February 11 – Big Bend National Park

And I thought Kansas was flat and boring! Traveling from Del Rio to Big Bend was basically flat and desert. Saw one person in 207 miles of two lane road. There were cars and trucks that passed but out the side window was nothing.DSC_0034

We did stop at Judge Roy Bean’s saloon and the town of Langtry. Do you remember Judge Roy Bean as a kid? He was the law west of the Pecos River and probably did it his own way as the story goes. The State of Texas took over his saloon and ground and created a Visitor’s Center with Free Admission to the original buildings from the 1882.

Made it to our campsite by 3:30 and it was a store and RV park. Nothing else around. The old Stillwell ranch. Everything is gravel, no trees, they do have shelters (lean to) and full hook up. What else do you need? No phone service within 40 miles of here, we do have wifi. Only about 6 campers here so pretty quiet. Did meet a couple who used to live in STL and their son is still in Ferguson. He like I sure enjoy the winters here versus STL.

On the campground is Hallie’s Museum. She was the wife of the original owner of the Stillwell Ranch since 1918. She was a teacher, managed the restaurant, raised children and was the justice of the peace.

This was also a good place to do rock hunting. Met one of the campers who goes out every day and looks for rocks of value. He had quite a collection and some very interesting pieces.

Owner did warn me that coyotes will eat little dogs, so not to let them run loose. Gretel is having a good time looking for rabbits though they may be bigger than her.

If I didn’t say it before, the sky is so clean and clear. Nighttime sky is so bright. In fact, this is supposed to be one of the darkest (no light pollution) places in the country.

Friday we made our first visit to Big Bend National Park. It was so big we drove 150 miles and visited 4 Visitors Centers and got 4 stamps. The roads are in great shape. We took a picnic lunch and enjoyed it by the side of the road, watching the scenery. Later we came to Chisos Mountain Basin and they had a lodge and store. We stopped for a Big Bend Brewery beer and stared at the Window. See pic. DSC_0083We hate to admit it but we did not do any long hiking on the trails. I can assure you that if that is your thing, this is the place to be. People were coming from all over to hike. Especially with the great weather.

When we got home, the owner stopped by and said someone complained about the dogs barking. There was no one around us but someone down the street wondered what the rules were about dogs in a camper. The park had no rules but the owner told us to watch it.

Saturday we took our dogs with us. Not doing a lot of stopping (dogs are not allowed on the trails) we drove 220 miles that day. We did get one more stamp at the Rio Grande Village. There is an elevation change from 1850 (at Rio Grande) to 7825 (Emery Peak).

We did get to see a road runner. Our neighbor in the campground did see a panther walk thru the campground one morning.DSC_0095

We did take a ride to Study Butte, Terlingua and Terlingua Ghost town, and Lajitas. Study Butte and Terlingua were small towns that provided the basic services to those using Big Bend NP. Terlingua Ghost Town was an old mining town (established in 1905) that is being renewed by modern pioneers and would be a fun place to spend the day. Lajitas is an old river crossing (on Rio Grande) that has become a golf resort.

Did get a chance to see the Rio Grande River.DSC_0027

I do have to say that Big Bend NP was quite impressive – River – Desert – Mountains. We did not do everything we could have done during our stay, so it calls to come back and spend more time.

When we got back home, the neighbors invited us over for a campfire. Hadn‘t had one for a while and it felt good with the cold desert air. The neighbor who had the campfire was also the one who complained about the dogs, in fact he told me that night. And then went on about how much trouble dogs are.

One of the couples around the campfire were die-hard hikers and bikers. They still sleep in a tent and ride way more miles than I do. This couple had brought with them a night scope, and we had a chance to explore the sky and horizon. It was quite impressive what you could see. So many more stars than you could imagine.DSC_0050

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and it was low key. I can assure you there was no restaurants within 50 miles to take my sweetheart to. We will do that at our next stop. I did buy Brenda a hiking hat and she bought me a NP Centennial shirt.

Brenda wanted to catch up on her sewing so I went for a bike ride. Rode Persimmon Gap in Big Bend and did about 18 miles. The wind was strong so progress was slow. Brenda did make Mushroom Risotto for our evening meal plus we finished the last bottle of wine we had saved from the Biltmore House.

With all the dust and dry weather, I did get to wash the front of the RV and washed all the windows. You see there is still work to do full timing, this isn’t all fun and games. The weather has been great as it was a warm 85.

Monday off to Fort Davis, Texas.

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