2023-07-04 Gage Gardens, Marathon TX

Vermilion Flycatcher - Pyrocephalus rubinus
In the middle of the small West Texas town of Marathon, is a lovely park called Gage Gardens. I find it an irresistible place to visit whenever I pass through the region.

Tuesday morning I broke camp early at the rest area 20 miles east of Marathon Texas. I drove to town and had breakfast at the Oasis Cafe. Marathon has a population of just over 400. It is one of the two gateways to Big Bend National Park. (The other is Alpine, 50 miles to the west.) The town occupies a little over five square miles of territory. Aside from tourists visiting Big Bend, there is the historic Gage Hotel worth mentioning. Built in 1927, it has been a bastion of luxury enjoyed by west Texas ranchers and businessmen ever since. 

My favorite destination in Marathon is a location in the center of town called Gage Gardens. With 26 acres of trees, flowers, lawns, shrubs and water features, it attracts a variety of bird species that change with the seasons. I wanted to visit before continuing west. I paid a morning visit there after breakfast. With the high temperatures torturing most life forms these days, early mornings are the only hours sane folks can attend these gardens.

During my visit, I shared the grounds with young families and old fogies like myself. Some folks were interested in bird-life. Some seemed to be satisfied basking in the serenity provided by these well-groomed grounds. And some came to play games on the lush lawns. With 26 acres to wander, it never felt crowded.

It did not take long before the day warmed up. By finding shady places to sit, I could extend my time enjoying the birds I found that day. There were flycatchers, vireos, tanagers, finches, grackles, and orioles teasing me with glimpses. Some of them lingered longer than others. When I first visited these gardens in the spring of 2020, there were tons of Inca Doves scattered through the grounds. I have not seen them here since.

Only two hours away, my next camp awaited. So after my morning at Gage Gardens, I drove to Davis Mountains State Park and spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights camped at space #38. I will save that story for the next installment of my four-month adventure.

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