Thursday, January 3, 2019

B is for Beautiful - Big Bend Part One

December 26-28, 2018
Terlingua, Texas

Wednesday's drive is beautiful with the last 25 miles through the national park. As expected, signs for the government shutdown greet us.

An email and voice message told me this morning that the Study-Butte RV Park owners are out of town and that we're in Space 2. It's very tight, but we make it work. Level dirt with 50 amp FHUs, and consistent WiFi all week. Dark and quiet, no picnic tables or fire rings. Showers and laundry, but the office is never open even when the owners return. Check or cash only. The park is full nearly every night. Glad I got reservations!

When we grab some tacos at the local gas station (don't judge, they're really good) we overhear that tourists are trashing the park because the restrooms are closed. As it turns out, we see zero trash the whole time we're in the park and the restrooms are all still open. Good reminder that people speak, but don't always know.

The iconic view of Big Bend National Park is where the Rio Grande passes through Santa Elena Canyon - and it's the only place in the park that's closed. Oh well, next time.


Santa Elena Canyon from the overlook.
Wonderful contrast of colors and textures along the banks of the Rio Grande.
There are so many layers here, and on a clear, sunny day you can see lots of them.

Tiny mesa.
Castolon Station and Historic District



We pick up River Road at Cottonwood Campground (closed), a four-wheel-drive road that we'll take down to the river and back. Instead we turn left and end up deep into the park. 70 miles later we get back on the highway at Rio Grande Village Campground (partial closed), with another 50 miles to home. It's a wonderful and fun adventure, but pack a lunch if you're going to do it :-)


A perfect day to go topless.

Looking like snow, the petrified dunes glow in the sun.

Layers on Castellan Peak tell the story of floods and ash.

A small slit in Santa Elena Canyon in the distance.

During this visit it's hard to look at the beauty with the threat of a massive wall destroying it. The Rio Grande would be lost to Mexico.
Shapes and layers

A constantly changing view.



We've never seen these formations before!



Feeling like we're being watched.....
Golden grasslands

By the end of the drive these cliffs are looking like layer cake!
Next day we're back in the park to see the rest of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. There are more people here today, but still plenty of parking at each of the stops. 

There is a Weeping Woman near our old home and Bill finds this similar formation along the park's highway. 

Several Yucca in bloom

A pop of color along the wash.
Long views from Sotol Vista 


Native Americans roasted the bulbs of the Sotol for food. On New Year's Eve we'll enjoy Sotol margaritas :-)
Every turn grabs your eye.


Entrance to Lost Burro Mesa Pouroff



Our exploring is cut short when Tessa is bit (stung?) between her toes by a large red ant. Her foot is tucked up tight against her belly and shaking almost immediately. By the time we're in the Jeep she's crying loudly. It's so hard to hear her in pain!! Bill finds a vet in Terlingua who suggests Benadryl, but I'm taking her in to see him. I might have broken a speed limit or two to arrive in 30 minutes. A quick injection in her vein and she's feeling better quickly. Yay!! Unfortunately he doesn't have Xanax for me....

Instead of returning to the park we check out Terlingua Ghost Town and stop for lunch at the High Sierra. Terlingua is the home of the famous chili cookoff, and the chili here is fabulous.

New added to old for little AirBnBs.


Fixer-upper.

Locals expressing their opinion. Other signs are not so subtle.

Terlingua is a mix of building up and tearing down.
We will return to this bustling metropolis for New Year's Eve - but that's for another post.



22 comments:

  1. So agree I just cannot comprehend placing the 'Wall' within a National Park. You have managed to do so much even with the current government funding. Hope next year it'll be our turn to enjoy the sights of Big Bend

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    1. I hope you can get there - it is so beautiful!! Hopefully we'll never allow a wall to take it away from us.

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  2. Big Bend is so big, it requires multiple posts! It took me three. :)

    Poor Tessa. :(

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    1. I'm thinking that's what it will take me!! We sure liked all of it.

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  3. Poor Tessa, makes me cry! As I said, we loved Big Bend, we did most of our touring on our motorcycle, the Cowboy driving with his broken ankle in an air cast! Glad Tessa recovered quickly!

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    1. That sounds like quite the adventure!! I'm glad we had the warmth of the Jeep for our visit. Tessa was pretty pitiful. I'm not sure she's ever been in pain before!

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  4. "B" is for beautiful is right—Big Bend is so gorgeous, far beyond what we anticipated. I'm so glad you loved it, and so glad that funky little Study Butte RV Park worked out for you. Your beautiful photos make me want to return! STOP the wall—indeed. What a travesty and a waste of resources.

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    1. Spending so many days along the Rio Grande, and realizing all those views would be destroyed and we would essentially lose the river, it was hard not to get really angry about the potential for that damn wall :-( Big Bend was so much more than we envisioned, and I'm so glad I read your post to get us down here!

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  5. I love Castellan Peak and all those different layers and shades. So cool! We really do have to get to Big Bend. Love the fixer upper...maybe for Janna and Michael!! So sorry to hear Fluffy Dog was hurting. Red ant bites really sting and swell. Glad there was some help kind of near by.

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    1. We agree Big Bend is a place you two must venture to - it has so many things you'll love! What a great idea for Janna and Michael :-))))

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  6. Oh poor Tessa and poor you. Glad Terlingua is large enough to have a vet. My niece has an off grid b&b near there. It's pretty amazing. Can't believe you were at a national park during the stupid shut down. What's the chance of that? And what part of no wall don't they understand? If the folks who live there don't want it why? Your pictures are fabulous! So glad you could see it despite the stupidity. Since I always stay inside the parks. I'd have been in a fix. Happened to us in Assateague during the last shut down. We had to leave, they closed the whole park Campground refunds but no where to go. Glad to hear the trashed parks is fake news. Seems all the media is guilty this time.

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    1. I was so grateful to Sam the vet!! Not our first shutdown but our first national park during one. It had little impact on us except for Saint Elena Canyon (having restrooms open was a nice surprise). There are some wonderful and unique B&Bs near Terlingua so I'm sure your niece's is doing well.

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  7. Those fire ants do cause quite a bit of pain. So glad she was soon feeling better. One day we'll get back there with a vehicle that can go on the 4x4 roads.

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    1. We are constantly happy we have the Jeep! I was so relieved the vet could give her quick relief.

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  8. Such a beautiful park and your pictures are wonderful. We were headed there but weren’t sure about the campgrounds!! I’m so sorry that
    Your fur baby did not have a good experience.
    Did you find any boondocking spots while you were there? We are a 45’ 5th and want to go off grid for a few days.

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    1. Most of Texas is owned by big ranches so we didn't see any boondocking options anywhere. We will definitely be watching for red ants from now on!

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  9. Layer Cake :-) You must've been hungry... I'm glad Tessa is doing better!

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  10. Big Bend Ranch State Park just west of Big Bend NP is a must-do if you're in the area. The road along the river from Lajitas to Presidio is just amazing. There are some undeveloped camping spots in the SP, as well as three developed areas along the river. Most of the undeveloped areas are hard to get to in an RV, though.

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    1. Agree! We went there in the middle of our stay (next post) and agree that drive is amazing. Found a spot that was hard to get out of in the Jeep too :-)

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  11. I am glad to hear the park isn't being trashed. I'm afraid 45 would do more damage with his wall. This is a fascinating landscape, so much diversity, erosion, and color. I'm surprised, and happy, there was a vet in Terlingua where friends of mine once lived.

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    1. The wall would decimate the national park, give the river to Mexico, and forever alter the natural habitat. It would probably close the state park because the only place to build it in some places would be the single highway through it :-( Dr Sam was our hero!!

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