Texas Big Bend National Park and home

Next major stop was Big Bend in Texas.

South of Carlsbad we came across the worst road surface ever. At the beginning there was a sign warning about sink holes. We imagined in places there’d be the huge great holes which whole houses could slide into.  Each side of the road had oilfields full of nodding donkeys and storage tanks. Both sides of the road had collapsed badly into what we would simply call large pot holes, almost continuous in places – more trench than hole. It was obvious that that heavy oil tankers were too much for the road causing the damage. The vibration, banging and crashing was so bad that you had to drive with one wheel on the centre of the road which was marginally less noisy. This meant for about 30 miles you could not pass anyone without moving over …… although the non stop line of loaded oil tankers coming the other way meant our wheels were generally in ruts the whole time.. Each tanker was a master at  judging when to dodge back as late as possible to miss actually crashing into us ….  As we crossed the border  from  poor New Mexico into rich Texas into it was patently obvious as the road in Texas had been repaired and resurfaces as soon as you crossed the state line.

It was relief when we got to Alpine … only to be stopped by the Sherriff …

The hold up was due to (real, live!) cowboys herding cows down the road. This appeared to be a everyday occurrence as the cattle wandered all over the place including both sides of the road – no chance of traffic continuing on their journey until the road had been cleared, No one seemed in much of a rush …

We had elsewhere during our travels been topped by a sheriff to let people out of a church. You don’t want to ever be in a hurry when out in the sticks!

Cowboy with no concern how fast the cattle go.

We were not going to make Big Bend that day so we used Allstays app to find somewhere for the night. The description kept appearing to be just down the road. always a little bit further.

We ended up stopping at Wild Rose pass in a large pull off for the night. More than adequate.

The next day not much further on we found this place for our morning coffee and marked on the map as 24 hours camping allowed! You just never know.

Finally arrived at the Panther Junction Ranger station in the Big Bend National Park. We then paid $12 for a 14 days pass to boondock on an allocated spot at Croton Springs. There was only 2 spots in this lovely place away from the road down a short track.

Very important to arrive in Big Bend wit full water tanks as you are only allowed to take 5 ltrs at a time and this is from a tap due to the water shortage in this impossibly arid area..

No generators are allowed 🙂  To stop air pollution. We were very pleased as folk waking us by turning on their generators at 6 am for a cup of coffee were extremely annoying!

There is a small petrol station at Panther Junction but it is very expensive – mind you,  anything south of the I10 was expensive even when quite close to to the Park. So any tourists leaving Big Bend get caught with high fuel costs.

We were amused at the size of the food storage boxes as they were big enough to get inside – almost a place to keep humans for the bears to eat!

It is very important to keep food inside adequate protection – an RV is fine. If in a tent you must keep food  in a storage locker for your own safety. Bears have a superb sense of smell …

his is up in the Chios Mountains of Big Bend and the gap shown in the mountains is called The Window where all the water will flow out – when there is any, that is.

Walking up in the Chios mountains. 12 months later this area was closed due to the large number of mountain lions breeding. When at the ranger station there were were surprised to see the actual size of one  as they had a life size model in the entrance.  – they are BIG. (Mountain lions and cougars are the same thing)

You are warned.

Rowdy was our perfect transport around Big Bend. Great smooth, wide roads with hardly any traffic – a dream on two wheels.

Flat Eric on Rowdy having arrived at the parking area for the Santa Elena. We had stopped at Cottonwood on the way where once cotton had been grown and old steam engines still laboured. It was quite a long ride from our campsite of about 25 miles on steep twisty roads.

To gain access to the Santa Elena Canyon on the west side of Big Bend you have to cross a side river that flows into the Rio Grande. As you can see it is very muddy, but what you cannot see is the very sharp stones just under the mud – walking barefoot over the mud the you quickly realise how painful it is!. Some spare shoes would have been very welcome!

Flat Eric showing behind him the window into the Santa Elena canyon. This had been created over thousands of years by the flow of the Rio Grande cutting down though the rock.

Santa Elena Canyon. It was many years before man successfully came down the river from the North. Many exploits started with only smashed up wood from the boats coming out the end and no people – well, live ones at any rate.

The Rio Grande is the border between the US and Mexico – at least President Trump wouldn’t need to pay for a wall on this bit of the border!

 

We had no way to wash off the mud properly before getting on Rowdy to ride back to our campsite so we had to wear shoes with muddy feet.

As you can see the mud stuck like glue to our feet … and no handy running water to sort the problem out.

Here you can just imagine the cowboys crossing over into Mexico getting away from the law.

Our quick erecting mossie tent has proved very useful.

Hot tub on the Rio Grande. Incredible spot with the fast flowing cold water of the Rio Grande next to you and hot bubbling water coming out of the ground where someone had created a stone walled hot tub.

Just look at that 🙂

To get to the hot tub meant a walk in the heat and it was not possible to drive the RV to the nearest parking spot so it meant an even further walk!

As we had to empty our black and grey tanks, the only place was at the Rio Grande Village which had a small supermarket run by a concessionary who also had full hook up in a car park type campsite. Fortunately there was also a National Park campsite although without any hook ups. BUT it had all we wanted 🙂

As you walk along the paths near the Rio Grande you come across tourist gifts to buy as in the picture from glass ornaments to walking sticks. As you enter the park you are warned they are illegal to buy as made by Mexicans .. who are not paying import duty! The Rangers are on constant lookout for this and as you leave Big Bend you have to go through a US border control area that is set up inland away from the border.

If Trump has his way this, like many other National Parks, will be destroyed by a fence (wall?) going up and stopping you enjoy the scenery – getting near the Rio Grande in this case.

 

f you look carefully you will see a canoe on the far side of the Rio Grande, a man under a tree and his horse. They are ready to make a dash across the river to collect any money left for their tourist souvenirs on display.

his is the east side of Big Bend entering the  Boquillas Canyon. You can not get very far here. There was however a notice on the path from a Mexican asking for money for his singing that was coming across the river from Mexico!

The Boquillas Canyon

Our campsite with table, sun roof, and bear box illuminated by our RV outside light. This was just past  the Rio Grande Village endof Big Bend. there was a dump station there as well.

Sad day, leaving Big Bend and Flat Eric posting our primative camping permit back :((((((((((   We had an amazing time here.

 

We left a day or two early for the airport as a bad storm was coming inland with high winds … and we don’t like driving in high winds!

 

Just before leaving Big Bend we stopped for coffee and the last gaze.

As soon as we got to the I10 we filled up with sensibly priced fuel but only made it as far as Odessa that night and stayed in a Walmart car park as it got dark early.. We missed Big Bend … but it was nice to have some food again!

 

De to the storm coming we went to Sweetwater Lake about 6 miles south of the I10 on the way to Dallas. This is a council site and on arrival there was a notice to go to the golf club to pay. As you can see we had plenty of space and electric hook up for a cheap price. Going to the dump station on the way out was bit tricky though to get to.

The entrance near the road had all the trash cans for the houses in the countryside which was a pity as they were overflowing and the public toilet there you did not want to go in. The rest of the site though was OK and there was only one other person there. Far better than being next to the I10 in a expensive run down site.

 

Good job we did stop for 2 nights as the we then had very heavy rain and strong winds.

 

This is the Lake 🙁  Once upon a time houses were built and they had their own pontoons down onto the lake. Then, like so many place in the US, a big drought started and tthe lake nearly dried up.

On route the next day we filled up the LPG tank and we were told that the wind had been so high the day we had stopped you could not stand up. Well planned stopping.

We went o the storage place we had booked just north of Denton above Dallas to check it, pay, sign the papers and then went to Walmart Denton to stay the night in their car park after first having been to the launderette. The next day we filled up the fuel tanks and put in stabiliser due to the 10% ethanol in the US fuel. Back at the storage we cleaned the RV inside and out and then telephoned for a taxi which took over an hour to come. We were so glad we had allowed extra time and staying in a hotel the night before our flight. To try and store and then get to the airport on the same day would have been very stressful.

So that night we stayed at the Quality Inn near the airport and reminisced on an unforgettable holiday. IT had been great to meander along at a gentle pace which was generally only 55 mph and stop wherever we wanted to without the prebooking of places.

We arrived home to Spain again just in time for Christmas on December 20th.

 

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