Thursday, November 19, 2009

Waltz Across Texas (part 2)

As I promised, here is Big Bend National Park as seen through the viewfinder of my camera. You know I get snap-happy, and like always, I took way too many pictures. Believe it or not, I'm only sharing a small part of my Big Bend collection.
I'll be honest with you--when hubby said he wanted to "waste time" in Big Bend while we waited for the weekend when we could visit our kids in San Angelo, I was not too excited about the idea. But I was wrong, and our few days there was no waste of time. The weather was perfect and the park is beautiful. The months of October and November is a good time to visit this picturesque desert.

If you decide to make the trip this winter or next spring, be sure to take hiking boots, a walking stick, and a couple of good canteens. (If you are planning a summer vacation, go to Colorado instead!) As you hike the trails and drive the paved and dirt roads, be prepared to marvel over the scenery, wildlife, and dessert vegetation.

I hope you enjoy my pictures--forgive me if this is vacation picture overload but I just couldn't help myself!

Look on the map of Texas and find our southern boarder, the great Rio Grande River. Typically the Rio Grande can be crossed easily on foot in many places. But due to some good rains and water released from a Mexican reservoir, the river was flowing deep and wide--and VERY muddy.

Across the river is, of course, Mexico. Here you see some Mexican citizens who were operating a little illegal business on American soil. They were on their side of the river, watching me through binoculars as I watched them through my zoomed camera lens.
And here are four more amigos who hiked down river a short distance from the camp. They too were keeping a close eye on me.

Here is their business--hand made bracelets, necklaces, wildlife trinkets made from twisted wire, and walking sticks. The items and the prices are written on the butchered milk jug. There were several of these little stores set up on big rocks on the American side of the river.

The Mexicans cross the river in their canoes, leave their merchandise, return to the Mexican side and wait for park visitors to leave cash in the jugs. (They are happy to take donations if you don't want any of their goods.) Then, they make their way back across the river to collect.You can buy the same trinkets in the visitor's centers and ranger stations at about three times the price posted on the jug. But the higher priced items have gone through the proper channels to be legal imports. We don't believe in encouraging illegal activity across our boarders, so I just took pictures and kept my money in my pocket.

FYI--Just in case you decide to visit Big Bend, be aware that some drug traffic happens across the desolate and impossible to secure river boundary, so it is important to obey park rules and avoid the illegal business.

It is hard to put into words the beauty of the diverse desert and mountains of Big Bend. I love nice scenery, don't you?
The subject of the photo below is the mule ear peaks in the background. We just happened to get into the shot.

As I tried to take in all the beautiful views I also enjoyed the wildlife. This osprey was just passing through. Though these birds do not live in the area, they migrate through the park. I was at the right place at the right time.
I noticed this sapsucker while we were hiking up a mountain trail.The deer hanging out at one of the camping spots weren't the least bit afraid of us.

Can you see my hidden treasure? I drive Rick crazy when we hike because I notice all the little details of nature.The desert is full of tarantulas and this one is missing a couple of legs. Poor little guy.We saw two javelinas, but those little creatures are fast and camera shy. I tried to follow them through the desert brush, but I lost them quickly. Not only are they fast, they are mean so I gave up the chase.

No picnic is complete with out ants and....

a turkey buzzard! This is one UGLY bird.

Scenery, wildlife, and plants--oh, the endless number of different desert plants. I couldn't photograph them all.
This little beauty takes shelter under other bushes and vegetation.

Very pretty but DO NOT TOUCH!Okay okay. Enough of the pictures. Big Bend National Park gets two thumbs up from me and I have never been a desert lover. But I must say, this desert is full of hidden treasures. Just take my word for it--it is a nice place to visit even if you wouldn't want to live there!

From Big Bend we went to San Angelo and then on to Austin. Part 3 to be posted soon. Come back again!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Waltzing Across Texas (part 1)

Well, hello there! Yes, I know. It has been a while. Excuse me while I hang up my hat and knock the dust off of my boots. I've been waltzing across Texas.

Okay, maybe not exactly waltzing, but I've made my way across a good part of the state these last few weeks. Drag out your map of the greatest state in the USA and check out where I've been.
After a long summer of no work, hubby was finally deployed to a hail storm in El Paso mid September. (Answered prayer)
I stayed in Amarillo to help daughter #2 and my sweet granddaughters move away to be with their daddy. (It was a happy time for them but very sad for me.) I'm trying to be a grown-up about it all, but it's not easy. Remember my post about what seems good to some doesn't seem good to others?
Well, it is good for their family to be together following God's guiding hand, and I guess I'll live. But I surely miss having them around.
I spent a few days cleaning carpets and putting some of my furniture that had been in storage back in my house, then I was ready to be with my man. I set out from Amarillo on October 13th for El Paso via Greyhound bus. Now before you say anything, let me tell you that when I told some of my friends that I was going to ride the bus over 400 miles, I got a few doubting looks and discouraging remarks. (No, I'd never done Greyhound before.) So it was with great apprehension I climbed the steps and sat down in a seat as close to the front of the bus as possible. (I had been advised by my worried friends to try to sit up front for the sake of my safety and sanity.)

I decided--trying to look on the bright side--that if the bus trip turned out to be a bad decision, at least I would have something to blog about. Fortunately (but yet somewhat regrettably), the trip was simply long and dull. No one on the bus got rowdy, no one tried to steal my purse. It was not crowded so sweat and odors weren't a problem, and if you've ever driven from Amarillo to El Paso, you know there is not much to see except a lot of sand and a few small desert mountains. I even kept an eye out for little green men when the bus made a stop in Roswell, NM, but I didn't see any. I did encounter a couple of characters at the bus station in El Paso while I waited for hubby to pick me up. Just as I felt like I REALLY NEEDED TO GET OUT OF THERE my knight in his big blue truck came to my rescue. Whew!

While Rick finished up his last few days of work in El Paso, I hung out at the RV park.It really wasn't quite as bad as the sign said, but it was not a place I would want to retire! The sun was very intense even when the temperatures were mild. The park's brochure stated they had good shade.
Um hum. Never believe the brochures.As you can see, the spots were a little cramped, and the trees were about seven years away from making a good shadow.
The century plants were four feet tall (or taller) so maybe tucked beneath one of them was where I was supposed to find the shade.
The park had (as most parks do) a few coin-op washers and two dryers. One dryer melts clothes and the other just tumbles with no heat at all.I'm glad our rig is fully self-contained because the "facilities" weren't the best I've encountered.It wasn't a five-star resort, but it offered easy access to the interstate and was near most of the neighborhoods where Rick had claims. That made his commute time short and our time together longer.

If you've read my blog for a while you know I put out an effort to hunt for joy. Even in the desert of a place like El Paso, TX I found it. Riding down the highway I noticed the signs over the exits to the Mexican border. No fire arms allowed. I gave thanks to God for my right and freedom to own and possess a gun, to protect myself if need be. A quick glance across the border again brings thanksgiving for my home. Even my home on wheels is more comfortable and spacious than some of the homes just across the river. It was a good week.

Work done and "between storms" once again, we headed for Big Bend National Park.

(Check back for part 2 of Waltzing Across Texas.)