Much to my mom's delight (and perhaps surprise), Thomas and I have returned from our camping trip to Big Bend National Park
with nary a bite, sting, or scrape. We weren't attacked by mountain lions, bears, javelinas, scorpions, tarantulas, or even mosquitos. We didn't have to use the snake bite kit she bought us before we left, or the mosquito head nets, or the bee sting ointment. We didn't fall off of any cliffs or tumble over any precipices. We didn't freeze to death, and we weren't set upon by marauding desert pirates in the middle of the night. (My mom, who by her own admission would rather have a stick poked in her eye than go camping, was a little concerned about us.)
But we survived, and we had a wonderful time. This was our first trip to west Texas, which included our first roadrunner and tumbleweed sightings. The tumbleweed really does tumble right across the road, just like it does in the movies! (The roadrunners, on the other hand, weren't quite like the one
I'm most familiar with on T.V.)
We spent our first night in Marfa, Texas
, an interesting little town that's partly small-town Texas and partly hip artist community. An odd mix. I'd be interested to spend a few more days there to get a better feel for what the town is really like. While we were there, we checked out the Marfa Mystery Lights
, an allegedly unexplained phenomenon of lights appearing in the desert. Thomas found them very mysterious. I, on the other hand, think the Marfa Chamber of Commerce has found a creative way to capitalize on car headlights viewed from a distance.
The next three nights were spent camping in Big Bend National Park. It's really a beautiful park with a wide variety of landscapes. Our first night, we stayed at a campground in the Chisos Mountains (see photo above). Our next two nights were spent at a campground on the Rio Grande. During our days there, we took several hikes through these areas, as well as through the Chihuahuan Desert that makes up the rest of the park. We saw lots of birds and other wildlife -- turkeys, vermillion flycatchers, Mexican jays, cardinals, a family of javelinas (small pig-like animals), rabbits, chipmunks, deer, and a bobcat. We heard a lot of coyotes but never spotted one.
We did have a couple of minor adventures. We took a day hike in the mountains that turned into a dusk hike, which apparently is prime mountain lion prowling time in prime mountain lion prowling territory. I was pretty nervous on the trip back, especially when I noticed some movement on the trail ahead of us. Turns out it was a family group of about eight or ten javelina, with two baby javelinas in tow. I was still a little nervous, but these just crossed the trail one at a time, each one stopping to look at us and then scampering on its way when Thomas skittered a stone in its direction.
We also woke up one morning to find that our car had a flat tire. A fellow camper came to our rescue when we couldn't get the lug nuts off of the tire, and a park volunteer rescued us again when we discovered that our spare tire was flat. We finally managed to get the spare (fully inflated) on the car and drive to the nearest service station, about an hour's drive from our camp. They fixed it quickly and we were back on the trail by that afternoon.
All in all, a great camping trip. We're already trying to figure out when we can go back. You can see more photos at our Flickr