, offering a unique setting for both scuba and skin diving."

"Other CCC structures in the park include a limestone concession building, two wooden bathhouses, an adobe superintendent residence and the San Solomon Springs Courts offer motel-style retro lodging. All of the CCC buildings are constructed in a Spanish Colonial style of adobe bricks with stucco exteriors and tile roofs."

Viewing platform along the canal. (Julianne G. Crane)
"In addition to swimming and camping, canals from the springs pool lead to a restored ciƩnega (wetland). San Solomon Springs is home to assorted invertebrates, turtles and endangered fish, including the "rare and declining" Headwater Catfish.

Young headwater catfish. (Julianne G. Crane)
"Found exclusively in spring-fed streams of the Pecos and Rio Grande basins, the headwater catfish prefers shallow runs like this canal where it finds shelter and food among rocks and aquatic vegetation. There are fewer headwater catfish today than in decades past due to habitat loss and hybridization with channel catfish. Balmorhea State Park remains one of the last strongholds of survival for this species," states a park information board.

Other animals seen in the park include resident and migrant birds, deer, javelina, hawks, barn swallows, waterfowl, ground squirrels and roadrunners.

For information on the Balmorhea State Park campground that features 34 campsites, click here for a post I wrote for RVWheelLife.com.

Balmorhea State Park
P.O. Box 15
Toyahvale, TX 79786

URL: Latitude: 30.944829
Longitude: -103.785147
URL: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/balmorhea
Fee: Swimmers pay only the $7 day use fee.

BTY: From Mon., May 4--Sun., May 10, 2015, San Solomon Springs pool will be closed for annual cleaning.

For more articles by Julianne G. Crane about RV lifestyle go to RVWheelLife.com.
Photos by Julianne G. Crane.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

See a giant-sized meteorite in Barstow, California

Trip Update: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2015

If you happen to be in Barstow, Calif., which is in the desert northeast of Los Angeles, you should stop by the California Desert Information Center to see the Old Woman Meteorite. It's the second largest meteorite ever found in the USA, weighing about three tons. It's mostly iron, which accounts for much of its weight. It came from the Asteroid Belt, which is located in an orbit around the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

There is no need for a burglar alarm on the rock because nobody could ever pick it up without going to lot of trouble. It look a huge effort by the U.S. Marines and a helicopter to lift it onto a truck to bring it to the museum, where it is a big attraction. Three prospector's found it in 1975 in the Old Woman Mountains in San Bernardino County. So that's how it got its name.

PART OF THE METEORITE was sawed off and taken away to be studied. But most of it is still here.

Chances are, this is the oldest thing you will ever see or touch in your life. It's not pretty. It's just a big rock. Still, it's impressive.

Now, your science lesson: All meteorites were once a meteor. They became a meteorite if they made it to the ground without vaporizing, as most do. Most meteorites are dust particles and weigh about .0005 ounces. So the Old Woman Meteorite is a biggie!

The largest meteorite ever found was in Africa and weighs 60 tons. The largest one in the United States, at 15 1/2 tons, landed in Oregon.

Admission to the see the Old Woman Meteorite is free. There are other things to see, too, plus a gift shop where you can buy some cool rocks, but no meteorites.