December 14th marked my two month anniversary on the road. This short time has, without a doubt, been the most incredible life enriching experience I’ve ever had. To have the opportunity to live life exactly as you want for anytime longer than a weekend is special. We work all year to take that vacation, and what do we do on that vacation? We be ourselves. By keeping up with the daily exploring and writing posts to describe what I saw, my trip has had a bit of structure to it. That’s fine with me though. Keeping up with this blog has been the best “pseudo job” that I’ve had. I love it. Why can’t I make a career out of this style of life? If there is a way, I will find it. Finally, I’m doing something that I like and it doesn’t bother me one bit to put in a couple of hours a day to make a post.
In the short time here at Big Bends, Rio Grande Village, I’ve developed a routine. I guess it’s just natural and maybe a bit practical to start everyday out in a similar fashion. That morning I did my usual. Hunt down some coffee at the campground store, connect to the internet, and talk with a few of my campground mates, who I’m getting to know a little bit. In fact, some of the other more long-term RV folks tend to do a similar routine. Some get coffee and some come to the store just for laundry or wi-fi. Whatever the case may be, I welcome the friendly encounters. Being that I haven’t seen anyone I know since Houston, it’s kind of nice to have a smidgen of stability. After the morning pow-wow at the pavilion (store), the plan was to pack up and drive SIXTY THREE miles to the other side of the park. 63 miles just to get to the other side of the park is amazing. Back home in Harpers Ferry WV, I could drive 63 miles and be in Washington DC. Things are so compact on the east and incredibly vast out here. One fellow that I met at the campground store, Wiley, described Big Bend as the continental US’s “last frontier”. It is massive, but believe it or not it’s only the nations 15th largest park. Kudos to the government for protecting so much land. They did at least one thing right. Anyway, on the other side of the park is Santa Elena Canyon. It was created over millions of years as the rather narrow Rio Grande sliced and diced her way through the rock. Riding up to the canyon looks as though you are headed toward a massive plateau. Sheer vertical cliffs a few hundred feet high create a perfect wall, highlighting Mexico’s border with the USA. On one side you have the cliffs and on the other, you have gentle rolling desert. It quite dramatic. As I approached Santa Elena I noticed some livestock roaming the desert. A few horses, pretending to be billy goats, were scaling the walls of the cliffs looking for some vegetation. That was so odd to see. Goats with bells attached to their necks grazed just ahead of their Mexican herders and a few rebellious, Mexican, cattle illegally crossed the Rio Grande for some tasty American plants. I’m sure they made it back across the river with no fines later on in the day. Finally I made it to the canyon. What a sight to see! When you see the pictures, remember that Mexico makes up the left side of the canyon wall and the USA is the other. There is a short trail that weaves its way up and down the cliffs and along the sandy shore of the river. I hiked back as far as I could before the rock walls combined with the river, ending the trail. On the way out I met a fellow from Kentucky and his wife, and a few other couples from the semi-nearby town of Marathon. This is my first real canyon of the trip and it gets me stoked for the granddaddy of them all in a few weeks, the Grand Canyon.
There is another canyon in the park just a few miles from Rio Grande Village called Boquillas Canyon and I planned to see that one too. I got really sidetracked on the ride back from Santa Elena though, and didn’t make it with enough time to hike Boquillas. It was late in the day and the light was so good on the ride back that I could barely ride a mile without stopping to take a picture. The colors were phenomenal! Green cliff walls, bright red mineral deposits on the edge of mountains, bleached white ancient volcanic ash, purple cacti and purple rock, and a crazy guy in a blue hoodie there taking it all in. The deserts array of colors were the highlight of the day for sure. I ended up taking 136 pictures in total and if it wouldn’t take a whole day, I’d upload every one of them. My night ended with a huge burrito and hanging out like the village bum at the campground store with a few new friends.
(I’ve updated my facebook status to public. I didn’t know that it has been set to private this whole time, so if I’ve met you on the road, look me up. I would love to keep in touch. Thanks Roger and Jerry for helping me realize that.)