Monday, November 30, 2015

Yoo 680 - Big Bend, Pt 1

It's a new post!

Rewind back to the beginning of August and we find Dylan still living in San Antonio, and Morgan flying in to go on an adventure with us. I picked Morgan up at the airport and l still haven't forgotten the super mean parking "cop" who blackened the excitement of that meeting. But I'm getting over it.

The US Swimming National Championships were taking place in town so we went to that the first night. I can't find those pictures. But I remember it was really exciting for the first ten minutes and then each successive heat became progressively less exciting.

And then we slept and packed up all the junk and set off to Big Bend...after Dylan finished the last day of her internship.

We broke the drive to Big Bend up into two days, stopping at Seminole Canyon State Park to camp the first night. Just before the park, there's a border patrol check point where all traffic must stop to let the dog sniff the vehicle. For some reason or another, the dog signaled our vehicle and we had to pull over for a further search and questioning. The officer explained what was happening and asked us if there were any illegal drugs or people in the vehicle. We assured him there were not. Taking it all in stride he clarified, "If you guys smoke week, it's fine." We again assured him that was not an issue. The dog went around the vehicle a second time and finally decided that we weren't a threat and let us go.

He was a really cute dog so we couldn't be mad. Probably smelled our copious amounts of beef jerky. I don't care how much training they go thru...what dog can resist beef jerky? And when did weed become legal in Texas? Anywho.

We got to camp and had just enough time to hike to the river overlook and gaze upon Mexico. Then we saw this huge spider on the way back and thought of Adam.

He loves spiders.

We cooked Smothered Green Chile Pepper Chicken in the Dutch oven for dinner and set up camp, literally on a bed of thorns. We were all worried about our inflatable sleeping pads and each came up with a creative solution to protect the pads from certain death. Variations on car mats, the "heat shield" for the window, and a lot of blankets and tarps.

Luckily they all survived!

The stars were awesome. Just a bit of light pollution from nearby Del Rio.

The next morning we were quickly ushered out of camp by an angry bee. That sped up the packing considerably.

My trip notes indicate that the remainder of the drive to Big Bend was filled with a lot of empty desert space, making cereal in our mouths (Morgan: "I just aspirated!"), and Dylan's "anaphylactic" armpits.

I hadn't planned on letting almost four months go by before I wrote about that, so I assumed I'd remember the stories with the above short prompts. Since that isn't the case and I did let four months go by, we're all left to question the stories. But I do remember Morgan was using a lot of nurse vocabulary and Dylan was already stinky and we were laughing at everything and then some. Also important to note, there had been no fighting up to this point.

Dad, you would have been proud.

My favorite desert plant, the ocotillo.

As the desert scenery gave way to the desert scenery known as Big Bend, we saw something in the middle of the road ahead. With nothing better to do, all of us squinted, trying to identify the object and determine the appropriate reaction. The few seconds before impact remain clear in my mind. Morgan was driving. I was shotgun. Dylan had the back to herself. I recognized it first. "That's a snake!" It was tangled up in the middle of our path and seemed dead, so we proceeded to drive over it. Only, milliseconds before we reached it, a flash of pink reared up and thwacked our bumper, almost as if the snake was attacking the car. The terrified shouts of "IT'S ALIVE" still echo in that vehicle.

I joked that I could just see the rest of the park from the car.

A sign at the visitor's center later informed us that the snake was a Western Coachwhip, which explains the flash of pink and the fact that it could withstand baking mid-day temperatures on scorching black asphalt.

Also of note, buzzards. Lots of buzzards.

We spent most of the afternoon touring sites along the road to Rio Grande Village and back up to Chisos Basin.

Morgan forgot her sunscreen and spent the day looking like this. I hate sunscreen and usually hike in a long sleeve shirt and super nerdy hat that covers everything important. Dylan doesn't burn. So neither of us had any to offer.

My favorite stop was the hot springs next to the river. Dylan was boring, but Morgan and I took what we now deem the "Lava Plunge" or "Lava Challenge". Combined air and water temperature must be above 212 degrees Fahrenheit to count. The hot springs are 105 degrees and we're pretending it was 107 degrees that day. If it wasn't, it was CLOSE.

So refreshing...NOT! But being soaking wet felt good for the five minutes after. Before the sun had us all dry again.

Morgan, snacking in the car: "Take a little bit of cheese, add the's a real lip-smacker!"

Love her. She took the camera for our hike into Boquillas Canyon and caught the below shots. Things not to forget: singing Jesus and how he was on the Mexican side when we hiked into the canyon, but on the US side when we hiked out. Also, taking a dip in the Rio Grande, wondering just how far across we'd have to go to be considered illegal.

"I look like I'm sweating but actually my whole body is crying because it's so hot."

We drove up into the Chisos Mountains to camp, loving just how much the temperature dropped as we ascended. On the way up, we stopped for a few photos and discovered these lovely killer hornets swarming about. Photos immediately took a backseat, as apparently did one hornet. We drove a couple more miles up the road before noticing it buzzing about in the car and appropriately screamed like girls and "encouraged" it to remove itself via the 4 windows that went racing down.

The Chisos Basin campground is awesome if you have your "Texas camping goggles" on. I'd go back again and again.

Butt-rise. Like the Earth rise picture shot from the moon...but with Morgan's rear.

After what was probably a dinner of macaroni and cheese with tuna, we did one more hike up the Lost Mine Trail to watch the sun set.

I remember going to bed that night, lying in as little clothing as I could justify on top of a sheet, with the heat still sweltering about. It was quite uncomfortable but I was so full from the day. There's very little to complain about after a day spent with the sisters exploring a beautiful slice of this planet.

Have a great day :-)

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