Big Bend Region, TX 2/7-16

IMG_0634In every walk with nature, one receives far more than they seek.

– John Muir

We had the opportunity to get input and recommendations from friends and family about places to visit prior to embarking on our adventure.  One of the best suggestions that helped along these lines was to include a “mark our map” at one of our First Friday parties last year.  Boy are we glad we did that!  Friends marked our atlas with favorite spots/destinations all across the USA and Canada. It’s been a tremendous resource, and we’re truly grateful to everyone back at home for sharing tips and info with us.

One of the top destinations that came up consistently was the Big Bend National Park and the surrounding region in TX.  We heard from so many about the incredible beauty, vast mountains and vistas, hiking, Rio Grande, quirky towns outside the park, etc., that we knew we wanted to set aside plenty of time to explore this region.  After traveling on nearly deserted highways for hundreds of miles to reach the park, it nearly took our breath away as we entered the 880,000 acre park and literally had us uttering “Thank you God!” at numerous times as we took in the sights, sounds, and indescribable beauty.

Following are pictures and some highlights.

Big Bend National Park, TX

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“Window View” was a destination for one of our hikes in the National Park.  BA didn’t want to get any closer to the edge….long way down!

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Same pic as feature photo for this post.  Did you notice the bike rider?  That’s William!  We LOVE our e-bikes!!  We like the exercise and ability to explore and ride while also being able to go MUCH farther and faster thanks to the e-function.  It’s also AWESOME to be able to go up steep mountain hills with EASE.  Nice!

 

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Drying off after soaking in the Hot Springs along the Rio Grande. Bathing suit and shorts in early February!

 

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William drying off after soaking in the hot springs along the Rio Grande. That is Mexico on the opposite bank- just a few feet away. No place for a wall here.

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Hot Springs- our first experience taking a dip in one of these natural gems along the Rio Grande.  Again, that is Mexico on the other side.  No wall, please.

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Handcrafted walking sticks and intricate yet simple figurines fabricated from copper and colored wire made by Mexicans in the neighboring village across the Rio Grande.   They leave these along the banks with a tin can where Americans deposit payment on the honor system.  Walking sticks go for something like $8.00.   The practice is discouraged, though it’s hard to feel anything except respect and compassion for working people.

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Stop for a breath and a selfie along a hike!

 

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Nice to see steps carved into the rock to make hiking this trail a bit easier 😉

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Our little house in a great big beautiful backyard!

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Telephone booth near one of our two campsites during our stay at Big Bend NP- we were off the grid.

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A brief, unsuccessful attempt to update the blog at the only community site near our campsite in the park with internet access.  Gave up and got back to having fun!

 

 

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On the way back up from our hike to the Window view.

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Big Bend NP is one of those places that just can’t be captured in photos.  Seems like everywhere you turn is another spectacular scene.  Our weather was fantastic too!

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Enjoying our e-bikes everywhere we go!

 

Fort Davis State Park, Alpine, and Marfa…TX (still in Big Bend Region)

Though we would have loved to stay longer at Big Bend National Park, we left earlier than anticipated after learning that our dog, Maysea, wasn’t permitted to hike on trails there.  It isn’t the case at all National Parks, but unfortunately for us, she was only allowed to go on paved roads in this particular park.  Bummer.  Anyway, we made the most of our time there, had a blast, and moved on to enjoy the small towns of Terlingua, Marfa, Alpine, and Fort Davis.  All are still considered to be part of the Big Bend Region and provide great stops for varying reasons.  Following are some pictures from these stops…

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Trail planning at Fort Davis State Park.  This was a favorite destination, particularly for William….enjoyed the solitude, scenery, and beautiful spot for camping.

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Hiking at Fort Davis State Park.  We would soon learn that the TX rocks would be tough on Maysea’s feet!  She is a Portuguese WATER dog.

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Fort Davis

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Fort Davis

Marfa, TX

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Marfa is a quirky little town noted for “Marfa Lights” that appear mysteriously in the night sky.  It is supposedly a destination for foodies, artists, and various pop stars looking for some quiet time.  You can certainly get that in this little place.

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This was suggested as a stop for a gift shop.  Turned out to be an eclectic camping spot that appeared to be a popular commune.

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A great little authentic Swiss Cafe where we stopped for lunch in Marfa… called Squeeze.  BEST find here was REAL Swiss Chocolate made by the owner’s family in Switzerland.   Delicious!  We bought a stash and are rationing it so that we can enjoy it as long as possible.  

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Downtown Marfa.  Side note- we learned during our visit with local parishoners after Saturday Mass at a wonderful small church, St. Mary’s, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had passed away just about 30 miles or so south of Marfa that day.

Alpine, TX

Alpine completes a triangle loop between the three towns of Marfa, Fort Davis and Alpine. It features a small main street with shops and restaurants and a number of murals painted along buildings throughout the town.  It was home to Dan Blocker, best known as “Hoss” on the popular 1960’s/70’s TV show, Bonanza.

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Toward the end of our stay in the Big Bend area, we learned that Pope Francis would be visiting the border near El Paso.  We decided to head there next to take part in the Papal Mass.   It was easy to make good time with the speed limits in TX (though we definitely go slower than this in our little rig).  The “slow down” speed to go through small towns was often 55mph!

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Pretty good idea for traffic control through a construction area.  We haven’t seen these in FL.

Next updates to come include our stops in El Paso, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Winslow, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ.

8 Comments on “Big Bend Region, TX 2/7-16

  1. How wonderful!! You seem to be having a grand time and I am so glad!! Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The beauty surprised us too! We thought of you two in Winslow, AZ (pics coming in next post)….Santa Fe RR stop by the La Posada Hotel. Check it out if you don’t already know about it- way cool!

      Like

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