Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Big Bending

This past weekend, I journeyed far into West Texas, a distance that in New England would take you through several states, to Big Bend National Park (which is itself the size of Rhode Island, apparently). It's safe to say that the majority of the people reading this were also on this trip, but since we all have slightly different photos of the same majestic rock formations, it's still nice to record the trip. Also, for posterity. This blog is nothing if not about recording things for posterity.

On our way to the park, we stopped in Marfa, Texas, best known for the mysterious Marfa lights and Prada Marfa, neither of which we actually saw. It has blossomed into an artsy community in its own right complete with hipster bookstores, excellent lunch places, artisan soap makers, and galleries. We tried to go to the Chinati Foundation, but apparently it is only open by guided tour which only happen once or twice a day. We settled for walking around the one exhibit you could see self guided which was a large series of cement boxes. A book on Marfa (acquired at the aforementioned hipster bookstore) said the name came from a servant in The Brother's Karamazov, but this dude believes that they got the wrong Russian novel, and it's actually from a Jules Verne book that's set in Russia. The world may never know.

A nice summation of our trip to Marfa. 

Leaving Marfa, we arrived at our little casitas at the excellent Far Flung Outdoors Center (they don't pay me to say such things, although this blog would totally not be above sponsorship, should someone ever offer it). There we had a nice BBQ and some high end s'more making that has made Sam and I consider getting a fire pit in our own yard (once we beat back the weeds enough to avoid brush fire, of course). The next morning, we journeyed into the park for some scenic drives and hikes. These sites included, but were not limited to: the Santa Elena Canyon, the Chisos Mountains and Basin, the Chimneys, the fleeting tail of a jackrabbit, and a very drunk man having trouble staying on a horse.

I'm blinking in this one, but it's a nice view of the Window in the Chisos Basin and 5/6th of the group, so I'm including it anyway. 

A view from the Chimneys Trail. We hiked 5 miles round trip to see the same thing we could see from the trailhead, but it was a lovely walk. 

Atop a "chimney." 
That night we went to the Starlight Theater in Terlingua Ghost Town to hear some music and (in my case, at least, to try some Chicken Fried Wild Boar). Sam got one of the largest burgers I've seen, which alas I got no pictures of. If the taker of that one (I think, Aileen?) would like to send it, I will lobby for it to be his next Facebook photo.

On our second day, we went for a canoe trip on the Rio Grande. Originally we thought it was a morning trip, but quickly discovered we were booked in the afternoon. Since we were up anyway, we went into the park for a quick hike out to the Hot Springs for a soak. The afternoon canoe trip actually went into Big Bend State Park, which is beautiful in its own right. The wildflowers were at their peak and positively sensational.
The remains of an old grocery store, near the hot springs. 

The water can apparently get up to 105 degrees, but felt somewhat cooler that day. 

A view from our canoe. I believe that's Carolyn and Aileen in front of us, and Mom in the canoe to the right. Dad got one knee in the photo. 

We stopped briefly on the Mexican side of the river for a snack. Sam wanted a photo to commemorate his time in Mexico. 
 On our last day at Big Bend, our group split up with some going for more hiking and the rest (those without horse allergies) going for a ride outside the park. We had a nice three hour ride through the deserts and along a fairly steep ridge. This portion of the trip was not favored by those in the group with a fear of heights, but it did make for some lovely vistas.
The group atop our mounts. Mine was named Tiffany and was somewhat out of shape. 

It seemed just like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had that movie been filmed in Texas and at a slow walk. 
Alas we had to leave the park and return to regular life today. Yesterday was spent almost entirely driving and through large swaths of Texas with very little in them. We did manage a little stop in Fredricksburg for lunch before returning to the plaintive cries of our long suffering cat. It's nice to be back, but I will miss our desert life. 
As a final photo: a different 5/6ths of the group at the Rio Grande Overlook. 


  1. Nice wrap-up. I had almost forgotten the drunk on the horse. I do want to inform your readers that the canoe trip involved paddling against a constant, strong wind.