When I started out with the planning for this trip, as always, the end result was nothing like what I began with. To start with, my main goal on heading down south was to see the interesting little town of Marfa.
To witness the Marfa Lights
To wander around the Chinati Foundation’s varied collection of art installations
Perhaps to even stay at the delightfully unique El Cosmico
Visiting Big Bend Natl. Park was an afterthought in regards to these other things I was more interested. ‘Till I began talking to friends about the trip…and they in turn gushed about their great interesting hiking and exploring the park, nevermind some random town that lies beyond it’s borders. And so I started reading up on Big Bend more and in the end it ended up being a trip that focused almost exclusively on the park and nothing else. With one exception that is, the prickly art installation that is Prada Marfa.
(one of my favorite articles on this is here )
Say what you will about it and what it means and what it will mean- there is something so surreal and bizarre and yet so utterly “Texas” about coming upon this place amid the endless road that leads you back towards the north on US-90 (and actually found just outside the teensy town of Valentine, not Marfa). It’s customary to take a photo of yourself in front of this building, but the only image of me visible in any of these photos is in the reflection on the windows inside the “store” and I don’t think anything is more appropriate for a places I almost left behind in the dust. I will be back to Marfa to soley see all those things I wanted to see before the desert climate of Big Bend seduced me over to its side but, this place will survive in my memory as a once and only sort of visit.
The sun set a blazing red under the burning hot haze coming in from the Mexican border and me and the bf watched the sun make it’s descent all alone up on Sotol Point, waiting for the heat to subside just a little while the winds buffeted us on all sides. The sotol plants this point was named for where the only living things for miles around as we waited for the night to come alive around us.
After eating dust for what felt like most of the afternoon driving through rough terrain on Glenn Spring Rd, getting back onto the paved highway almost brought tears of joy to me and the bf’s eyes. Of course, we’d barely been on the road for 5 minutes before he was pulling over for me to get out and repeat my love affair with the blazing hot winds just to photograph the surrounding landscape.
The park is, for the most part, a study in brown. It moves from the lightest of browns that you could almost pin towards white, to the farthest tips on the horizon that blur into shadows of black. But driving towards the Chisos Basin, our eyes were immediately inundated in a splendor of green, that lush and verdantly brilliant sign of life.
Perhaps thats why the bears that inhabit this park call solely this area home. I guess if I was going to pick a place to settle in, it would make sense to pick here. Not 5 minutes away from the visitor center, we were on the road and noticed that just up ahead the car in front of us had slowed down and had it’s hazards turned on….but the truly odd thing was the girl with her phone sticking out of the passenger side window. We held back a ways away till they drove off and then continued on, at which point I looked over to see what it had been that had so captured these peoples attentions and there just a few dozen feet down the side of the road, a bear.
I don’t think i’ve mentioned this before, I doubt i’ve had a reason to but- i’m really outrageously terrified of bears. It’s not a phobia, not does it come from some traumatic event, I just really think bears are rather scary predators and I would much rather swim with sharks than go camping with bears. So you can imagine my great joy seeing that bear just hanging out 3 minuets away from the parking lot of the visitor center. To the people camping in that area, I greatly admire your acceptance of mortality, I probably have to work on that a bit more.
I have three or four more posts to put up on here from the Big Bend trip (who said I was getting better at not procrastinating? I owe you a drink) but life’s been a series of ups and downs this past week and a half and so, here we are with with an Art Journal Monday as a bit of a placeholder while I get my life together.
On the positive side, my next adventure has been booked and planned out finally. The first two weeks of October will consist of me heading on my most ambitious roadtrip yet and stops include : Yellowstone (WY), Grand Tetons (WY) , Yosemite(CA) , Death Valley(CA), Las Vegas (NV) Joshua Tree(CA), Salton Sea (CA) and Carlsbad Caverns(NM). Should be sufficiently epic I think, as this will probably be my last roadtrip before I set my sights firmly on overseas traveling.
After leaving Mariscal Mine, we headed back on E. River Road instead of going forwards towards Black Gap Rd because we had been informed it was not maintained and therefore not the best choice for any non 4WD cars. To be fair, our experience with the E. River Road was pretty much this definition as well, so we hoped that Glenn Spring Rd. would prove to be a bit of a rest for our Jeep (and our butts) from the rocky dirt teeth-clattering challenge we had just been through. Not that I minded the bump-bump-bump of every mile turned into the time equivalent of 5 but I was still feeling the effects of a near miss of a heat stroke, so the bf was taking the wheel this time around.
After about a good half hour down Glenn Spring rd. it was decided that whoever had written in the official brochure for the park that the road was fine for sedans had either been drinking on the job or just had a really optimistic heart. My personal advice is that low clearance vehicles should really not venture too far down this road as even our little Jeep was struggling a bit. I had recovered enough strength an hour in to take the wheel again and while the road just kept getting rougher and rougher, I pushed on in the directions of the looming mountains ahead. Wrapping a scarf around my face once more, I ventured out into the oppressive (and impressive) heat to really take in the expansive beauty, buffeted by hot winds and a sun so hellish it felt like it was licking my skin with flames just standing out in the open holding my camera to my sweating face with my dry hands.
Basically what i’m trying to say is, it was all kinds of awesome and we were the only car to be seen the whole 2 hour drive on either side of the road, the only life out there besides the enormous jack rabbits that seemed to follow us from the sides of the road for miles and miles.