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Big Bend Day Two or What shall we do First?


With temps in the high twenties. It was hard to be excited about going anywhere. Our cabin is a bit chilly particularly on the floor and my rheumatoid arthritis was complaining bitterly.

However, after a breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, and toast we set out.  Our first stop was at Panther Junction ranger station to get our stamps in our National Park Passport—a silly thing but something that is fun to keep up.

Dugout Wells is one of my favorite spots in Big Bend. The windmill is still churning, and I was able to capture the shadow of its movement. The Chihuahuan desert trail features placards identifying the plants; one year we spotted quail hurrying along but were not fast enough to capture them in photographs. Wind and still chilly temps made sitting and sketching not enticing. There is only one cottonwood tree left; the whisper of the rustling leaves is what I remember of that place.

cotton wood tree trunk

Old Ore Road was our next stop, hoping to hike up the Ernst Tenaha—another favorite place. After bouncing up the road to the first parking area, we chatted with some bicyclists and then decided to check out road conditions at a ranger station.

Rio Grande Village station was close, checked out the store looking for sweatshirts—-they had changed to their summer merchandise so no luck. The ranger was at lunch and so we had lunch too sitting on the end-gate of my truck.

A flood in October had made many of the roads difficult for non 4-wheel drive vehicles—my F250 is 2 wheel– high clearance—almost 600,000 miles on it but I was reluctant to take a chance on that road. Maybe we will hike it on another day.

Boquillos Canyon is on the southeast side of the park. It offers a great view of the Rio Grande—so shallow, barely ankle high, wading across is easy. Lots of merchandise was laid out on the overlook—walking sticks on the pathways up the overlook—a great marketing strategy. Embroidered aprons and tortilla covers and some wooden headed dolls were so tempting but illegal—Crossing the border requires passports and ours were still at home.

Our last stop was at Nugent Mountain. This is a primitive camping site located off an even more primitive road. On a  previous trip, the camper had invited me into her RV for hot chocolate and conversation while Glen drove the trail. The camper this time was not at ‘home’ and so we parked on one side.  Glen had brought his electric bicycle and I had brought art supplies—it would be a shame if neither of used those things—so I sat and sketched, and Glen rode his bicycle—we both noted that ten years made a significant difference in our activity level.

Our supper was a frozen pizza and a bottle of Malbec wine—the most expensive wine I have ever bought.

Tomorrow is a new day—we plan to spend the day in Santa Elena Canyon, Mules Ear, and Tuff Canyon.

And just because I know you all want to hear and see a windmill’s shadow.

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