Blue People, Red State - Winter 2010 travel blog










We love the national parks and have waited a long time to come to Big Bend, so named because the Rio Grande River makes a giant U shaped turn there. It is one of the largest national parks in the US and encompasses the entire Chisos Mountain Range. However, it took us almost two days to get here and will take just as long to get back out. This park is not on the way to anywhere and you don't just drop in. As we drove west the road imperceptively grew higher and the thermometer dropped. We turned south at Marathon, a town named by a Greek sea captain who thought the scenery looked like home. He should have planted a few olive trees.

Today's drive was somewhat disconcerting to this urban couple. There aren't too many places where you can drive and not see another car for fifteen minutes at a stretch. But just as my overactive imagination began to ponder what we would do if we had engine trouble or a flat tire, we'd see our friends from the border patrol. Although rescuing stranded motorists is not their charge, friends have told us that they at least can help you call for help - a real blessing in an area where our cell phones are rendered incommunicado.

We passed some names that are well known to anyone who has ever watched a Western. We crossed the Pecos River and passed the town of Langtry which houses the Judge Roy Bean Museum. Bean was a real rascal who lived on the fines from the people he convicted in his saloon/court house. He relied on one book of Texas law and threw updated law books into the fire place. At one point Bean courted a young lady, who was subsequently kidnapped and forced to marry a Mexican officer. Bean challenged the groom to a duel and killed him. Six of the dead man's friends put Bean on a horse and tied a noose around his head, then left him to hang. The horse did not bolt, and after the men left, the bride, who had been hiding behind a tree, cut the rope. Bean was left with a permanent rope burn on his neck and a permanent stiff neck. And thus the West was won.

But we did not dare linger in Langtry, since we did not have a campground reservation and had no idea how many Winter Texans had already beat us down the 70 mile road to the campground. As a forty footer we don't fit just anywhere and it would have been a bummer to drive all that way and find no room at the inn. In the RV section the rigs were packed in like sardines. It would be nice to have power and water hookups, but getting in and out would be a challenge, so we headed toward the "roughing it" section and are running the generator until 8pm and testing the batteries for the rest of the evening. The campground is on the river and at this low elevation the warm sunshine made it a pleasure to be outside.

The main road through the park is paved, but most of the park is accessible by dirt road requiring a four wheel drive vehicle, which we just happen to have brought along. And of course there are many places to hike. There are so many choices, we are studying and reading deciding how best to see it all.

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