Big Bend

The one hour drive to Marathon, Texas – about half way to Big Bend National Park – was one through the early morning mist among the mooing cows out in the desert.

A quick stop in Marathon for a coffee and supplies.

And here we go! According to their website, this is "where night skies are dark as coal and rivers carve temple-like canyons in ancient limestone. Here, at the end of the road, hundreds of bird species take refuge in a solitary mountain range surrounded by weather-beaten desert. Tenacious cactus bloom in sublime southwestern sun, and diversity of species in the best in the country. This magical place is Big Bend." 1,200 species of plants, 56 species of reptiles, 75 species of mammals, and covering over 800,000 acres, we set out to explore.

We came upon this man standing right at the cliff edge, wearing this shirt, looking through binoculars, just waiting for me to sneak up and take the picture. It was too perfect.

 

  

  

 

 

Gorgeous flowers, but watch out for those thorns! You couldn't take a single step without scanning the ground, lest you step on one of these. (Or worse, a snake.)

  

Bluebonnets, the Texas state flower, were in full bloom, providing a foreground echo of the blue-purple tones of the mountains in the distance.

 

 

 

 

The Rio Grande divides Mexico and the U.S. for over 1,000 miles and Big Bend National Park runs more than 100 miles along that boundary. Like something out of a fairy tale, a massive, imposing, endless, vertical cliff makes an actual wall between us and Mexico, so we had to stop at the Santa Elena Canyon to see if we could get a peek through it.

This woman was doing the exact same thing. It would have been nice to hike into the canyon, but we had to get back on the road since we still had over two hours of driving to get back home.

 The last seven miles through the park were unpaved along Old Maverick Road. It was one of our favorite stretches of the park, with a new kind of landscape and an even larger array of colorful cacti flowers and plants.

We marched up a mountain to admire the view from the top. It went on forever and ever in all directions. I wish I could have better captured the scale.

A little family of donkeys smiled at us as we drove to Terlingua Ghost Town. This was the baby.

Seven hours of driving and we still had a couple more to go on the final stretch to Presidio and beyond.

 

 

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We saw more of these signs than speed limit signs. And hardly any other cars. Lots and lots of cattle, though.