Getting Wet In The Desert.
When I got to Balmorhea Springs I walked into the pool area and took a look at a really magnificent fresh water pool. Clean, crisp water fed in from an underground spring. The pool is huge and goes to a depth of 25 feet. Catfish swim lazily along the bottom. As do black puffers. And schools of little Mexican tetras zip along and try, enthusiastically but unsuccessfully, to nip at your with their tiny mouths. But there were no swimmers. The only public swimming pool for miles and miles in any direction and not other swimmers! Eventually a tourist came. Looked at the pool and floated around for a bit before getting out, drying off and heading out for some other adventure.
I put on a swim suit, grabbed a pair of goggles out of my swim bag and hoped into the pool to swim some laps and spend some time unwinding from my manic drive. And the surprisingly good latte from McDonald's a couple hundred miles back in Junction.
The water was a pleasant 72 degrees. No lifeguards on duty. No teenagers doing cannonballs from the edge.
After a bit I got out and dried off and started taking images for my "project". I used all three cameras in a short period. I started with a Canon G10. No matter how good the new EP-2 and its compact cousins are I just can't give up the G10 yet. It charms by its industrial design and it's huge and detailed files. It's the camera to have if you can have only one and you're not allowed to have lenses. Thankfully, there are no rules like that so you can have any dang camera you want.
I was amazed at the pool. So clean and clear. So unused. The things that make it endearing are the archaic touches light the design of the railings. And the wonderful signs warning against diving in shallow water.
I started out using the G10 and it was good but I segued into using the EP-2 and, in fact, that camera and the humble kit lens account for 85% of all the photos I took on my trip. The ability to do instant visualizations in the near perfect EVF adds something magical to the process. It's fun to see, in real time, how the shift of exposure or the change of a color temperature setting will affect the image before you even trip the shutter.
I shot a lot in the afternoon sun and then left to search out the ONLY restaurant in all of Balmorhea. Don't like Mexican food? I can only suggest that you consider driving the 40 minutes to Ft. Davis if you crave some variety.......
After dinner I came back to see how the light looked. I stayed shooting until the sun tucked under the collaring mountains and the last of the light was extinguished.
At one point a motley crew of scuba divers showed up and spent some time lurking on the bottom. They seemed to have the same sort of "gear nut" mentality that photographers sometimes evince. They talked about their tanks and their regulators and how cool their neoprene suits were. I could tell that the whole process tickled them and made them happy. One college couple came and walked around the pool making art of each other with their shared point and shoot camera.
After the pool closed I walked back to camping space number 19 and got my bed ready. I flipped up the back seat and spread out my orange sleeping bag. Then I started a small campfire in the little cinder block circle next to the campsite. I sat cross-legged and drank a glass (styro cup) of red wine and watched the giant white stars pulsing against a nearly jet black sky. The fire burned down to white dusted red embers and the wind picked up. As soon as the sun went down the temperature dropped like a rock. I wrapped up in a sweat shirt and a parka shell and finally got up, kicked dirt over the last of the embers and went to sleep. The wind picked up and, at times, rocked the car. When I woke up in the morning every breathe I exhaled made white clouds of steam even inside the car. Damn it was cold....
That's it for day one. More to come.