Sunday, June 26, 2011


June 26

The Island is still foggy and we might get a few rain showers today as well. So there isn't much to get to outside. So my thoughts are wandering back a  few years to our first big journey south. It has always meant a lot to me to do a thing for the first time. And, strangely, the memories of the first journey are still the strongest. We had wonderful days that winter. After first venturing down the West Coast we arrived at Holtville,CA.  We stayed until the middle of January. Then we went on through Arizona with the goal of Southern Texas and the Gulf of Mexico.

Underway we stopped for a few days to visit the Big Bend National Park  at the Rio Grande. And here is our account from those days.

Prickly Pear Cactus 
Our first whole day in the Big Bend National Park and we spend it on the campground. The warm spring weather feels pleasant and makes us lazy.
We undertake a few walks in the vicinity. One of our walks brings us down to the Rio Grande. Just across the water maybe 25 yards away is the international border -
Both sides are overgrown with river cane. The green waters of the river are floating lazily downstreams.
A friendly ranger we meet upon tells us that the entire area has been a farm until 1940. Afterwards it got into the possession of the National Park Service. The brilliant irrigation system could be maintained ensuring that the mighty cottonwood trees are still alive and thriving.  On a regular basis the former fields, now the campground are flooded with the river waters. A pump is bringing the water into the irrigation ditches from where it can led from one area to the other

Javelinas are roaming freely throughout the Park

Today we want to explore the Santa Elena Canyon. Cut 1200ft. down into the rock the Rio Grande has been running here for millions of years.
The internal park road runs from Rio Grande Village via Panther Junction along the Chiso Mountains until it meets the river again at the north side of the park. We stop at the various exhibitsalong the road. They teach us about the geology, fauna and flora of the region.
Many places we see rugged mountain lines. Not unlike palisades they run across the landscape. These are casts where lava has risen through. This lava proved to be harder than the surrounding sand stone material and consequently withstood the process of erosion.

Ruin of an old farmstead 
The impressive north side of the National Park is probably the most important place to visit.The river runs in the 1200ft. deep Santa Elena Canyon and is bordered on the Mexican side by Sierra Ponce From the parking lot vis-a-vis the canyon I make the walk into the canyon. At the end of the trail the canyon is barely 10-12 yards wide. America on this side, Mexico on the other.

Since dogs are not allowed on the trails, Bea waits with them at he paking lot
We return over the Old Maverick Road. Old Maverick is 14mile stretch of dirt road. It is very rough and it is not recommended for other than 4x4 vehicles. A few places it runs through washes and it'll rattle you through. Contrary to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, we took this morning, the Old Maverick runs through flat terrain. It connects to the paved park road at Maverick Junction. From there one might either leave the park toward Study Butte/Terlingua or return via Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village.

The Rio Grande or Rio Bravo as it is called in Mexico


  1. Your post on Big Bend brings back lots of pleasant memories of our trip there in December of 04. By far it is my favorite part of Texas.

  2. Hi Peter and Bea,

    Your pictures are beautiful. I have never made it to that section of Texas, but plan to get there one of these days.

    I still think fondly of you guys while camping at Belle Starr's. That was great fun.


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