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Back from Big Bend

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Offline OldJeepr

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Back from Big Bend
« on: June 16, 2010, 02:54:28 PM »
This may be a little different kind of Trip Report - not nearly as eloquent as most, but it's my first shot at it.  We planned a relaxed trip to Big Bend NP with an overnight excursion into BBRSP included in the itinerary.  A little background - my wife, Katy, and I first visited BIBE in 1962 on a delayed honeymoon trip and were fascinated by what we saw, and intrigued by what we did not.  We came back several times over the years with our children, then with grandchildren, revisiting favorite places, finding new sights, always knowing there was so much more.  Then there was a many year gap in the visits, until last year.  I picked up an old Jeep to explore backroads, and we somehow managed to get the whole family together for a trip, and had a great time.  Katy was somewhat limited that year, having problems with an arthritic hip.  The short walk along the paved Window View Trail was the extent of her hiking, and proved to be quite painful for her.  After we returned from that 2009 trip, and a visit with an orthopedic surgeon, she decided to have hip replacement surgery in early August.  Her recovery went so well that we decided to try again.

Day One - Tuesday, June 1
Up at the crack of dawn, last minute items to load, final check on the dogs, another last minute trip to the bathrooms, and we finally roll leisurely out of the driveway about 8:30am. 

The Trailer Queen ready to roll!



By the time we hit Houston, traffic had thinned out, so it was an easy roll through town on on out IH10.  Recent rains have the countryside looking pretty good, and still lots of wildflowers blooming on the side of the road.  Early lunch in Seguin, then up 46 through New Braunfels to Boerne.  Not sure if this saves any miles or time, but it sure beats pulling a trailer through San Antonio.  A long and uneventful drive to Fort Stockton, and a tired couple of old fogeys found a motel.

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2010, 03:28:09 PM »
Day Two - Wednesday - June 2
After a restless night (our problem not the motel's), a quick breakfast, pick up a forgotten item at WalMart, and we're on the road again. It's a nice drive from Fort Stockton to Marathon. Then Marathon to Persimmon Gap (are we there yet?) and check in time at the Park. Little confusion when I told the Ranger we needed to permit two vehicles, but we got that worked out, and headed for the Basin and our lodging. Our room wasn't ready, but was guaranteed for later in the day, so we had lunch. With time to kill, we offloaded the Jeep, parked the trailer, and went on the road to revisit some sights. Our first stop was at Dugout Wells. We had visited there many years ago, and I remembered it is a relatively cool, shady oasis in the desert. Well, it's still shady, but sure wouldn't want to picnic there now. We were swarmed by flies during our short walk, and beat a hasty retreat to the A/C in the truck. The windmill was turning, and putting out a trickle of water in fits and spurts - probably just enough to lure some wildlife in the evening hours.



We drove on down to RGV to take a look at the campsites and the picnic area. The RV campground had about a half dozen occupants, and is in good condition. The picnic area is lush and green, but no tables in sight. Back to the Basin and check in. The brief stop at Dugout Wells had shown us that we had to get acclimated to the heat, but the 36 steps from the parking area up to our Casa Grande Lodge room was a real indicator that all those trips from the computer to the beer box did nothing to condition these old legs. But, there was a welcoming committee of one:



After a good meal, a couple of cold ones on the porch outside our room, and a pretty good sunset, plans were set for the next day.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 03:48:12 PM by RichardM »

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2010, 04:16:29 PM »
This may be a little different kind of Trip Report - not nearly as eloquent as most, but it's my first shot at it.

I think it has been a great start, and I very much look forward to the rest of it!  :icon_biggrin:
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2010, 04:18:07 PM »
Day 3 - Thursday - June 3

A clear, cool morning after a good night's sleep and we are feeling great. & quick breakfast of coffee, breakfast bar and homemade muffins and we're ready to go! Now, we are on vacation, so there's no rushing around. We can't be very late! The Moon is still out there!



We manage to make it to the Window Trail trailhead in the campground by about 8:30, it's still cool, and we're on our way. We hiked the Window Trail on that first trip back in '62, so this was kind of a 'remember when' thing, and the first real test for the bionic woman's new hip. She opted for her aluminum cane instead of a staff, just in case.



At the first junction, we met a group of young folks in Americorps T-shirts, all carrying some sizeable packs, coming down from the group camp. We stepped aside to let them pass as their pace was noticeably quicker than ours. Each of them gave us a friendly smile and a cheery good morning. They rounded a bend in the trail and were quickly out of sight. We started to move on at our more sedate pace, and rounding the bend, met them coming back up hill at the same brisk pace they had going down. We joked with them as they passed about how quickly they had made it to the Window and back. Ah, to be that young again.
On we went, downhill in the cool air, enjoying the view.



After several stops, we were nearing the bottom and into the drainage, when we got our first surprise. They've got steps here now! Over, up, around boulders and small tinajas, all with water. Why, back in the day, we had to scramble over those rocks and get our feet wet! And it was 10 miles, uphill both ways! ((Thank you, whoever you are, for all that work))



And then we were at the Window.



We stayed well back from the polished rock and enjoyed the view. After the pictures were taken as proof the old folks could still make it, we started the return. All I can say is, bless whoever maintains this trail. Without the many stopping places with benches in the shade and convenient 'sitting rocks', we might have had to call for pack mules to haul our carcasses out. All that downhill getting there (you knew this was coming) is UPHILL going back. But we did make it.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 04:38:27 PM by RichardM »

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2010, 04:41:22 PM »
It's great to see your wife out there on the trail after her hip replacement.  I had my left hip replaced just two years ago, and am still waiting for the go-ahead on my right hip replacement (and I am less than 45 years old!).  My left hip feels as good as new now, and in another year or so you won't be able to keep up with her unless you start getting ready now!
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2010, 04:58:35 PM »
Day Four - Friday - June 4

With tired old legs still recovering from yesterday, we decided to do a backroad trip. Now, the Old Ore Road is one of my favorites, so that's where we headed. Back and side windows off, half doors on, top on for shade, ice chest loaded (water and powerade) and the old Jeep is ready to ride. Although the Dagger Flat road is closed for repair, the Ranger had advised that it was open until the turn off to Old Ore. The road is rough is spots, with a few minor washouts to make it a little more challenging. It's rated High Clearance, but 4x4 is nice to have. The changing scenery along this road is what really attracts my attention. From flat desert terrain on the North end, you soon see large, deep canyons (valleys?) with multi colored formations. And the views of the Chisos from many places really give meaning to the 'Island in the Sky'. The geology changes constantly along the route.





As does the vegetation, but this guy gets my award for sheer tenacity it survival:



We had hoped to do some short side trip hikes, but since we (again) got a rather late start, by the time we reached the La Noria-Ernst Tinaja area, the heat was becoming a real factor. We heard later that the unofficial high in the desert that day was 116*. When we finally reached the southern end and headed back to the Basin, the wind blowing through the Jeep was almost like being in front of a huge hair dryer. We didn't get a lot of still pictures on this drive, and I'm still working my way through the video from my homemade "dash-cam". One thing we learned for sure: Katy can hike, but she's not a Jeep Girl.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 05:00:57 PM by RichardM »

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2010, 05:15:53 PM »
OMG!!  I can't keep up with her now!  We went to a granddaughters college graduation at SFA in Nacogdoches several weeks ago, and had to park about a mile away from the auditorium.  We were running a little behind schedule, and that woman was not to be denied.  She set a pace that had the rest of us gasping.  I am constantly amazed at the result of that surgery and the speed of her recovery. 

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2010, 05:55:28 PM »
Day 5 - Saturday - June 5

After a couple of days of strenuous (for us) activity, we decided to take it easy for a while.  After breakfast, we decided to take a short stroll around the Window View trail to loosen up a little, and see if there was anyplace Katy might want to set up her easel and do a little painting.  This turned out to be an amusing little walk.  There were several javelinas meandering through the brush, and then this guy steps out onto the walkway, munching on a prickly pear.  He was not the least bit intimidated by our presence, and proceeded to finish off his breakfast, then paw (hoof?) away the spines in his mouth.



It became a joke the next day when Katy began telling the kids about her encounter with a "jalapeno pig".  She corrected herself, "javelina", but it was too late.  When we arrived home several days later, our oldest granddaughter, who didn't make this trio, had strategically placed a stuffed toy javelina and a large jalapeno pepper on the kitchen counter to welcome her grandmother home.
After our little walk, we decided to take the Ross Maxwell Drive down to Santa Elena.  We didn't make many stops along the way, as we have made this trip many times, but still enjoy the scenery.  Arriving at Santa Elena, we were surprised to find that Terlingua Creek was totally dry, and the Rio Grande was more like a small creek.  We had never seen it that low. 





We discussed hiking into the canyon, but decided our legs weren't up to it this day.  We really wanted to check out the 'fish'.  On our first trip there back in '62, we took some pictures of what appeared to be a large fish fossil high up on one of the rocks past the end of the regular trail.  I've never seen anything about it anywhere, and have been wondering for years.  Somewhere in a stack of old 8mm films I have that picture.  Has anyone else seen it, or am I just a crazy old coot with too much imagination?

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2010, 06:31:52 PM »
OMG!!  I can't keep up with her now!  We went to a granddaughters college graduation at SFA in Nacogdoches several weeks ago, and had to park about a mile away from the auditorium.  We were running a little behind schedule, and that woman was not to be denied.  She set a pace that had the rest of us gasping.  I am constantly amazed at the result of that surgery and the speed of her recovery. 

Haha  :rolling:
That's awesome!!!  :icon_biggrin:
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2010, 07:20:22 PM »
Bring it on, Jeepr..so far so good. I hope to read soon when you took the jeep out of the trailer.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline OldJeepr

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2010, 07:27:51 PM »
Day 6 - Sunday - June 6

Really, another day of rest. After reading A Homesteader's Story by J.O. Langford, another trip to Hot Springs was mandatory. Just trying to put yourself in their shoes in that desolate area.





Time to move to the motel. We couldn't get reservations for the same room for the whole stay. Oh well, the nights are getting a little warmer now, so the A/C will be appreciated. Time for a long afternoon nap then a quick run out to Pine Canyon Road to see how rough it really is. Now, this may be getting a little boring as far as trip reports go, but we were here to relax and enjoy ourselves - and that's just what we did. Son, Daughter and families are coming in this afternoon.

Day 7 - Monday - June 7
My son has done a lot of modifications on his Jeep Cherokee, and wanted to try it out on the Black Gap Road, so that's the plan for the day. This is in preparation for a couple of days running backroads at BBRSP. I'm still, slowly, working my through the video editing thing, but when finished, we'll have a tour via video cam.

Still to come: Pine Canyon Family Tour and some highlights from BBRSP
« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 09:33:01 PM by RichardM »

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Offline Terlingua50337

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2010, 08:06:31 PM »
Good Stuff  :eusa_clap:

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Offline Al

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2010, 09:09:49 PM »
Oldjeepr, Thanks I needed that!

Al

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2010, 10:10:34 PM »
A very enjoyable trip report with plenty of pics!  Thank you for sharing.  Makes me wish I could trailer my Dad's '05 Wrangler (one of the last of the inline 6 cylinders) out there for some backcountry fun.

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chisos_muse

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Re: Back from Big Bend
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2010, 10:23:21 PM »
This is a first rate trip report and plenty eloquent!  :eusa_clap: Very enjoyable, OJ!

 


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