Thursday, June 4, 2009



After a less than restful night along the banks of the Rio Grande we decided we would leave our trusty ol' camper parked just where it was and head out for parts unknown in the pickup truck.

Our first order of business was to check out the campground in the Chisos Mountains. That was a good choice. The drive up to the campground was incredibly beautiful...quite an incline at times, but absolutely stunning scenery. We were a bit concerned that we would not be able to find a camp site there since all sites are on a first come first serve basis. But, as I have mentioned before, one of the perks of being a senior is being able to travel when most other people are in school or working. We were traveling in early April and although many people were in the park, it was not crowded. We found a great spot! The minute we saw it we knew we wanted to stay right there. So, in order to make sure the site stayed in our possession, I retrieved my other James Lee Burke novel, my cooler of Diet Cokes, my comfortable camp chair and the dog, parked myself right down under the covered shelter and waved good-bye to Skip as he headed back to the Rio Grande Village to hook up the trusty little Chalet and bring her back to the Chisos Basin. The dog and I were alone there at the campsite for several hours. That's how long it took for Skip to get back to the Rio Grande, hook up and get back to the Basin. It was a wonderful time. I tried to read, but I couldn't take my eyes off of the scenery. I saw something new everywhere I looked. The rock formations were alive. Now, my children have often accused me of being on drugs because I see things that no one else sees. But I promise, if you look closely, you can see the same things. I saw an elderly Indian woman climbing the mountain, I saw a great beast of the mountain holding on to his territory for dear life, I saw praying hands, I saw a nativity, and I saw an Indian chief and his wife. I decided they were Peta Nocona and Cynthia Anne Parker on their wedding day. I'll post the pictures. See if you don't agree. These formations were all seen while sitting and looking in one direction from our campsite. It was beautiful.

"Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker"

See his high cheek bones and deep set eyes, and the strong Indian nose? She is right beside him with a smile on her small mouth, the lace from her wedding veil between her eyes and over the ears, and a small pearl earring in her left ear lobe. You can see it, can't you? Actually, I think her mouth looks a little like Barbara Bush. This is a beautiful carving.

"The Nativity"

You can see it, can't you? The three wise men on the left, a little lamb in the center, and Mary, Joseph and an angel all hovering over the baby Jesus? There's a little lamb there, too. Or maybe it's a puppy. Were there puppies at the Nativity? Should have been.

"The Praying Hands"

See how beautifully they are folded in prayer? How long have they been there, lifted up to God in praise? Or, what body lies beneath with only the million year old hands visable? You can see it, can't you? It's amazing.

"Indian Maiden Climbing the Mountain"
There she is. You can see her can't you? At first I thought it was an old Indian woman climbing the mountain, but on reflection I think it is probably a young Indian maiden being sacrificed to the Gods. She is slowly walking to her destiny and has been frozen there for a million years. She is beautiful. You can see her, can't you? Her long beaded robe flowing down behind?

"The Great Creature of the Mountain"

Here he is. You can see him, can't you? His knarled paws lying on either side of his long trunk. He has been holding on to his side of the mountain for many years. He's not about to let go now. I think I even heard him rumble from deep within during the night. I assured him I did not want a piece of his mountain. His space was safe with me.

This was the absolutely perfect place to set up camp, and we made it our home base for three days...definitely not too long. There is so much to see in this beautiful section of our country. I feel a little sorry for the people in the big rigs. They can't set up base here. They can't navigate the steep rises and sharp turns. So, the "Basin" is left for tenters and people like us who travel with little rigs.

There is also a motel type lodge with 58 rooms and some rustic cabins located in the Chisos Basin. The facility has a nice restaurant and gift shop located within. The Chisos Mountains are a grand place to be.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009




The entrance to Big Bend National Park from Hwy 365

When last we were together, if you were in the driver's seat you were holding on to the steering wheel and preparing to slow down for the water in the middle of the road ahead. But wait. That's not real water. That's a mirage. If you were riding "shotgun," you were commiserating with Dave Robicheaux (James Lee Burke's great character) as he sits on his back porch battleing his demons and watching the white sheets of heat lightning flash across the Gulf of Mexico. Then you look up and realize that is not lightning. That's the sunlight, which can do magnificent magic with landscapes, turning the distant mountains into shimmering cities in the sky.

When we arrived at the entrance to Big Bend, it was late afternoon, the sky was a bit hazy, and the sun was shining at the perfect angle to light up the far away mountains with a beautiful sparkle...only capable by the slanting sun. It did indeed look like we were about to enter a magical city in the heavens. I quickly checked to see if Dave Robicheaux had survived his latest bout with crime and his own demons. I thought maybe I was witnessing his new abode. Not to fear. He survived. We never saw the mountains again in that light, but once was enough. It was an absolutely splendid sight.

Since it was late afternoon, almost early evening, when we arrived we decided that our best bet to find a camping spot would be Rio Grande Village which is the biggest of the camp grounds in Big Bend. So, after driving for many miles, we continued to drive through Big Bend. Big Bend is Big! We got to the campground early enough to drive around and be able to pick a good site. We discovered that the main part of the campground is in a big, shady common area that had electricity and water and lots of sites for all sizes of campers. It was pretty full. There were spaces available but there were also sites available on the perimeter of the common ground. These spaces were all surrounded by trees and undergrowth which provided great privacy. Now, Skip and I like our privacy. We don't care to know what our neighbors are talking about, and neither do we like for them to hear our conversations. Therefore, we decided on one of the nice, quiet campsites away from the common area and the other campers. We were the only ones on this quite little stretch of road. Nice. We managed to get hooked up and get some dinner on the picnic table before it got dark. We pulled out the camp chairs and settled in for a nice evening interrupted only by the sounds of a bull frog (from the sounds, a very large bull frog)somewhere close to us across the road. It was pleasant. The bull frog sounded happy. That made me happy. About the time it was getting really dark, a park ranger pulled up for a little visit. He was very nice, welcomed us to Big Bend and offered to be of service if we needed anything. Such hospitality. Then he mentioned that we should be aware that we were located on an international border and as a result should be extremely cautious. He said that it was not uncommon for visitors from south of the border to walk these roads at night and that we should not visit with them, nor should we buy anything from them. Made my night! Skip, who never has trouble sleeping, went to bed shortly after our visit and went sound asleep. I, on the other hand took our big Labrador Retriever who had a really big bark and sat in my camp chair all night long. If anybody passed by me during the middle of the night, I wanted to be aware. Nobody did. Not that I know of anway. When the sun rose the next morning we discovered that the home of the big bull frog was the Rio Grande River...just across the road. We had no idea. We did understand, however, why all of the private campsites were available and the common ground was full.

Beauty on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Double click on smaller pictures for viewing in a larger format.