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.
I will tell you the story of the drive here, of the heat stoke I neared to having and the way I don’t regret the experience at all later, in a more comprehensive post. For now, let me just share the photos of my favorite part of my trip to Big Bend.
Of all the things i’ve found a hard time explaining about my visit to Big Bend, finding a way to accurately describe the heat we experienced is probably up there in the Top 5. Of course, there’s a reason we encountered barely anyone while traipsing from Mule Ears view point (seen in the first 5 photos up above) to hours later when we (ok ok, this was solely my decision and more on that later) took our lives in our hands to travel down the dirt road that is the East River Road. And that reason would be that more sane-minded people realized how incredibly hot it would be in a desert environment park in the southern part of Texas at the end of June.
By the time we hit this part in our road adventure, temperatures were hitting a nice 109°f/42°c and winds were picking up to a violent fervor, making it a special kind of hellish. After my second time stepping out of the car to get a good shot and being buffeted by scorching winds that literally took my breath away in a rather painful way, I did the only rational thing you could expect me to do. I stripped down to my tank top, sprayed on some more sunscreen, wrapped a long sheer scarf around my head and face and- got right back to photographing the landscape. The goal of taking the river road (and trust me, I will expound later on why exactly a goal was needed to keep motivated while traversing this rock riddled suggestion of what a road should be) was to make it to the abandoned Mariscal Mine area. There’s a terrifyingly raw and visually arresting kind of beauty to be found just making your way down this road though, even with no eventual goal in mind.
As always, the full comprehensive post of how we got here, what exactly we did and the best places to see – that will all be saved for the last post when I finally sit myself down to comprehensively write it all out in a way that makes sense. (right now i’m tempted to just snap a pic of the whole map, circle it and write in big red marker “visit all of it!”)
For now, have a look at the sights to see down on Old Maverick Road, as we made our way towards Santa Elena Canyon. The desert is colorful and sparkling bright so much so that my eyes watered and it had nothing to do with the incredible heat.