Big Bend 2022

Tom and I were determined to go to Big Bend. It takes 6-7 hours to drive there so we planned on a couple of days' driving, a couple of days' hiking, a couple of days sight-seeing, a day floating on the river and a day in a Jeep.



We were setting off on a 500-mile journey so the first requirement was coffee with a little breakfast thrown in



We stopped briefly at the Seminole Canyon State Park. We would be seeing Ocotillo plants for the next week. They are strange because they do not have leaves - they get nourishment through green veins in their stems



The next stop was at Judge Roy Bean's Courthouse - one of the famous Texas stories involving his love for Lilly Langtry



Finally - we arrived. We christened this the Motel Five and a Half



This is the view that greeted us each morning for the next five days and each evening when we brought our (uncomfortable) chairs on to the sidewalk to watch the sun go down.



One of the beauties of Big Bend is the bird population. Dozens of species, most of which a San Antonian would not have seen before



The next day we walked the trail "Window". It starts in the Chisos Basin which is a high point and follows a river down to a narrow slit through which the river pours to the desert hundreds of feet below.The trail descends several hundred feet with beautiful views.



As we approach the Window the trail gets much narrower and gets into the river bed.



A little further and the CCC, who built the trail in the '30s, kindly provided steps built into the rock for people who didn't bring ropes.



Finally we see the Window. The shine on the rocks is due to constant polishing of the river and is very slippery. But what is beyond? By sliding down the slide to the edge of the shadow the view extends. Hold your breath because remember that the river plunges hundreds of feet to the desert floor.



The final picture



We take a deep breath and start to walk out. There seem to be three times as many steps as walking down and the temperature went up at least ten degrees. But the views are spectacular.



The third day we take a canoe trip with Far Flung Adventures. It is advertised as a full-day "adventure" through "hot springs canyon". I couldn't find that particular canyon on the map but we went.



The canyon was less than spectacular - but with minimal river levels it was about the best available



We enjoyed a hike to look down on the Hot Springs…



…There are about 50 times too many people there.



This is what the Hot Springs really looks like and…



here is the history of them



We continued down the river viewing the exotic animals and ended a trip that was reasonably interesting



Finally we got home to view the scenery



The next day we signed up for an all-day jeep trip. There were four passengers which was just about right for the size of the jeep.



We started off by looking at the only stuff available for the firat hour - ocotillo…



…and lots of cactus.



We got into some history - the old farmer guy. Farming was feasible back in the olden days when there was a little water in the river before New Mexico built all their dams and used the water for irrigation up there. As a special privilege, he was the only one permtitted to live in the Park when it was formed in the '30s.



More history. This is (was) a good size village down by the river



Santa Elena Canyon. We walked down to the river. I mean the stream. A small branch had been thrown over the river so kids could walk over to Mexico without getting their feet wet.



We passed a well designed rest area.



The Mule Ears. These were a constant chorus whenever we saw the Chisos mountains, which was every day. They normally peeked over other mountains with just the tips showing



That night we ate at the Starlight Theater.We had tried twice before but had been put off because there was a huge line. This time we were DETERMINED to eat there so we put our names on the list and smiled very nicely at the girl-attendant. We got in a few minutes later when two places at the bar were vacated.



It truly was a theater with a stage, two levels of seating and entertainment all evening. The food was pretty good as well.



The next day we begin the trek home. First stop is in Marfa which has a reputation for far-out art. The courthouse is impressive and definitely not a far-out design. Tempted,…



We went inside and climbed to the very top to check out the City.



El Paisano is a luxury hotel that is famous for hosting the film Giant. The room rate was only $10 more than the Motel Five and a Half so we checked in. The place is full of pictures of James Dean, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and others. But a very nice hotel.



Its courtyard was pleasantly shady and cool and, surprisingly, open to anyone who wanted to come in.



We toured the art scene which had lots of galleries (open by appointment) and a couple of artist hangouts. "Come and be creative and live in our commune". One artist was from England and created a piece based on the Nine Ladies Stone Circle in Derbyshire..



He imported nine rocks (just like they did as Stonehenge) but added a solar generator, wires and loudspeakers. Every full moon the rocks come alive with noises.



Our next (and last) stop was Fort Davis. First we visited the Fort



A considerable amount of reconstruction has occurred



Next visit was the McDonald Observatory. The main exhibit was closed unfortunately but we got to peek into one of the units.



We were very proud that we had ascended to the highest point on Texas roads



Back in town we got rooms at a drug store. It was complete with a soda fountain, stuff for sale and a reasonable restaurant. There were six bedrooms on the floor above. My room had a whole wall devoted to a mural of Mule Ears which had been haunting us all through Big Bend



The end came the next day as we saddled up for a long trip. We briefly visited Balmorhea - a beautiful, unexpected oasis - then the pleasures of IH-10. In all, 1467 miles.

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