We made it to Big Bend National Park on the Rio Grande River in Texas.  Big Bend is an isolated desert park with its own mountain range.  It has an endless supply of wilderness opportunities including great hikes, wonderful scenery for car touring and gorgeous river float trips on the Rio Grande.

Big Bend National Park.
     Travel to the park turned out to be quite an adventure.  I checked several map sources including the internet before traveling on the road through Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Seeing no "red flags" off we went.  Although the road was paved, it was no place for an RV of our size.  The road was narrow with no shoulder.  Over its 50 mile length, it had giant, steep dips every few hundred yards for the washes.  It was twisty and featured a 15% grade over a 1 mile portion.  A 15% grade in a car may not be a big deal, but in a 34' gas motorhome it is tighten the seat belts, shift into 1st gear, and pump the brakes like crazy. Since we never encountered such a steep grade in our rig, "ignorance was bliss" and we made it with no problem.  Whew!

Closed Canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park.
This was Ted & Karen's first slot canyon experience.
The canyon got narrow, steep and wet so we turned around
approximately a tenth of a mile short of the end.
Karen was scrambling over the rocks and climbing
the drops like a pro.
     After our arrival at our campsite, as we were setting up, who should appear but Karen Cravens with Ted not far behind.  What a great surprise.  We met this couple at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and have bumped into them a couple of times thereafter.  We have loads of fun every time we are together as Ted's unique sense of humor keeps everybody in stitches (or groans). This time we overlapped by 5 days.  So we had plenty of time for fun, adventure and great happy hours.
Happy hour in Terlingua Ghost Town, Texas.
     For our first adventure Karen & Ted became our tour guides for the national park.  They took us to all the sights and even took us on a beautiful 4 wheel-drive road.  We concluded the day with a visit to Terlingua Ghost Town.  Terlingua is a weird place with old stone buildings in various states of disrepair.  It is also the home of an eclectic artist community so the place has an odd look and feel. Our evening started at the porch of the General Store watching the locals and tourists gather to drink beer and play a few tunes.

Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande River.
Luna's Jacal (adobe-style house).
Big Bend National Park.
Nancy & Karen at the Starlight Theater Restaurant in Terlingua Ghost Town.
      Our most unique experience was a day-trip to Boquillas Del Carmen, an isolated Mexican town accessible from the national park.  To get to Boquillas we had to take the International Ferry across the Rio Grande.  So into a row-boat we were loaded for the crossing.
Crossing the Rio Grande River to Mexico
on the International Ferry.
Me, Nancy, Karen & Ted.
          Thereafter, we were loaded onto burros for the 1 mile trek to town.  This was Karen's first burro ride so she lead our stampede into town.  Many of the homes in Boquillas are quite colorful and the town is loaded with Mexican trinkets for sale, as well as 2 restaurants.  Of course, Nancy broke out her wallet and purchased some of the Mexican "junk" being hawked by the town's children. We selected a restaurant overlooking the river and had an enjoyable lunch.  Since we all survived our lunch, on our way back we took advantage of another opportunity for a Terlingua happy hour.
The burro posse.
Me, Nancy, Karen & Ted.
Boquillas Del Carmen, Mexico
Boquillas Del Carmen, Mexico
     After spending 5 days hanging out with Karen and Ted they were on their way, so we had to entertain ourselves.  Nancy decided to dive into her studio so, for me, hiking and mountain biking it was.  My hike was the 14 mile South Rim Trail which featureed a rim-walk overlooking desert mountains and the desert floor. What a fantastic hike!  First, I encountered a momma bear and her 3 cubs.  Since they were dangerously close, I took the textbook approach and gently talked to them while slowly backing away.  I figured I needed to be nice so I told mamma how pretty she was and what wonderful children she had.  Nonplussed, she kept a wary eye on me until I vacated the area.
A view on the South Rim Trail.
Overlook of some desert mountains
from the South Rim Trail.
      My next encounter was with 3 deer by the side of a small creek.  The deer were at the creek to quench their thirst.  However, the trail was only a few feet from the creek.  Although the deer immediately spotted me, they opted not to move.  So I had to creep slowly and quietly past getting as close as 15-20 feet while they just stared at me as if I was the best form of entertainment they had all day.  I almost felt as if I should have performed a little song and dance routine, but I didn't want to attract any bears.
Big Bend National Park.
Big Bend National Park.
Big Bend Ranch State Park.
A view from our campsite.
     On our last day I was able to mountain bike a portion the "Epic Ride" trail system in Big Bend Ranch State Park.  This is an extensive trail system through a beautiful portion of the Chihuahuan Desert.  Since I was riding solo I decided to stay away from the difficult trails.  Of course, I got lost and found myself on an "expert" rated trail.  I managed to get through it unscathed, but it really kicked my butt.  So there I was in the middle of the desert, 10 miles from the trailhead with no energy.  Fortunately, I found an easy trail back to the campground, but it was still a real struggle.
An abandoned mine along the trail on the Epic Ride.
A view on the Epic Ride.
     Now we are on our way to San Antonio for Thanksgiving.  We are really missing family and looking forward to Christmas in Connecticut.


  1. Looks like a great place. Love the burro adventure, that looks like a blast!

  2. These are amazing places you are sharing with us through your blog. There are moments when it feels like setting down roots in a little place in the middle of nowhere sounds very appealing.


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