March 10, 2012

A Gorgeous Day in Big Bend

Today was the kind of day we dreamed we would have in Big Bend National Park.  The day started out a bit iffy with overcast skies, and I decided to go back to the camp store and see if the Wi-Fi was working.  It was, and I was able to post the blog entries for the last two days.  While I was there, surveyors from Texas A&M University asked if I would be willing to answer a few questions.  I’m good at multi-tasking, so I answered the questions while I typed.  Tim joined us, and we ended up talking with one of the students about landscape architecture, New Urbanism and assorted other topics.  She was such an interesting and bright young woman, and we enjoyed listening to her perspective.

By the time we finished talking, the clouds had blown away and the sky was a gorgeous shade of blue.  The temperature was in the 60s, and the gentle wind felt good under the warm sun.  Finally, we could enjoy hiking, and that’s how we spent the rest of the day.

We hiked down to the Rio Grande and then were rewarded with panoramic views after we climbed a high promontory.  We could see the Mexican village of Boquillas across the river, as well as the Sierra del Carmen escarpment and the Chisos Mountains in the distance.  The view was simply beautiful.

Restored Wetlands along the Rio Grande
The Rio Grande with the Chisos Mountains in the Distance
Across the Rio Grande
Along the trail we saw numerous displays of crafts for sale by Mexican border merchants.  Bracelets, pins and walking sticks were placed on a rock, prices were listed on a piece of paper and a jar was left to receive the money.  Everything was on the honor system.  The thing is, all of this is illegal.  The Mexicans who cross the Rio Grande to sell these items are in the United States illegally and could be deported.  Items purchased are considered contraband and could be seized.  It was an interesting part of the Big Bend experience, but Tim and I behaved and left empty-handed.

Border Merchant Crafts for Sale
We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Daniels Ranch, which features an adobe house built by John and Mary Coe Daniels who farmed this area before 1942.  Farming was the main industry here until the 1940s.  Tim spotted a roadrunner, and this time I had my camera with me.  We still haven’t seen a javelina, an odd creature that resembles a pig but is not closely related to the pig family at all.  They are supposed to be everywhere, but we have yet to encounter one.

Daniels Ranch
A Roadrunner
We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking the trail to Boquillas Canyon.  We climbed a hill that offered more views of the Rio Grande and the surrounding countryside and then made our way down toward the river.  An interesting feature on the trail was the bedrock mortar holes that were made by Native Americans.  We walked along the river as far as we could toward the canyon walls.  On the way, we were serenaded by Jesus, one of two or three Mexicans who sing for tourists in hopes of a small donation.  I resisted the urge to leave a dollar in his bottle.

Looking Down and Across the Desert on the Hike to Boquillas Canyon
Mortar Holes in the Bedrock
Boquillas Canyon
Sarah in Boquillas Canyon
Tim in Boquillas Canyon
Jesus Singing in the Canyon
What a Vista!
We couldn’t have asked for a better day, and it was so nice to finally get out into the park and see at least a small sampling of what makes Big Bend so special.

Desert Wildflowers
Desert Wildflowers

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