Breathing in Fort Davis

FTdavis-01I love history.

I don’t know if I’d call myself a history buff… But I’d definitely rank my love of the past higher than the average person. My favorite vacation from my childhood was actually a trip to Gettysburg.

How many kids would list a preserved battlefield over the beach or theme parks?

So, I when I pulled into Historic Fort Davis, Texas and saw what lay before me… I was nerding out just a wee bit. I think I took more pictures there, than anyplace else on my trip.

Marin just loves all my picture taking by the way.FTdavis-02Now I may be wrong, but I think a lot of  folk’s dislike of “history” stems from the boring way in which it was presented to them as kids. Who wants to memorize a long list of names, dates and places? Pretty much nobody I’d wager.

But how many kids and adults would enjoy hearing the tale of Teddy Roosevelt building a new boat, to chase thieves down a freezing river, during  a blizzard, because they’d stolen a different boat he’d built previously?

That’s way more fun than, “Theodore Roosevelt served as a deputy sheriff for Billings county North Dakota in 1886.” ZZZZzzzzz….FTdavis-19I mean it’s factual and important knowledge. But a  history is more than just a list of dates and places. History is the story of real people with real emotions and motives. The little details of their stories is what makes history great.

I mean my story could be watered down to, “Nicholas was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2016 and received a bilateral lung transplant in 2018.”

How boring does that make my experience sound? Its factually true… but dull as can be.

The speed at which my I.P.F progressed. The amount of oxygen I was using. Being put on an E.C.M.O machine. All the hard working medical professionals that kept me alive… that is what I experienced.FTdavis-18The little details of your life, those are what make your story interesting and worth living. Your illness is just one of many facts that make up your life… and you are so much more than just your illness.

It’s your choose how you deal with your illness. This disease may limit the direction in which our story goes, but all stories have hardships and barriers of some kind. We still get to fill in the intricate little details of our lives.

Those little details are what make peoples lives interesting and what makes history amazing to me.FTdavis-05Imagining the events that took place, the way people lived their lives.. How would I have fit in? How did this placed get its named? Are the kind of thoughts that excite me when visiting a historic place.

Fort Davis for example was established in 1854 and was named after the then secretary of war, Jefferson Davis. Yes… eventual president of the confederacy Jefferson Davis.

Then after the civil war it was protected and frequently inhabited by cavalry units such as the 9th and 10th U.S cavalry.

“Uh… so what?” you might be asking. But you see those were newly formed buffalo soldier regiments.

Who could have know when this fort was named… the person it was named after would become the leader of the slave states or that freed slaves would eventually serve there as soldiers?FTdavis-06When you first pull in there is plenty of parking, including RV and Bus spots. I took a bus spot because it was close to an open area where I could let the puppy go potty.

There are plenty of trash can’s around the parking area to pitch trash in. But I don’t recall seeing any once I was walking around the fort… going for historical accuracy maybe.FTdavis-07Your first order of business, unless you feel like having a picnic at the row of picnic tables by the parking lot, is to head over to the site’s visitor’s center. There you can pay an entry fee and get a map of the fort.

However, if you have one of the national parks disability passes, which I suggest you look into, the entrance fee is waved. Obviously I’d rather not have a disability, but the pass is a really nice and I’m appreciative.FTdavis-08In the visitors center is a nice little souvenir area. Lots of kids stuff there, but also books and mugs, other  types of things one might want to buy.

Past the help desk/register is a little museum that is worth a walk through. Its not a huge open space, but the floor is nice and level. So there shouldn’t be any problem getting around with oxygen tanks or with a rollator.FTdavis-09There is quite abit about the forts military history, but there s just as much information about everyday life for the forts inhabitants. Both military personal as well as their families.

The are rifles and pistols and uniforms, but there are also children’s toys, sewing kits, and native American kachina dolls. There also a few interactive displays, like a morse code puzzle if you’ve got little ones with you.FTdavis-10Walking around outside, for the most part, is all on pretty level ground. There is a little bit of an incline towards the back of the parade grounds and a little bit of a hill up to the hospital. But nothing to terrible.

Their is a hiking trail that cuts over the rocky hills and through a slightly wooded area that joins the historic fort site to an adjacent RV park. But it is  a bit more challenging. It’s nothing extreme, but it doesn’t have to be when you’ve got a lung disease.FTdavis-11If you take your time and brought enough oxygen… Which please. Know your limits before heading out and exploring places. Then walking around Fort Davis should be relatively simple for you.

There are not a whole lot of places to sit and rest, but there are several benches and most of the building have steps that can be used to rest a moment on.FTdavis-12Which the steps are kind of there own issue. There are not a ton of them, but quite a bit of the history to be seen is in the buildings and not all of them are handicap accessible.

If you’re pulling O2 on a cart or if you are using a rollator, the steps might hamper your getting inside. If you’re in a wheel chair and are unable to to walk for short intervals then you may have to pass on a few of buildings.FTdavis-13Don’t let that stop you though! If you have a nice wheelchair that does good on packed dirt, portable O2, and were  planning to be in the area… then I think spending a few hours letting your imagination carry you into the past is worth the effort.

We spend so much time worrying about our fibrosis and what might happen next. Don’t let your illness prevent your from enjoying your imagination every once in awhile too.FTdavis-14It’s not possible to enter all of the buildings and none of them actually let you walk around the rooms with artifacts. Mostly you’ll be looking through glass covered doors. But it is still neat to see.

Personally my favorite place at the fort was the hospital. Maybe because of my own experiences of being in the hospital. I found it interesting to stand in a place where there used to be the hustle and bustle of saving lives.FTdavis-15Though I’m not even sure if “interesting” is the right word to describe my emotions… I’m sure most people probably just walk through it and say, “Oh that’s interesting.”

Though in a way it felt as if I had a stronger connection to the past there. Seeing the treatments available, the tools used, standing next to were operations were performed… knowing that back then I wouldn’t have stood a chance. Made it feel more real.FTdavis-16I spent a lot longer at Fort Davis than most people probably do. Like I said I was geeking out a bit.

But I would say that if your are on a relatively low amount of liters per minute or are post transplant… you could probably see everything in a couple of hours.

If you’re slow going and in need of lots of rest. It’ll probably take 3 hours to see everything. Though if you are having a hard time or running low on oxygen, there’s no shame and skipping out on seeing everything.FTdavis-17In the end… I really enjoyed visiting Fort Davis and would recommend it to others who enjoy history or just a scenic walk. If I find myself back in that part of the world I will differently take another stroll there.

Texas is a beautiful place and I am so thankful that I’ve had the chance to explore a little bit. I think it been a nice little addition to my own history.FTdavis-20


2 thoughts on “Breathing in Fort Davis

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  1. Yes. Very interesting. Would love to visit more historical sites around the US. Right now I am on the lung transplant list and have to remain close to the hospital to get their quickly when appropriate lung(s) become available to me. Already had one false alarm when we lived over 3 hours from hospital. We have now moved to within 15 minutes of Hospital here in Michigan.

    I do plan to travel again once I get my second chance at life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I eventually got sick enough that I had to move in with family. Thankfully they lived just half an hour from the hospital. If your hospital is like mine then they will have you stay within 3-4 hours driving distance for the first year after transplant. But there is a lot to see even that close. Hope you are able to go adventuring soon.


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