Archive for December, 2008

New Year’s Eve in Terlingua

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

 

Blue skies and mountains again...

Blue skies and mountains again...

On New Years Eve day, Chris once again headed out solo to tackle the less developed roads in the park.  He had a great time working his way through the sandy washes and rocky landscape.  As always he had to capture some of the great views for posterity. While Chris had his fun, Kim stayed home and slaved over a hot stove baking her “world famous” chocolate chip cookies. Alright, maybe not world famous, but her friends may be jealous.  First attempt at baking in the camper was a success.

Having some fun after dinner with Gary, John, Patti, Polly, June, and Gwen

Having some fun after dinner with Gary, Polly, Patti, John, June, and Gwen

 

New Year’s Eve was celebrated with our “new best friends”.  After enjoying a yummy steak dinner, everyone had some fun getting into the spirit of things.

Where's Larry?

Where is Larry?

Kayaking the Rio Grande in Big Bend Ranch SP

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Today was 75 and sunny.  We had a great day floating down the Rio Grande in Big Bend Ranch State Park.  We started from Grassy Banks and worked our way down to Lajitas.  Our friends June, Polly, John, and Larry helped out by dropping us off on top.  Thanks again guys!!! Great views, great weather, great day.  

Having never really kayacked before on a river, this was a new experience to us.  The fiirst few sets of rapids got the adrenaline flowing even though they were rated no higher than a 2 out of 5. 

We stopped for a snack and checked out the old movie set for Contrabando.  Too bad the recent flood has done so much damage…

While exiting the river at the take out, Kim started to float away without her paddle (yes, Kim was up a creek wthout a paddle, ha, ha). She had a choice of trying to grab the paddle or risk going downstream without one.  Unfortunately, while grabbing for the paddle she went for an unexpected swim. Chris too had a choice… grab the camera or give Kim a hand.  Once he realized she would live to see tomorrow the camera won out.

Another memorable day in Big Bend

Monday, December 29th, 2008
 
Kim and Chris above the Window at the summit of the hike.
Kim and Chris above the Window at the summit of the hike.
Today we headed out to hike “The Window”.  This is a popular hike that generally starts in the Chisos Basin, which heads down the the Window..  We decided to come from the backside of the window on a trail called Oak Springs.  There was a lot of up for the first half of the hike, but well worth the views once we arrived. We had fun trying to get the timer shot of the day but faced the challenge of a low camera battery. 
Rediscovering the joys of a simple P, B and J while enjoying the views.

Rediscovering the joys of a simple P, B and J while enjoying the views.

Looking out the Window.

Looking out the Window.

The view into the Chisos Basin from the summit was an awesome place to have lunch.  We then walked down to the actual window, which was quite an inpressive view.  
 
 
 
 
 
Jurrasic grasshopper on the trail up to the Window

Jurrasic grasshopper on the trail up to the Window

On our way we added to the wildlife pictures as you can see with our Jusasic Grasshopper.  We forgot to add something to show scale, but he was about 4 inches long. 

Cattail Falls pool.

Cattail Falls pool.

After retuning most of the way back to the truck, we decided to add a few miles to our day and go to see the Cat Tail Falls.  The falls weren’t that impressive but there was a great little oasis, with a stream and tons of greenery.  It is amazing the different topography in the park.  Total mileage for the day was 8.1 and we were tired when we were done!

Chris resting up for the next hike.

Chris resting up for the next hike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our day ended going out for 2Fer’s (burger night at the Starlight Theatre) with June, John and their friends who just came in, Polly and Larry.  A good time was had by all.

Still enjoying Big Bend, Texas

Sunday, December 28th, 2008
Chris on the rocks behind the BBMI campground. See him in the middle of the picture?

Chris on the rocks behind the BBMI campground. See him in the middle of the picture?

Since Christmas we have been enjoying Terlingua and the Big Bend area. We have spent time with our new friends, taking walks out back behind the campground and breaking bread at dinner time. It’s amazing the things you can find in the desert… This area has been an ocean on two different occasions. If you look closely you can find sharks teeth, petrified woods, and shells in the dust.
Pretty colors in the desert.

Pretty colors in the desert.

On Sunday Chris took another ride, this time with his knobbies.  He didn’t find exactly what he was looking for but is hoping to get another trip in before we leave the area.

 

The desert behind the BBMI campground.

The desert behind the BBMI campground.

  

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

HO, HO, HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Thursday, December 25th, 2008
Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas to All

John and June prepare the feast

John and June prepare the feast

We wanted to add to our post today as things didn’t turn out as planned.  Thanks to our new friends, John and June, we had a traditional turkey dinner and spent the day at the campground getting in the “spirit” of the season.

Smoked turkey and all the fixins yum...

Smoked turkey and all the fixins yum...

June, Gwen, and Kim have some fun

June, Gwen, and Kim have some fun

Kim showing off her souvenir hat from Big Bend

Kim showing off her souvenir hat from Big Bend

Day 5/6 at Big Bend National Park, Texas

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Day 5 was a travel day if you can call it that.  We packed up and moved about 60 miles to the other side of the park.  For those of you fighting the weather… sorry, it was sunny and reached 80 degrees in the valley where our new temporary home is.  We are staying in the Study Butte/Terlingua area just outside the west entrance and not too far from the Big Bend Ranch State Park, which we plan on checking out on Christmas day.  Once settled we explored the local flair and found a great place to relax and enjoy the sunset views called the Terlingua Ghost Town Trading Post.  Our day ended at another interesting place, La Kiva (the cave), where we had some dinner.

Day 6, today, was sunny and 70’s.  We can get used to this.  I can’t remember the last Christmas Eve that I wore a tank top and climbed a mountain.  Today we rode into the park on the bikes once again.  We finally did our first real hike.  The Lost Mine Trail is about 5 miles round trip.  The views were incredible and we got some great shots.  After our hike we treated ourselves to a pint of ice cream in the Chisos Basin.  We headed home and decided to stop in Terlingua Ghost Town to see what was happening on Christmas Eve.  We happened upon a few fellow riders and got an invite to their home base.  Chris may have some friends to ride with after all… 

 We hope everyone is having as great of a Christmas Eve as we are.

Day 4 at Big Bend National Park, Texas

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Day four was the same temp as day three….cold (we woke up to 35 degrees, with a high of 50). Kim decided it was a good day to do laundry and clean the RV before we move to the other side of Big Bend. Chris took this opportunity to head out on his motorcycle to avenge Kim’s demise on the Old Ore road a couple days ago. Kim was good enough to actually agree to this:)

Big Bend has many ‘unimproved’ dirt roads, requiring high clearance vehicles. Some require 4 wheel drive, perfect for the KTM 950! As you know by now, all these roads have great views. The Old Ore road was conquered quickly and Chris proceeded to River road and Black Gap road in the southern section of the park. Along the way, Chris happened upon the ruins of the Mariscal Mine which used to produce Quicksilver (Mercury) Ore. As you can see by the warning sign below, that stuff is dangerous.

Black Gap road was a hoot! Chris tried to get some pictures depicting the quality of the road, but they all made it look flat. All the roads had washes and sand, which kept things interesting, but Black Gap Road had these on steroids (it is marked as ‘not maintained’). Large washouts with steep entries and exits along with large rain ruts and boulders made this road a lot of fun.

Day 3, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Sunday, December 21st, 2008
Oh the places we will go

Oh the places we will go

Day three was a bit cooler than the past two and we woke up to 35 degrees (high of 53).  Rumor has it we are still having a heat wave compared to home.  We heard there is a major snowstorm… Hope all are warm and safe.  Today we headed out in the truck to check out possible camp sites for later this week and to get in some hiking.  We stopped at Rio Grande Village, taking the last major road we had not yet explored on the bikes.

HO HO HO Merry Christmas, Kim and Chris in the Hot Spring

HO HO HO Merry Christmas, Kim and Chris in the Hot Spring

After that we checked out the Old Hot Springs where we met a nice couple from Ohio, Peggy and Joe.  They were nice enough to share their Santa hats for our hot spring photo.  The water gets up to 105 degrees.

Ms. Smiths shop at the Hot Spring

Ms. Smiths shop at the Hot Spring

The Hot Spring area was the site of a spa with lodging and shopping many years ago. The place Chris and Kim are standing in the water was actually the ruins of the old bathhouse. Kim is standing in the doorway of the old store.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

From there we headed to the Grapevine Hills Trail that leads to Balanced Rock. This was a great canyon with colorful and shapely rock formations.  It was quite chilly and as you can see by Kim’s hair, quite windy…

Talk about bad hair days or a hair raising experience...

Talk about bad hair days or a hair raising experience...

Roadrunner

Roadrunner

Yes, roadrunners do run across the road.  This little guy was quite quick but we got him at the last minute…. Kim felt like Wile E. Coyote trying to track him down for the shot even if it’s not the best- they are fast!!! (Kim could have used some “rocket skates” from Acme…)  We know… some of the younger readers will not get this.

Day 2 at Big Bend National Park, TX

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Day two was as great as day one.  View, after view, after view…  After having pancakes and sausages with our new friend Dave from San Antonio we headed out on the bikes again.  We did over 180 miles, thankfully mostly on roads that allowed Kim’s bike to stay upright.  We bumped into friends (Ontario) from our last campsite on our journey who were enjoying the scenery as much as we were.  It’s really amazing how small the world can be.  We visited Santa Elena Canyon via the Ross Maxwell scenic drive, Study Butte via the Old Maverick road (dirt), and briefly stopped at the Terlingua Ghost Town today. 

We bumped into a few other motorcycle riders who were very friendly and very excited about riding in the area.  Looking forward to more… 

The next few days are supposed to be cooler so we plan to do some hiking and explore more of the park with the truck.

Day 1 at Big Bend National Park, Texas

Friday, December 19th, 2008
First, we want to say hello to ALL of the students in Ms. Benson’s class in Spencerport.  We are so happy you are enjoying our website and learning from our adventures.  There are way too many questions to answer but we will try and be sure to include exciting things that you all may enjoy.
Campsite at Stillwell Store
Campsite at Stillwell Store

We arrived on Thursday evening and again set up in record time.  The Stillwell Store was pretty empty and we had our pick of sites.  We noticed a fellow camper from our previous location, who had also made his home here. We didn’t know it then but we would be inviting him for breakfast on Saturday.

Entering the Park
Entering the Park

Finally, the weather cooperated and we headed out on the bikes. 

Kim enjoy's one of the billions of picturesque vistas
Kim enjoying one of the billions of picturesque vistas

First day at Big Bend was great.  We set out into the park which was about 9 miles from our campsite.  Once in the park, it was still quite a drive to get to the good stuff.  We decided to try an off the beaten path road called Ore road. The first 8 miles or so were great, however the trail got tougher as we went on.  Although Kim insisted on trying it, things didn’t go as planned, as you can see by the location of her bike.  That was one of 4 dumps for the day and a few good bruises to show for it.  The views however were well worth it.  We also had the pleasure of chatting with two couples (Ontario and Texas) who were 4 wheeling and lunching on the trail. 
Kim dumps her bike for the first time on Orr road
Kim dumps her bike for the first time on Old Ore Road

 

Timer shot in front of Casa Grande in the Chisos Basin
Timer shot in front of Casa Grande in the Chisos Basin

 

 
 After we made our way out of Orr road we headed for the Chisos Basin. Holy Cow!!!!This place is tremendous. The pictures cannot do justice to the majestic views.

 

 

Big Bend is one of he largest but less traveled of the National Parks. All we can say is you really should find a way to check it out. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the park looks like.

View of the Window from Chisos Basin
View of the Window from Chisos Basin