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La Vista RV Park
Alpine, Texas
Norman W. Hildrum

View of campsites and scenic vista - Photo by Norman HildrumLa Vista RV Park is a small private development with just 14 sites. While the sites are somewhat closely spaced, we were in an end space and had a great view of high desert valley. The park is only 6 1/2 miles south of Alpine, Texas. The campground has gravel roads and each site has full hook-ups including telephone access. Because there are no showers or restrooms, this development is for self contained RV's only. Fees are $14.00 per night, $70.00 per week, or $200.00 per month. La Vista can serve as a base for visits to other attractions in the area including Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, Big Bend National Park, and the strange Marfa Mystery Lights.

One must see attraction is McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis. On our visit, we arrived at McDonald Observatory between 2:00 and 3:00 PM. We were able to view the McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, Texas - Photo by Norman HildrumSun, then take a guided tour, and finally, attend the evening Star Party. Total cost of tickets for the two of us was $14.00. The solar viewing was very interesting. We could see a sun spot that was larger than the earth. We also saw several solar prominences which rose between 50 and 60 thousand miles from the surface. The guided tour gave us an in-depth look at the 107 inch Harlan J. Smith Reflecting Telescope. This facility is best known for its work in determining the distance from the Earth to the Moon. They used laser beams bounced off reflectors placed on the Moon by several Apollo missions. The laser application allowed scientists to measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon to within several feet.

Limpia Hotel, Fort Davis, Texas - Photo by Norman HildrumAfter the guided tour and our shopping spree in the observatory gift shop, we drove into Fort Davis (15 miles) for dinner. We decided to have dinner at the Limpia Hotel Dining Room. Fort Davis is in Jefferson Davis County which is dry. In order to buy a drink there, you have to be a member of Sutter's Club. The cost for a temporary membership was $3.00. We stopped at the "club" for a before dinner drink and then went downstairs for dinner. Our bartender had recommended having the Chicken fried tenderloin and chicken fried chicken. We took her recommendations because she pointed out "Everything in West Texas is fried ."

The dinner was so good that we decided to buy the hotel cook book. The Hotel Limpia was built in 1884 and was named after Limpia Creek. In Spanish, Limpia means clear or Sunset at La Vista - Photo by Norman Hildrumclean water. The hotel originally served a clientele looking for cooler summer getaways. This area was perfect.

After dinner, we returned to McDonald for the Star Party. We heard a very interesting talk on the night sky and a number of the constellations including Taurus, Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Cassiopeia. We also found the brightest star in the sky (Sirius) in the constellation Canis Major. We had a great time!

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