Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Texas–and warmth at last!

When we woke up in Deming NM, it was –14C, which I think is about 14-15F.  Way too cool at any rate.  In spite of having the heat on inside, the water was frozen in the morning, though the sun was out and it approached the freezing mark before too long.  We fueled up before heading out and met some rather rude folks at the gas station.  I’m just ready to pull out and not one, but two idiots pull in to the pump in front of me and start to fill up.  Did they think I was going to back the fifth wheel out in the street?  Lucky for them, I was busy entering the fuel purchase into the app on my iPhone!

The ‘postal code’ trick has never worked for me at the pumps, but some pumps don’t ask, so at least that part of the equation has been a bit smoother. 

I forgot to mention that in the evening around dusk there were hundreds or thousands of ravens sitting on the road edges.  They would fly when cars came by, but  would return immediately after.  I think they found it cold too, and were enjoying the last bit of heat from the pavement as the sun went down.

I also just realized a huge difference in the type of heavy truck traffic in Canada and down here in the southern states.  I can’t recall if it applies to most of the western US, or just the south.  I was driving along on the interstate when a B-train (maybe it was an A-train, but a two trailer semi truck at any rate) passed me.  Then I realized that most of the rigs down here are single 53’ trailers.

Here’s one with a new high-tech fairing designed to improve mileage by up to 6%!CIMG3182

I started to count rigs, and got to 34 before I saw another tandem trailer outfit (Fed-Ex), and that was the only one in the next hundred trucks.  I think at home half or more are double rigs.  In fact, in a big ugly fatal 4 truck head-on crash that delayed my departure from home on a road trip a few years ago, all of the trucks involved were pulling two trailers.  And, between Edmonton and Calgary, triple trailers are not unusual.  I wonder why the difference?

Coming down into Las Cruces, and the first crossing of the (once mighty) Rio Grande.CIMG3171CIMG3172

Near the boundary, the border patrol checkpoints and their clusters of sensors and cameras monitoring all traffic on the interstate.


Off through Las Cruces, El Paso and Van Horn we went, then headed south to Marfa, and eventually into Alpine where we pulled off in a vacant lot beside a hotel and spent a quiet night, and at least nothing froze.  After a check of the map, we decided to backtrack through Marfa and head down to Presidio – on the Mexican border, so we could traverse the Big Bend Ranch State Park as well as the Big Bend National Park.

Some of the roadside places approaching Presidio made me wonder if we had inadvertently crossed the line already.  But once in the town, it appeared to be quite progressive, and had lots of nice facilities.

Everything on the far side of the river is – Mexico.


The state park information place along the road was not that well marked, and we ended up rolling past it without stopping.


The road follows the north bank of the Rio Grande river, which is also the US/Mexico border in these parts.  The border patrol had their airship aloft just north of Presidio, but once headed into the park, there was no sign of border patrol at all.  So much for the fence and the lights and the cameras.  Here you could cross the line without getting wet to the knees in some spots.  The road was nice, but quite steep and winding for towing a trailer, and I didn’t find the scenery that spectacular, though it certainly was not boring.



Stopped at the nice park sign and got the pamphlet and map as we left the state park.



This badger crossed the road in front of me!  Hailey had a good look from the vantage point of my shoulder.



From there you go almost directly into Big Bend National Park.  I broke down and got the $80 annual pass, but since the Canadian dollar is (was?) slightly above par, it likely only cost me $78.27!


Just past Panther junction I saw a family of Javelinas, but only managed to get these photos of one as there was traffic behind me.


The sign says ‘No Wood Fires’!


Home sweet home.


Nailed on the picnic table is the Javelina warning.


I had planned to perhaps save money and camp in one of the primitive backcountry campsites if the roads were smooth enough, but since the price was the same as the regular, un-serviced campsites, I ended up at Rio Grande Village.  Unlike everywhere I have camped in California and Arizona, there are no jets going overhead, or small plane strobes in the night sky.  It is very isolated and wild here, and it is very quiet at night when the coyotes are not singing.  Perhaps the occasional tinkle of a Mexican cow’s bell drifting across the river…

Hailey and I just sat outside in the dark, listening to the muted gurgle of a nearby spring, and the crickets doing their thing.


   Coming soon – shopping at the illegal smuggler stashes! (on the honor system!)image



  1. We traveled that Presidio route back in 04 but going the other way. Spent Christmas Day in the Rio Grande Campground that year & hiked Boquilles Canyon on Christmas Day. Big Bend is the only part of Texas that I've seen that I liked except for maybe up around Fort Davis. I like the area because of it's mountains & solitude. It's 3 a.m. here & 25F. Enjoy your warmer weather:))

  2. Ive wanted to visit this part of Texas myself--good to be able to get a preview of what I may encounter if I get to visit! so....did you get one of those beaded scorpions? Kinda cute!

  3. Big Bend is the one part of Texas we want to see. Only made it to Fort Stockton on our way back west one year but that wild country really called us. Thanks for the photos and stories! Hailey looks great.

  4. I love the Big Bend!! Our favorite hike is Boquillas Canyon. Followed by a soak in the hot springs:)

  5. I live in Texas yet I have never been to the Big Bend area. Hope you enjoy your stay. Be careful with the javelina.