29DEC02: Another night at American CG in Del Rio as we were greeted by dense fog this morning and, since we've done that recently, decided to stay put.
Pete and Ellie (NH RV friends) pulled in next to us yesterday afternoon so the four of us had a fine buffet meal at the Sirloin Stockade this noon. We did a little WalMart shopping and then drove around the campground at Amistad Nat'l Park - looks like a fine place to stay sometime.
30DEC02: Stillwell RV Resort and Store, Alpine, TX. This park is outside but next door to the Big Bend Nat'l Park. We began our adventures in this area soon after hooking up. We expect to explore only a small portion of the 800,000 acres of this National Park where the elevation along the Rio Grande is less than 2,000 ft and the nearby Chisos Mts. tower to nearly 8,000 feet. We drove south to Heath Canyon where the Rio Grande has carved a slot in the Boquillas (bo-KEY-us) Mts. to our east and had our first glimpse of the Rio Grande.
Next door to the Stillwell Store is Hallie Stillwell's Hall of Fame Museum. The self-guided tour took us back in time and gave a good feel for ranch life in this area of Texas in the early 1900's. It introduced us to Hallie's life as teacher, rancher, Justice of the Peace, and Chili Cookoff Queen for several years, to name some of her accomplishments. At the age of 13 she hitched up a four horse team gathered the reins and led a Conestoga convoy that took her family to Alpine , Texas.
31DEC02: Rio Grande Village RV Park, Big Bend Nat'l Park, TX. When we were about ten miles from this park, Cal turned on his ham radio and gave a call. Stan answered him immediately. We knew Stan and Liz had left Stillwell a couple hours before we arrived yesterday but didn't know where they were going next. Stan offered to reserve a site with hookups for us as there were only two remaining.
After lunch we departed for Boquillas Canyon where we hiked to an overlook and then down along the Rio Grande to see where the River carved its way through the Boquillas Mts
How better could we end one year and welcome another than with special friends in Beautiful Big Bend?
1JAN03: Rio Grande Village. The hook-up area here in the Village is ok but rigs are snuggled closely together, so we decided to move to the no-hook-up area, still in the Village. It's much nicer with more room between sites, better view of mountains and very quiet.
Stan, Liz, and the C's then went for a Nature Walk from Site 18 here in this no-hookup area. We were off to a great start as we watched four javelinas (pig-like animals) feeding beside a nearby campsite. They're used to people in their habitat so didn't run off.
We crossed a little pond via a boardwalk, watched the mosquitofish, then continued to the Rio Grande where there was easy access to the River. We could have walked across as it was quite narrow and shallow. We understand there's no problem with going across into Mexico; however, returning carries a $5,000 fine! We then climbed 125 feet to a great panoramic view of the floodplain and distant mountains.
Soon after returning from our hike, Stan and Liz departed for parts Western.
Next on our itinerary was a short drive to Hot Springs. A one-mile walk took us past an old motel, post office, store, homestead, and foundation of the hot springs bathhouse.. There's a stoned-up pool with 105-degree water bubbling up next to the rushing Rio Grande. Folks were soaking in the pool, but we decided to just look.
2-5JAN03: Big Bend Motor Inn, Terlinqua, TX. It's time to move on so drove to Panther Jct. Visitor Center where we got approval to leave Kenzie in the parking lot. With cameras and sandwiches aboard the Honda, we were off on a ten-mile jaunt to the Chisos Basin.
The elevation at the Rio Grande Village is 1800 msl and at this Visitor Center we had climbed to 3750 msl. We twisted and turned up and up with the spectacular, jagged Chisos peaks all around as we reached 6500msl. Then down to the Chisos Basin, so named because we had descended 2000 ft. and were completely surrounded by magnificent peaks, spires, and formations created by molten rock. That adventure was a very special treat on another perfect day with bright sun and blue sky.
Kenzie was waiting for us back at Panther Junction so, after connecting the Honda, we continued West to the Big Bend Motor Inn which will be our HQ for a few days.
The little Mexican Restaurant, Tivo's Place, just half a mile down the street from our RV site, was rich in local atmosphere and the food was okay too.
3 Jan.: Today we're taking the Honda for the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. We stopped frequently at special overlooks to ooh and aah and take pictures. We visited with a volunteer at the Castolon Ranger Station who told us that cotton and corn were once grown here on the floodplain with irrigation from the nearby River-hard to believe as it's covered with mesquite and salt bush now.
We drove into the Cottonwood Campground to look around. Trees are a rarity in the Chihuanhuan Desert, but they grow prolifically here and at the Rio Grande Village campground as both cg's are near Rio Grande River. The cottonwoods are an impressive sight decked out in their golden leaves. This is a beautiful cg, and another time we'll drive down here with our motorhome.
Then it was on to the big climax of the 30-mile trip: the Santa Elena Canyon where the Rio Grande has cut through the mountains leaving a canyon with 1500 ft shear rock walls on both sides. A cement walkway has been built along one wall making it possible to climb up to get a better view of the river and impressive cut. Quite spectacular.
The vistas were as breathtaking on our return over the same route as the sun was now overhead, changing shadows and colors on these awesome mountains..
We wound up the day with a delicious meal at the Starlight Theater Restaurant in Old Terlinqua, a Ghost Town. Terlinqua was a booming mercury (quicksilver) mining town, but when the mining ceased, folks departed.
4 Jan: This was a day off - hung around home and played catch-up with routine stuff.
5 Jan: The trip we took today over Rt. 170 from Terlinqua, and Lijatas to Presidio is claimed to be one of the most scenic in Texas. We twisted along the Rio Grande with mountains rising closely and steeply above us on both sides of the road.
We stopped at Fort Leaton in Presidio to catch up on a bit of history. The Fort was established in 1848 as a border trading post by a former Indian bounty hunter, Benjamin Leaton. The massive adobe fortress protected his family and employees from Indian raids.
After continuing on to the town of Presidio for a look around, we enjoyed the return trip in the afternoon sun.
6 Jan: Woodward Ranch, Alpine, TX
Wow! did we find a neat place to park for the night. Woodward Ranch is one of the few ranches in Texas that welcomes Rvers and rock hounds and lets them roam the 3,000 acre ranch at will. We are parked about a mile out behind the house near a clear-running creek.
That's it for now - Cal and Connie