Big Bend and Beyond

Big Bend and Beyond

Makes one feel small eh Phil? (Look right on the cliff)

It seemed like we could see forever. A varied landscape of mountains and desert, badlands and volcanic landscape. Absolutely stunning!

Arriving at Big Bend National Park

We had an early start from Seminole Canyon and only a short drive to Big Bend National Park. We set up camp in the Chisos Basin campground, and took advantage of our early arrival by going on a hike recommended by the ranger in the visitor center: The Lost Mine Trail.

A five mile round trip, it was a fabulous suggestion. Great views, lots of different cacti and other flora, and a beautiful day.

No small children allowed due to mountain lions. We had bear spray in case it tried to attack our 6 ft 5 small child.

Phil takes a break

Phil’s lost an antler

Mountain top workout

Contrary to appearances, this is a picture of the multi-coloured triangle of rock on the hillside.

We had a furry visitor to our campsite that evening before we went to hear the Ranger talk about her “Big Bend Top 10″ (an excellent presentation, despite the chill in the air).

It was with some trepidation that Jayne put her hand on the line for this picture.

Our visit to Big Bend was all to short, however the chill from the night before worsened  and the weather really wasn’t tempting us to attempt a longer hike.

Instead we rode through the park to make sure we caught a glimpse of the Rio Grande and Mexico on the opposite shore. It is a Federal offense to cross the river, even if you come straight back again.

Our first glimpse of the Rio Grande. I told Phil to act like a Mexican. He is taking a siesta. (I had to ask)

At the Ranger talk we learnt about the Century Cactus, which lives for 10-50 years, and then, just before it dies, grows a long flowering spine. This grows at a rate of an inch an hour! The nectar of these flowers is highly sought after by many animals, including humming birds and bats.

Century Cactus (Agave) in bloom

I liked this story. It was as if this cactus lives it’s whole life building up to this one beautiful, glorious orgasm.

A man in the audience told us where one was in bloom, so we went to check it out.

A cactus having an orgasm. No comment on what Phil’s up to.

Also along our ride out of the park (which was slightly lengthened by a road that had been washed out) we saw the Santa Elena Canyon, said to be impassable by boat by early explorers. Now people do it for fun!

Santa Elena Canyon – a river runs through it.

Our next destination was to stay with a couchsurfer in Columbus, New Mexico. The ride there was windy, and freezing. I had heated handgrips on high, and put on my heated vest. It made our decision not to hike an extremely good one.

I counted down the miles out of the vast, flat desert and into town. Even hot chocolate and fried catfish at a gas station was an extremely welcome break.

Gas station fried catfish

We had a tragic loss on that day as well. Our GoPro HD video camera snapped off it’s mount on Phil’s handlebars somewhere between mile 102 and 105 somewhat near Van Horn on the I-10. We spent 45 minutes going back up and down the busy interstate trying to find it, but to no avail. Once again it is the loss of the videos saved on the SD card that we mourn more than the actual camera.

Where our GoPro used to live.

We continue to have to prove our citizenship on a regular basis at border control checkpoints along the highway. Perhaps that is what this blimp was doing in the middle of nowhere as well…

A blimp in the desert.

Just after dark we were welcomed to the City of the Sun by Fran our new host. We had no idea of what a fascinating, inspiring place and person we were about to encounter.