After a peaceful and star-filled night’s sleep in our mining casita in Terlingua, we geared up for a full day in Big Bend National Park. Needing morning fortification, we grabbed coffee and a light breakfast at the only gig in town – Espress Y Poco Mas! What a goldmine, as it truly is the only coffee shop – and a little more – in the Ghost Town of Terlingua, filled with visitors and locals from their early opening hours.
The entrance to the park was only a few miles away and once there, since we were in the Jeep, we decided to take Old Maverick Road, a thirteen-mile unpaved road ending at Santa Elena Canyon. Although there are numerous hiking trails of varying distances in Big Bend, we had decided to sample several shorter hikes since we were on a limited timetable. We felt we would experience more that way rather than embarking on a hike that might take 4 or 5 hours. Santa Elena Canyon was a wonderful way to start, and was for me the most picturesque journey of the day!
With pavement back beneath our wheels, we then drove the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, stopping along the way at various vistas and overlooks, such as Mule Ears Trail and Burro Mesa Pour-off. We hiked the dry wash which was like walking in loose sand (great for the calves!) and ended up at the bottom of the pour-off – a very amazing sight. It was here, and in several other spots, that Bill and I felt and discussed our insignificance in a world filled with such grandeur!
We then continued to the Chisos Basin where we experienced the transition from the high dessert to the mountains. Here we viewed the 7800-plus feet of Emory Peak and The Window, a rock formation of 4600 feet through which you can view the vast expanse of the mountains and dessert beyond. We completed yet another moderately difficult hike of the Chisos Basin Loop, meeting along the way a hiking club from the University of Illinois – nice way to spend their spring break!
At this point, the sun was starting to descend so we made our way back toward Terlingua, stopping at La Kiva for a bite to eat. La Kiva is the restaurant and bar that GQ magazine calls “the #1 most bizarre bar you must visit before you die!” It is virtually a cave with multiple rooms and very unique artifacts. One of particular interest is the “Penisaurus Erectus,” which adorns one whole wall of the bar area. As an excited mother and daughter photographed the creature, a local sitting next to us explained that it is a creation of the previous owner and was made from random animal bones! When the mom exclaimed, “This will be great to take to school and share,” the local woman kindly told the mother to take note of the name of the creature and that it might not be such a great school project!
Another quiet night in Terlingua was followed by yet another breakfast at Espresso Y Poco Mas and then we bid adieu to our Ghost Town accommodations and headed back to Big Bend one more time before returning to San Antonio.
This time we ventured to the far east side of the park, to The Rio Grande Village. A very unique phenomenon takes place in this area, as along the Rio Grande River there occurs a hot spring, where the water bubbles to 105 degrees. We arrived early and already there were morning bathers. The other major attraction here is the ability to cross into Mexico, being row-boated over for $5 round trip, followed by a burrow ride into Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico for an additional $5. The town’s population is about 150 and the crossing just reopened in 2014 after being closed following 9/11. Boquillas consists of street artisans and two Mexican restaurants across the street from each other. Unfortunately, about two hours into our trip we realized that we had forgotten our passports, so Boquillas was not an option. I whined for a few hours but then got over a very unique experience missed! We did, however, view the town from the Texas side and did see a horseman cross the Rio Grande – a border patrol perhaps!
After a quick hike on the Rio Grande Nature Trail, we reluctantly left Big Bend National Park, adding it to our list of 8 National Parks visited thus far in our adventurous life!
Stay Calm and Travel On…