But our final destination is a special camping spot overlooking Lake Meredith.
Our cousins Kent and Lynn have a full-hookup RV site beside their house overlooking the lake. They backed up their motor home so we could fit our rig beside the electric plug and we were set for the night!
We got a tour of their acreage overlooking the lake before a west Texas sunset lit up the sky. Then we went inside and had a wonderful meal and lots of good visiting.
This little piece of the Texas panhandle has a special resource not found anywhere else, and we're headed to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument to see it for ourselves. We called the visitor center to make a reservation for the ranger-led hike at 10:00. It involved a two-mile drive, and then a one-mile hike through these hills.
After a mile of mostly up-hill walking, the round common-looking stones turned into these jagged flint rocks.
We had never seen a big flint boulders before. This flint was better than gold to the Indians that lived on these plains hundreds of years ago. Flint is a very hard rock that can be shaped into arrowheads and spears for hunting. It will hold a razor-sharp edge that can be lethal. Before the days of metal, it was the best cutting edge available.
With mineral deposits that have added streaks of color in the stone, Alibates flint is also beautiful.
Most of the flint we are finding on the ground are pieces with cracks or impurities that make it unfit for fashioning it into a tool. The Indians from this area mined the best pieces, chipping it into a flat blank about the size of a deck of cards. That piece was then traded to other tribes for the beads or shells or pelts prevalent in other areas. Because of this trading process, this Alibates flint can be found among native American artifacts hundred of miles away.
We love it when our travels weave together stories. Last week we visited the Blackwater Draw Museum in Clovis, New Mexico, seeing hundreds of arrowheads made from the flint mined from the quarries where we are now standing. Similarly, a month ago we visited the Navajo National Monument and saw weapons made from this flint mine. We also read about the "Long Walk" of the Navajos, and then weeks later traveled to Bosque Redondo where the walk ended. It's like reading a history book with field trips that bring it all to life for us.
We are enjoying some fine weather for November. This snake was also enjoying the sunshine, even though he wasn't moving very fast on our trail. This little guy was less than two feet long, but he was centered on the trail to absorb as much warmth as possible.
We only had four people in our ranger-led tour of the flint quarries, and it was fun to exchange stories with the other two avid hikers. The ranger told us that it is fine to pick up and look at the flint on the national monument, but it is illegal to take any home. The area is very closely monitored with locked gates and rangers to preserve this piece of history for others to experience.
Again, we enjoyed a little-known national monument. Even though we are getting very close to where we lived most of our lives, we had never even heard of Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. Between the flint and family, it was a great stop for us in the Texas panhandle.