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On our Way to Big Bend


Grafitti Tree at picnic spot near Big Bend

Driving to Big Bend from the far eastern part of Texas takes up most of two days. We had planned to listen to the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis but the radio converter could not be found; the truck was packed full but we forgot our guidebooks, the Roadside Geology book, and water repellant clothing. We chatted about what we might spend the time doing, and kept an eye out for the wind farms that keep sentinel watch on the bluffs near Fort Stockton. Since the port of Beaumont is actively involved in the transport of the parts of these windmills, we have an invested interest.

Our first night was spent in Sonora, a tiny little town in the desert. The only place open on a Sunday night was Pizza Hut. It was filled with a group of teenagers, several families, and a large group of retirees. The teenagers were all giggling and doing something with a flashlight under the table, and the retirees must have been telling really tall tales as there were gales of laughter.

A stop at Walmart in Fort Stockton provided some of the things we had forgotten, juice, chapstick, pajamas. The next leg of the trip is through ranch country with few travelers and little sign of civilization. We had hoped for desert blooms but the desert looks dry and there is a burn ban in effect.

Chisos Mining Company Motel or the Easter Egg Valley Motel is on the way to Ghost Town Terlingua. Our cabin, #17, is painted a bright green; the ones nearby are aqua, lavender, purple, yellow, and pink. The cabin is very simple with three beds, a small kitchenette and bath. There is no TV, no phone. We unpack the truck and Glen offloads the motorcycle to take a run up to the tour companies to inquire about a jeep rental for later on in the week.

We sign up for a canoe trip in Santa Elena Canyon and since we have a good three to four hours of sunlight left head to the park. A senior citizen annual park pass is only $10 instead of the $80 we had paid previously—a bargain but catch begin that he must be in the vehicle and if lost, there is no record of the card.

One of our favorite places in Big Bend is Dugout Wells. The site of a small settlement with a still actively working windmill, there is a small trail through the Chihuahan desert with the Chisos Mountains forming a spectacular backdrop. We surprised a small covey of quail, but we were too far away to get good photos. A shrike perched in the top of one of the shrubs and several mockingbirds flitted about.

Starlight Theatre was open for two burgers for the price of one, and the parking lot was packed. Hank, a local musician entertained us while we ate—with influences of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie.

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