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.


  1. I love this next installment. Sure made me want to be there, too! You really didn't go to bed at all that night? I linked this post to my Twitter feed so maybe you'll get some new readers.

    Thanks for your comments on my post about Reginald's postcard and on my Cemeteries of the Covered Bridges post!

  2. I'm back. I can see so very many hits on your Feedjit announcing my presence.

    Reading this one, I feel as if you've been inspired by the colorful language of James Lee Burke, OR, you've inspired him, one or the other.

    Either way, you present yourself well. I lived most of my life knowing of The Big Bend, and never having seen it. When I was eight years old, I was in an argument with some girls from New Mexico who bragged that they had more national parks. "Maybe you do, but OURS is bigger than all of yours combined". I don't think that impressed them.

    I actually saw The Big Bend on a "tourbus" trip that my wife had purchased on the occasion of my sixtieth birthday. In the thirteen years intervening, we've tried to get out there at least once each year.

    Willie C

  3. Thanks for letting us share in your experience. Even a wandering blogger like me who you have never met! Thanks.