Big Bend National Park

2/13/13 Wednesday at Marathon, TX (Marathon Motel and RV Park-weekly rate)

IMG_6712Up early for the big day ahead: started roast beef in crock pot, packed lunches, steamed eggs.  Our car was frosted so John thoughtfully warmed it up, then we left at 8 am.  Texas is just really spread out, so there are long distances to anywhere.  Marathon to Persimmion Gap (42 miles).  Here is where you normally pay $20 (unless you have the Senior Pass which makes it free). No one was there at 8:45 am, so we went on to Panther Junction (Big Bend Headquarters) (26 miles) before we “paid” with our Senior Pass.  Then PJ to Chisos Basin  (10 miles).  Inside the park the speed limits range from 25 mph to 45 mph, so it takes longer as well.  Finally, at 10:15 am we started our trek up “Lost Mine Trail”.  Fun trail, but we were glad for our sweatshirts and wished we’d put our hiking boots on – very rocky.  Long (4.8 miles) and lots of ascent too – about 1100 feet.  We almost made it to the top (marker 24), but turned around at marker 22, not knowing how much further we had to go. Lovely views along the way.

IMG_6723Right off the bat: a couple mule deer met us on the trail, then scampered off.  We read that there are mountain lions and bears in the Park, but we didn’t run into any.  Maybe a bit cold for them?

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The trail

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Views

 

 

 

 

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Rainbow Cactus

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View of the “Window” Pour off – where, when it rains, water pours down from the mountains to the valley. This was another small trail we walked next. There is another much longer Window trail that leads to the top of that pour off.

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Cottonwoods along the Rio Grande – where Rio Grande Village is (20 miles from Panther Junction)

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At the Rio Grande Village, we followed the Nature Trail to turtles and birds, Great Heron and Pied-billed Grebe.

IMG_6781 Great Heron

IMG_6786 Pied-billed Grebe

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A cottonwood tree at the Rio Grande Village Campground. There is an “asphalt” style campground with full hook ups for $33/night (room for big RVs) as well as this one with no hookups ($14/night) and few places for big rigs.

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Beyond Rio Grande Village, we walked the trail the Rio Grande.

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Scenes along the way: A Mexican and his horse on the Mexican side.

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The singing Mexican on the Mexican side. Apparently he serenades all the tourists who take this trail. He is a lovely singer and leaves a jar on the American side for donations.

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Money request if you buy crafts (this is a scorpion).

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A couple on the trail shared that during March, Spring Break, the park is crowded with Texans. Sure glad we didn’t inadvertently come then! We also learned from another couple on the trail that before 9/11/01, the border was fluid, that both Mexicans and Americans crossed easily and frequently. Our neighbor in this RV park said they would bring clothes and eat at the restaurants in the little village all the time. That couple and our neighbor felt terrible that things had come to this. Now the little village is “drying up”. Unfortunately, we saw a notice posted that said Americans are not to cross the border that is not an official border crossing (like at Palomas), nor to purchase any items not offered at such a crossing. We also saw a notice stating that our government is working with the Mexican government to start a border crossing here, as Boquillos Canyon. There is more government paperwork yet to be completed by the Mexicans, from what I understood. Another element: while we were asking about Rio Grande Village at the Visitor Center there, a man came rushing in, agitated, wanting to make a statement to a ranger. He’d seen a Mexican on the American side who maybe offered to sell him something? We tried not to listen, so don’t know for sure.

IMG_6808Wouldn’t you know, we then saw a Mexican grazing his horse on the American side.

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Where the Boquillos Canyon squeezes the Rio Grande.

On our way back to the Village, we saw an NPS plane fly above us. We wondered if they were looking into the accusation of the agitated man.

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Soon after that plane flew by, as we were leaving too, we saw 2 Mexicans with 4 horses ride from the American side to the Mexican side.

We left the Village around 4 pm, arriving at home, after getting gas, at 5:45 pm. Once again it’s a rush to do supper (John HAD to make mashed potatoes to go with our roast beef), laundry, showers. Such an exciting day, but we sure got tired.  We’ve only explored the East side today, so we plan to go to Big Bend again tomorrow, for the West side, since the weather looks best tomorrow rather than later.

PS:  I ran out of my 3 GB of storage space for photos, so I paid $20 (annually) for 13 GB of storage.  The free was fun while it lasted.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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