Friday, January 11, 2019

G is For Grandeur - Big Bend Final

December 30-31, 2018
Terlingua, Texas

The last Sunday of the year is also the last game of the season for my Pittsburgh Steelers - but Bill's Cowboys are heading to the playoffs so it isn't all sad faces. The afternoon also brings us a couple hours of cold rain.

Monday is bright and sunny, but not warm. A perfect day to explore the rest of the national park. It's a fun day of fossils, daggers and stunning peaks.

We start the day at the same place we have every morning since we arrived - the single gas station in the area! There's always a line, but it moves quickly. You really need to fill-up before heading in any direction.

Down the road from our place is this amazing longhorn.

How does he hold his head up???

The self-sustaining building houses numerous casts of fossils and dinosaur bones found nearby.

He looks so happy!

Oh no!!

One of the largest triceratops (cast completed with pieces found in a riverbed inside the park) ever discovered.
After visiting the fossil exhibit, we take the Dagger Flat Road into the hills. Turns out the "dagger" reference is for all the yuccas and sotols covering the area. 

Lots and lots of daggers.

The thinner, serrated edges of the sotol in front of the wider, smoother yucca.

Pretty views.
The grandeur of the Chisos Mountains is visible from most of the park, today we drive into their unique beauty. We also find more people than we've seen anywhere else. And even a little snow on the sides of the road.

We've driven through an ocotillo forest, a yucca forest, and now pines and hard woods!

We find a quiet spot with no other people, and just quietly enjoy this incredible view.

On the way home we take a final road to Grapevine Hills. Several cars have parked in a cleared area, but we continue to the end where the rugged tent sites are all closed. 

Are you coming?

Chisos Mountains
It's already 4:00 so we decide to head straight for Terlingua where the Starlight Theater opens at 5:00 to start seating for New Years Eve dinner. We arrive at 4:30, and hang out on the famous front porch until we can put in our name. So glad we did! When they call us to our table a few minutes later, the wait time for dinner is already 1-2 hours!!

Built in the 1930's, the theater spent many roofless years after it was closed in the 1950's. The beautifully restored interior still shows signs of those "rough" times.

The porch is great for people watching before dinner.

Note the "not quite restored ceiling" over the bar.

A local specialty - the Sotol Margaritas (several of them) are fantastic!

DB Rouse entertains us from the large stage.

Scrumptious pork medallions.

Clay Henry the beer drinking goat who "served" as mayor for a few years. We sat with him when we moved from our table to the floor seating to enjoy the music.

One of Clay's deputies.

With clever kazoo-tunes like "Love is a Mexican Wrestling Match and I'm Gonna Win", and "Valentines Day at the Pawn Shop" how could we not have a wonderful New Years Eve!!
Happy 2019!
It's a great way to wrap up another wonderful year on the road!

We're so glad that Laurel (Raven and Chickadee) shared their fun times in this area, and that we decided to check it out!! I highly recommend Terlingua as the perfect place to enjoy the Big Bend area.

As 2019 begins, we'll head northwest to our coldest stop yet.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

I is for Inspiring - Big Bend Part Two

December 29, 2018
Terlingua, Texas

Photo overload warning!

Bill wins "said it first" this morning - Happy Anniversary to us! Family and friends check in all day, making it even more special.

It's cloudy and very cold when we head out for nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park. We expect to see more people here on this Saturday with the national park shutdown of services and campgrounds. The ranger at the small visitor center tells a couple hikers that they are "trying to accommodate as many as possible" which seems to support our expectation. 

The reality is that we see very few people, none of the campgrounds are full, and no one is out on the dirt roads. It means another wonderful day to ourselves in another beautiful place.

Foliage and geology compete for best color.

More beautiful views along the Rio Grande River.
Love this dark red arch over the monuments.

Interesting formations

The cliffs here look hand-scraped (by really big hands!).

A soft spot among all the heavy brush and rocky hills.

On loan from Utah.....

Small hoodoos along the river.
Whatever made these claw marks - I'm glad it's moved one!

A loop that becomes more of a sunburst, having to make several attempts to find and stay on the trail.

Petrified sand dunes.

Before you get close enough to see it's a cement mixer, this abandoned space craft is very interesting!

We get home with lots of "desert pinstriping".
Worth a few challenges to get here.
The long views at the top of the off-road loop are inspiring, even under the clouds. I have to turn around a couple times in large rocks and thick brush, but most of the return is easier to follow. Bill's good about how he pushes my comfort level. As evidenced by his still being alive - it's our anniversary after all :-)

A much steeper angle than this shows.
A thin (comparatively) layer of basalt peeks out above the slope.
We continue outside the park to the sad little border town of Presidio, Texas. Maybe 5% of the businesses remain open - strangely this includes a Payless Shoe Source. We enjoy some tasty tacos at the only eatery before returning to Terlingua. 

Only the fanciest places for our anniversary!
There's always new views to enjoy in the other direction!

I continue to mourn the potential loss of all this natural beauty should that stupid wall be approved.
It only looks like it's snowing, but it's still very cold!
The sun is setting when we tuck in at home. It was a great day. I highly recommend visiting the state park when you're here to see Big Bend. There are several hiking trails, campgrounds for smaller units, and a few 4x4 roads - something for everyone!

We wrap up 2018 and our time in Big Bend in the next post.

Before Uncle Jeff returned to Seattle after spending a year in SoCal, Ezra took his family to play in the snow.