Day 18 – Thursday – July 8, 2010
0630 Alarm goes off. Too early! Take a shower and start packing then wake up the kids.
0730 Leaving the hotel.
Stop at Jack in the Box for breakfast. The service is slow and no one really like their food much except me. Oh well.
0813 Betty Lou called to tell me that there is flooding along the Rio Grande and more rain in the forecast.
0858 Pass a semi loaded with pallets of onions.
0909 Border Patrol checkpoint
0937 Time change – now it is 1037
1043 Van Horn, TX. Gas, $2.69/gallon
1132 Ryan Ranch
1134 Looks like a blimp up ahead. It is at an Air Force facility.
Pass through Marfa – Ron takes a few pictures.
12:22 p.m. McD’s in Alpine, TX. Current weather, 73 degrees and cloudy. Gas, $2.74/gallon. We take our lunch to the Railroad Park to eat then visit the book store across the street. On our way to the bookstore, the Amtrak train pulls into town. We missed seeing it at the park by just a few minutes.
1:45 p.m. Back on the road. Ron picked up Subway sandwiches for dinner while the kids and I were at the bookstore. It is 108 miles to Big Bend. Looks pretty cloudy and rainy off that way. Will we get wet today?
2:40 p.m. I keep seeing random RV’s pulled off and set up along the road. Why did they decide to set up there?
3:03 p.m. Arrive at Big Bend National Park. Temperature, 87 degrees. The gate is unattended so we can’t pick up a map. Bummer.
3:47 p.m. Stop at the Castalon Visitor Center. It is closed for the season and will re-open November 1. Exactly the opposite of what is normally considered “the season”.
4:09 p.m. The road is flooded. Eek! That one was deeper than the previous flooded section. And we need a carwash for sure after spraying up all that muddy water!
4:11 p.m. Made it to the Santa Elena canyon overlook. Temperature 93 degrees. We refill all the water bottles before we take off again.
4:20 p.m. Headed for the mountain campground now.
4:24 p.m. Stop at the river access point. We wanted to dip our toes in the river but it is much too muddy. Ron slips on the mud and almost falls in! Looks like we are not dipping our toes in the Rio Grande today.
5:23 p.m. Panther Junction Visitor Center.
5:48 p.m. Just as we are about to leave the visitor center, it starts to pour down rain. We wait for a couple minutes for it to let up then we head out to the car. We get halfway to the car and it starts to pour again. Yikes! Run! That rain is sneaky. Ryan said, “just when you thought it was safe to go outside…” Gotcha! Says the rain. We decide to drive to the Rio Grande Village instead of up the mountain since it is raining on our campground right now. Hopefully it will be dry later.
5:50 p.m. And now the sun is shining…
6:13 p.m. There are vultures hanging out at the picnic/campground area by the river. I don’t think that’s a good sign…
6:48 p.m. Leaving the picnic area. The crows and the ants are already eating our crumbs. While we were here, we walked down to the river. Ron saw something crawl out of the river into the reeds. Are there crocodiles in the Rio Grande river? Then Ron threw a rock across the river. Almost hit Mexico but was a couple feet short. It was still too muddy to get down to the edge of the river. Bella was worried about the javelinas coming to get us (there was a warning sign on the picnic tables) the whole time. Now that the rain has stopped and things are drying up, we need to head back up to the mountain campground and try to get the tent set up before it rains again.
7:22 p.m. Headed up to Chisos Basin, finally. This is quite a large park! The sign says that this is bear and mountain lion territory.
7:37 p.m. We have arrived at the campground and are waiting for Ron to complete his campsite inspections to find the best spot available.
Set up camp and go for a hike. Not too far down the trail is a sign that warns of mountain lions. Do not hike with small children. Do not hike in the evening. Okay then – guess we’ll be heading back to camp! We go to the Ranger program instead. The Park Ranger gave an excellent talk on the history of the Texas Rangers.
10:50 p.m. Back in our tent and all settled in for the night. It is very windy and the big gusts make me wonder if we are going to blow away while we sleep!