Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, totally worn out, shouting "Wow...What a Ride!"

Thursday, October 19, 2017

On To Big Bend National Park

October 15-19, 2017


We left Gulf Waters in Port Aransas TX right about 9am, after an uneventful ride, we arrived at South Llano River State Park in Junction TX about 1:30. Lots of people trying to check in, the first site, 31, they gave didn't work. Our power is in the back and the power pedestal was about halfway between the back of the pad and the road, we had to back in as far as we could because of the shortness and narrowness of the site.

We talked with a host and they said we could park on one of the ADA sites which they had 3 of. These sites are wider so we wouldn't have to park the truck right in front of the rv. Texas state parks are going to a reservation by site system, if you come here with a big rig find a site with parking nearby because you won't fit. Also be aware that there is no cell service in the park, we did have satellite service and we knew coming in we'd be disconnected from the outside world.

Monday - Remember the Jello

Up and ready to go around  8am, Dave says the truck is throwing a DEF system code, in 100 miles speed will be limited to 65mph and after another 100 will be limited to 55mph. We've got know cell service here so we can't stay here. Get up on I10 and finally got a call out to the Ft Stockton Chevy dealer, they can't get us in for 3 weeks...yikes that won't work we need to figure out a plan. Pulled off in Sonora where we had a good signal, found All American Chevrolet in San Angelo TX.  They could get us in as soon as we got there and had a place we could park the rv. So 65 miles north we went to San Angelo, we arrived right around 10am and soon had the truck in the shop. We did some window shopping, got a quick bite to eat, sat in the lounge where we could see the truck, about 12:30 we talked with our service advisor and he said it would be a few more hours. Decided to go sit in the rv for awhile, about 15 minutes later our tech was knocking on the door and we were ready to go. We can't say enough how much we appreciated them getting us in and taken care of so quickly.

By 1pm we were back on the road and Big Bend was still 315 miles away, ETA 6:30pm. If all went well we'd be there before dark, so off we went. I took a spell driving from Ft Stockton to Alpine but when the sign said we were now on the Texas Mountain Trail I thought it was time for me to be done. It was a hilly ride all the way to Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas TX between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. We arrived by 6:20pm with plenty of time to set up in the daylight., we will be here for 4 nights. Another one of those jello days.
Site 82 Maverick Ranch RV Park


We were up and out by 9am and headed to Big Bend National Park, the ranger at the entrance station didn't know how to process our volunteer pass which was fine as we planned to go to the Panther Junction Visitor Center first and figure out how we would plan our 2 days we'd have in Big Bend NP. Since we didn't get an early start we decided to do some of the auto touring with a few hikes thrown in. We took a ride down to the Rio Grande Village but the area is all closed up except for the FHU parking lot camping area and the small store.
We then drove to Boquillas Canyon to hike the trail down to the Rio Grande River. Along the way we encountered a Mexican gentleman selling trinkets and singing. It's against the law for them to be here or to buy from them, we saw the canoe which the gentleman used to cross the river, there's a shack across the river they must use for something. The 1.6 mile roundtrip took us down to the Rio Grande River where we enjoyed the company of seeing some of the local wildlife down at the river. 

After our canyon hike we continued our auto tour, heading back to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. We've had some recommendations from friends on what hikes to do here in Big Bend NP, one of those was the Burrows Mesa Pour-off Trail. We opted to do the upper trail which entailed a 1.8 mile hike down the wash that forms the pour-off. As we neared the end of the trail we met a young couple, Brendan and Chloe, who had stopped there, they were trying to figure out where the end might be. We all continued on down the trail, ran into another couple coming up the trail who said we were almost there. We made it to the pour-off where you could get some expansive views. We started walking out with our new friends, when we got to the scrambling area we told them to go on. Dave needed to get gravel out of his boots and I needed a break. For me it ended up being a rough hike out as I got a touch of heat exhaustion. A few times Dave poured water over my head which really helped and we finally made it out. It was time to head home for the day.


Today we headed to Big Bend Ranch State Park, we were in search of a slot canyon hike. River Road/FM170 is labeled as one of America's most scenic roads. It is a roller coaster road with lots of ups and downs, 20mph curves and a 15% grade. Not something we'd pull our 40'+ 5th wheel over but we did see a small Airstream traversing it.


After 20 some miles of beautiful scenery we found the Closed Canyon trail, we were soon in a slot canyon enjoying the cooler air. We navigated the canyon till we got to a water crossing that was too big for us to make and the walls were too slick to try crossing. We sure needed our canyoneering buddies MonaLiza and Steve for this hike.

Made it around this one
End of the trail

Our next stop was the Hoodoos trail where we got in a bit more walking.

Big Bend Ranch SP has more to see than one day will allow, there is a whole other northern area which will have to wait for another visit.


Up and in the truck about 8am, made it the Lost Mine trail head a little after 9. We had talked about what kind of hike we wanted to do as our last big hike here. The last few days we'd already done a slot canyon, walked among Hoodoos and followed a wash to it's pour-off. I wanted a hike that went up first, Lost Mine Trail fit that bill exactly. The 2.4 mile hike is almost all uphill but at a great grade except for the last push to the top after which it then winds along the ridge for a bit. Love trails that start with the trail going up and it's all downhill on the way back. Temps were in the 60's when we started out, great hiking weather and we had pinon trees and other shrubbery to shade us some of the time. What a great hike with some unbelievable views at the top.


After spending about a half hour at the top, we made it back to the truck by noon. Small world moment, as we were almost to the bottom of the trail we ran into Brendan and Chloe whom we'd met hiking a few days earlier.

We finished driving the Chinos Basin Rd then headed over to the road to Santa Elana Canyon. You can only look at the canyon as it's across the Rio Grande in Mexico.
Santa Elana Canyon

After the canyon our choice was a 13 mile dirt road or to back track 30 miles, we chose the road less traveled.
The park we are in,  Maverick Ranch RV Park, is part of Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa. There are rentals of all sorts around nearby, shopping, restaurants and lots of activities. Our last evening we decided to go to dinner at Candelilla Cafe which with a beautiful and wonderful food turned out to be a nice treat.

Tomorrow we head west to Las Cruces NM where we'll spend 2 nights at Lordsburg Dam State Park. Maybe tomorrow we'll have another beautiful sunrise, which can be seen right out our back window, to send us off down the road.

Until next time...