It was always the wrong time of the year, not enough time, out of the way to where I was headed, to long of a drive, or some other lame excuse. I now realize, after spending the past week in Big Bend National Park and the surrounding area, this procrastination was a mistake. The area has it all....vast open spaces, few people, wildlife and night skies second to none. It's an area I'll be back to as I didn't scratch the surface. Being in the Chinook there were many areas that I couldn't, or wouldn't attempt, and to really get the full effect of the area an off-road motorcycle or four-wheel drive is required. Both of which I've got so I have no reason not to return. I did unhook the trailer and leave it at a service area inside the park but didn't venture too far off the pavement, even without the trailer. Damn trailer is like dragging an anchor around with you. En-route to Texas and Big Bend National Park, I checked out White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns Both areas one can easily see in a day. Although I camped in the White Sands area for a few nights there really isn't much to see in the area other than the dunes. It's pretty, but it basically all looks the same. Miles and miles of white dunes. You do get some nice sunsets, sunrises and lighting off the dunes so it's certainly worth the stop. Caverns in Carlsbad are........caverns. Hike down about 800 ft under the surface, hike around in the caverns and hump back out of the hole. Caverns are worth a stop but I couldn't spend more than a day here. I guess if you're really into spelunking you could spend more time here but I'm not, so I hit it early in the morning and was back on the road by 11:00.
Entrance access by foot into Carlsbad Caverns. You can take an elevator down (over 800 ft down) which 99.9 % of the masses do, but I didn't want to stand in the line with screaming kids so I hiked in and hiked out. It's a hump coming out.
White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. No camping in the National Monument so I ended up staying on Holloman Air Force Base about 7 miles up the road. Drive into the Monument every morning for sunrise and then again in the evenings for photo hikes with Petey.
Finally got into Texas and headed into the Davis Mountain area for a couple of nights camping. Also spent a few hours touring Fort Davis, an old military fort that was established during the Indian Wars. Interesting touring the grounds and old structures.
Next stop was the highlight of the trip so far. Big Bend National Park but first I had to stop and check out the old ghost town of Terlinqua. The locals like to call it a ghost town but there are actually people, although not many, living here along with some small funky/artsy businesses. I'm assuming the designation of ghost town brings in the tourist. The central point in town is an old mercantile store and bar with a large porch. Everyone seems to gather here, tourists and locals alike, along with their dogs, to hang out, drink and shoot the shit. Quite a place to kill an afternoon. You can certainly meet some characters here with a few hours to kill. Day I hung out here the temps peaked around 100 degrees so the shaded porch was a welcome relief.
After spending a day and night in Terlinqua it was on to Big Bend National Park where I spent four nights. Having been to many of our National Parks I'd have to rate this one in the top three. It's got remote off-road camping, vast open spaces, is not overrun with people, with lots to explore. Most of our National Parks are now overrun with people, bus tours, damn gift shops and are set up to herd the people from one exhibit to the next. Don't even get me started on what tourist traps are jammed up right next to the parks. Due to this many are no longer enjoyable, at least to me, to visit during the peak season. Big Bend is one of those areas where it's a little bit of work to even get to so it keeps the hordes away. There's no Disney Land, fancy restaurants or mall nearby so the masses see no reason to come. The pictures below give a small sampling of what can be found.
Saint Elena Canyon - Mexico on the right with the USA on the left. You could wade across here so I made my first illegal crossing into Mexico.
Chiso Basin "The Window"
Rio Grande River
Cross country hike one evening near Cottonwood Springs
Chiso Basin area
Great Horned Owl above camp one afternoon
Old homestead on the Rio Grande. Bluffs in the foreground are in Mexico.
Wish we could have stayed longer but we're working our way towards Dallas/Forth Worth for the next tradeshow. More later.