Monday, December 21, 2009

Big Bend

We spent the day yesterday touring Big Bend National Park, which is on the Rio Grande, a stone’s throw from Mexico. (BTW, the Mexican food here is really good!) Big Bend 026 Big Bend 046 This is a desert with mountains. It’s beautiful and grand in it’s own way, but very different than the national parks in the Rockies and in the northwest. We’ve seen several defunct ranches many of which were started in the early 1900s, then abandoned in the ‘40s.Big Bend 045

Some of the rock formations are a bit similar to what we saw in Utah,and some are very different. The geology in this area is mostly volcanic (nothing recent), and soft rock formed from volcanic ash millions of years ago erodes in wacky shapes.Big Bend 056

I have two recurrent thoughts when I look at the landscape and see ranches and farms here: 1) of all the places in the country where there is a reasonable amount of water, why would anyone pick this area to try to ranch or farm? And 2} illegal immigrants must REALLY want to come to the US to try to cross the border here. The river itself is shallow and narrow, but there are hundreds of miles of barren desert and rough mountain terrain on both sides of the border. This visit has really helped me understand the desperation of those folks who come into the country through areas like this.

The town east of where we are, Lajitas, is Terlingua, which is partly a ghost town. There are a couple of small stores and gas stations, a bank , a post office and a couple of cafes. A Texan we chatted with on the way here said “where you’re going isn’t the end of the world, but if you stand on the roof of your camper, you’ll see it.”

And I should mention the traffic. There is none. If cars through here are more frequent than an average of one car per minute, I’d be surprised. Not much traffic in the National Park either. Nothing like Yellowstone or Yosemite.

But the people are very friendly and it is very quiet. This last image is of what I think is a private home (a trailer with some unusual yard decorations). I don’t know which prompted me to take the picture – the sailing ship, the submarine conning tower, the Statue of Liberty, or the name of the place, but I just couldn’t pass it by. (If the sign is too small to be read, it’s “Passing Wind.”)Big Bend 058


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