Beautiful Big Bend National Park
Originally, we were on the fence about whether we would go to Big Bend NP, but we are so glad we did! We weren't sure what to expect because what we've read online mentions the river, the mountains, and the desert, and the park itself spans such a vast area so there is a lot of diversity in features, so it's difficult to get a sense for the park as a whole.
Since we decided to stay at the Tumble In instead of taking the camper to the park, we got up early yesterday for the drive south. It was a scenic drive with a jarring Border Control checkpoint that comes out of nowhere and is a reminder of how serious the border is in these parts. On the way south there is a wall of CCTV cameras catching every angle of each vehicle, along with who knows what else (heat mapping? Xrays?). The road north requires a stop and questioning by an officer while a drug sniffing dog does a sweep around the car with three other officers looking on. I snuck the picture below of the cameras after our interrogation going north.
The Chihuahua Desert is striking and so unlike our Midwestern home. As we drove west and south through Texas, the lush hill country gave way to sparse trees and shrubs tucked into plateaus and flats, and those changed to small mountains and even fewer trees in the high desert, which then transformed into sand and rocks sparsely dotted with shrubs and cacti with the mountains always looming in he distance.
Big Bend is a a mix of these deserts, spectacular geology from ancient volcanoes and eons of weathering, and the Rio Grande with her lush flood planes. We traveled the west and central parts of the park, driving the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and the Chisos Basin Road. We stopped at several scenic points and overlooks, but the sweltering heat and glaring sun limited our hiking to just the Santa Elana Canyon trail, which, if I'm being honest, we didn't even finish. Post hike ice cream never tasted so good. We also went on the short walk to The Window View in the mountains.
Today is our first day of leisure, checking our snail mail and doing laundry, having spent previous days driving, exploring the outdoors, or being tourists. They aren't joking when they say everything in Texas is bigger. We travel vast spaces, completely void of cellular signal and without a scrap of internet. I'm not complaining in the least; it's a nice respite from the digital world.
We are meeting so many interesting people on our travels, not surprisingly many on similar expeditions or who have done similar things in the past. They are all so friendly and quick to recommend their favorite places or must-see destinations. It's a much slower and more deliberate way of life and how vacation ought to be.