Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah . . .

We traveled to Big Bend, Texas a week before Christmas and Chanukah. However, because we are publishing this post on the 25th, we want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday! Lots of hugs from us both.

Alpine, Fort Davis and Terlingua

Ibex (import from Africa)Our ultimate destination was Big Bend National Park but some Texans we met on our travels persuaded us to visit Murfa, Alpine and Big Bend State Park on the way. A surprise sighting of an African Ibex snacking on the shrubs was the only significant wildlife that we saw on this part of our journey. Neither of the towns suggested to us was particularly attractive apart from Sul Ross University in Alpine which houses the Museum of the Big Bend in a beautiful stone building. The museum, although small, gives a comprehensive overview of the history of the Big Bend area from dinosaur fossils to the present day. Fort Davis, a short drive North-East of Alpine, was originally set up as a frontier outpost to protect travelers on the San Antonio to El Paso road, mainly from Comanche, Kiowa and Apache Native Americans. Most of the travelers were on their way West to California hoping to strike it rich. This highway to the West was an unpaved road through the middle of the Fort, parts of which are still well-preserved. During the Civil War, the Fort passed back and forth to both sides but was finally occupied by the newly formed US Cavalry in 1867 and was built up as a major outpost with more than 400 soldiers, protecting wagons, stagecoaches and telegraph lines until 1891 when it was abandoned. It became a National Historic site in 1961. We particularly enjoyed the hospital, barracks and were amused by the sounding of (recorded) bugle calls at appropriate times during the day. On our way to Big Bend State Park we stopped at Terlingua, and drove around the Ghost Town, looking at relics of when the town was an active mining community producing Cinnabar, from which Mercury is extracted. Mining was carried out on and off until 1973.

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Lajitas and Big Bend State Park

Hoodoos TrailBig Bend State Park has no campground facilities of its own so we found an RV Park associated with a Golf Resort at Lajitas, close to the entrance to the Park. We weren’t quite sure what to expect but the RV Park, although very remote, was well run, roomy and pleasant. The resort across the road had hotel rooms, a restaurant, bar and other stores. The main road through the park from Lajitas to Presidio, known as the ‘River Road’ follows the course of the Rio Grande with the steep Mexican mountain range on the other side and many scenic views. We found it hard to believe we were at the border, no sign of a wall, and the river looked easy to cross, unlike the Chihuahua Mountain Range on the other side. Together, we hiked the ‘Hoodoos’ trail to an overlook and down to the Rio Grande. Hoodoos are rock pillars formed from a protective small layer of hard rock preventing the rock directly below from erosion, very common in Bryce Canyon, Utah. Colin also hiked into Closed Canyon, a chasm cut through the mountains by a wash, leading down to the Rio Grande. The canyon was dry but it was easy to imagine the rush of water on and off over hundreds of thousands of years creating the 150 foot canyon walls. The hike through the canyon gets more and more difficult, ending up requiring ropes to rappell down the rocks caught at the bottom of the canyon. While Colin was negotiating the canyon, Cheryl made friends with some passing travelers who lent her their dogs for a little while and gave us some good advice about the National Park, our next stop. The morning that we left Lajitas, the full moon was setting behind the mountains as the sun was rising so Colin took some moon shots.

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From Cheryl: Here is a particular bird song we woke up to every morning. I never did see the bird type, as they were hiding in palm trees and I could only see a shadow of them. They were dark, perhaps black, but nary a one would come out to get a picture taken.

  • Alpine, Lajitas, Big Bend State Park

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    Alpine, Fort Davis, Terlingua and Lajitas, Texas

  • 5 Comments on “Big Bend, Texas

    1. Happy Holidays to you both! Love the cover shot. Clouds amaze me.
      From Cheryl: Happy holidays to you and Richard as well! May all your days in 2017 be filled with health and happiness! Clouds amaze us too! These pictures astounded us, in that they truly reflected what we saw. A real Mother Nature’s art show.

    2. Joyeux Noël à vous deux. Gros bisous de nous 15 reunis à la maison.
      From Cheryl: Merci my sweet Michèle. So many family members! Can’t wait to see pictures. So what did your Secret Santa bring you this year? Love to all the family.

    3. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.
      From Cheryl: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too! May all your wishes come true, may your health be great in 2017 with lots of fun things to do and see.

    4. Loved the sunset pics, the cash register!, the unique rock formations, the loving, blissed out dogs, the vegetation close ups. You guys made it look beautiful. Happy Hanukkah!
      From Cheryl: We loved that cash register too. It was amazingly ornate and real silver. Thank you for your lovely feedback, so glad you are enjoying the pictures, it’s so wonderful to have compliments for Colin’s hard work!

    5. Yes…all shots with Cheryl and dogs tend to be beautiful. Also loved the shots of the Rio Grande (which seems very small, actually)…and the scenes of both Texas and Mexico. But my favorite shot is the selfie of Colin in the canyon, with the reflection in the water puddle. That took a lot of planning! And the other canyon shots too.
      From Cheryl: The Rio Grande WAS small, at least at this point in its wanderings. We were amazed at how often we thought people could easily pass back and forth between the US and Mexico. But the humungous Mexican mountains which hug the Rio Grande are the wall that keeps illegals out. In this area, there is nothing for miles and miles around the Rio Grande but scrub brush. Without a car, water, shade, the trek would be more than hard going, if not impossible. So the terrain itself is the wall on this part of the border.

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