Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 23 - 30, 2012 "Surviving Las Vegas"

On our short trip northward to Tucson, we hit a “gator” in the road; sounded like hell. There was no way to miss it, as a passing 18-wheeler was next to me in the left lane. As soon as it was safe to pull over, I did, to survey for damage. Luckily, only a bent rock guard or hula skirt as CC calls it, and a broken gas strut on a basement door. Since we were on the way to Lazy Days (LD) in Tucson, we’ll have them put the rig on the rack and look underneath to see if there was any hidden damage that needs attention.

Why Lazy Days? I’m not thoroughly convinced the bedroom slide on the passenger side is closing correctly and fully. I’ve had two other Camping World techs tell me it’s the way it should be, but it doesn’t look quite right to me, as the outside weather-strip is not fully compressing to seal any potential rain.

Well, after sitting around at LD in Tucson for two days, and numerous consultations with service technicians and managers, they assure (assure not convince) me the slide is working as it was designed, and sealing properly, according to HWH, the manufacturer of the slide system. It does have a double seal, but when one isn’t working, it becomes a single seal system, right?

We have visited the other LD location in Tampa, and while it is much larger than this one, the outside customer service area was very nice, complete with a perimeter water misting system that actually cooled the air temps by at least 20 degrees. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge)

After paying the initial estimate of $96, ($20 to repair the broken strut, $20 to straighten the bent “hula skirt” and $56 to “adjust” the slide in question), we were finally ready to depart when I realized they had not given Elly a bath. So, back in to customer service; they apologized and bathed her, and went to pay, they said, “No charge, since we forgot to do it”. Hmmmm………..something free at LD? I was skeptical and CC commented, “maybe they just wanted to be rid of you”.

After getting set up at Lazy Days RV Park, CC convinced me I needed some R&R AWAY from the rig, and suggested a visit to Casino Del Sol would be what the doctor (CC) ordered. So after lunch at Little Mexico, we were casino bound. AND, she was right; after less than $10 invested, Lady Luck smiled upon me.

Needless to say, less than five minutes later, we left while we were ahead, and as we drove back to the rig, discussed our plans for the next week. We have been sitting way to long, and were about six days behind on our preliminary travel schedule for this spring / summer / fall escapade, so we decided to pick up the pace.

The first days travel of 175 miles brought us to Tonopah, AZ, about 50 miles west of Phoenix, just off I-10. Tonight we will call SaddleMountain RV Park our home. After check in at this Passport America location, we decided to take a walk, and discovered the ocotillo were in bloom.

The next day we tried to get an early start, and beat the heat, for the 150 mile trek, as afternoon temps were predicted to be in the mid 90’s. We stopped in route at a rest stop, had lunch, and about 1 pm arrived at Cattail Cove State Park, just south of Lake Havasu City. It had been recommended to us by a full timer at Lazy Days, and since we prefer state parks when our travel plans allow, it was a welcome reprieve from the typical cookie cutter RV park.

On our final travel day of the week; destination Las Vegas, 160 miles northward along the Colorado River. This was the second time in two years we have passed through three states in one day; AZ, CA and NV. As we left AZ and entered CA, our route traced the Old Route 66, and you could definitely tell it. The narrow road with little if any paved shoulders undulated with the terrain, giving us a roller coaster like ride, and even at the CA mandated speed limit of 55, brought us back into the time of our childhood.

We arrived at our home for the next few days, the LasVegas RV Resort, shortly after 2 pm. After our usual 15 minutes of set up, decided it was a little early for happy hour, and thought we would venture downtown to “The Fremont Experience”.  

We walked, and took in the sights and sounds as the zip-liners whizzed above us. When I asked CC how lucky she felt, she replied, “very”, so with that we entered one of the many casinos to test Lady Luck. After a couple of hours of spreading our quarters around downtown, we were both hungry when I noticed a marquee advertising $8.99 prime rib dinner at Tony Roma’s. The wait was short, and the prime rib very tender and tasty. Now it’s time for “Happy Hour”.

Back at “home” we sat outside and enjoyed our beverages, and tried to plan our activities for the following day; so much to do, how do we decide? May 1 will be our two year anniversary of full timing, and it has definitely flown by. It seems like only yesterday we were leaving the Denver area. But today, we will take time to smell the roses and survive Las Vegas.

CC has been in contact with Candace who is stationed here at Nellis AFB, and made arrangements to meet with her and her lovely daughter Gabby for dinner at Gabby’s favorite, Chili’s. It was great catching up with her, as it’s been almost 8 years since we last saw Candace. We are so proud of her, not only for her service to our country, but for the responsible woman and mother she has become. (Isn’t she a little hottie?)

Thanks for taking the time to stop by. Until next time take care and stay well………..

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 16 – 22, 2012 “Deming, NM to Benson, AZ”

 Arriving in Deming, NM on Sunday, we set up at our new “home” location in The Little Vineyard RV Park. CC chose this park over numerous others in Deming based on the reviews and comments on AND the fact it has a pool and a hot tub; something we are both in need of after not having access to one since we left the RGV. The park is a typical desert RV park; no grass – no trees – just sand, rocks with a few cacti scattered around here and there. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge)

 It was quite chilly Monday morning as we awoke to 36 degree temperatures, cooler than normal at our 4,335 foot elevation. Following coffee and breakfast, I posed my usual morning question to CC, “What do you want to do today?” (This is an every morning ordeal we go through when we are traveling; so much to see and do, how do we decide?) Not surprising, CC said, “Let’s go to Mexico. It’s only 35 miles or so.” In route, about 3 miles north of the little Mexican town of Palomas is Columbus, NM. Every once in a blue moon, we stumble across a little museum, that, as we approach it, say to ourselves, “What on earth could this place, in the middle of nowhere, have that warrants a museum?”

Upon entering, we were overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” they had on display; artifacts of all kinds and the walls were covered in pictures and documents. It seems Pancho Villa played a pivotal role in the history of this tiny town.

This is an outstanding video and explanation of the raid by Pancho Villa, produced by the Texas Archives in 1982. It is extremely factual and informative, with eyewitness reports. (Click on the underlined link to view the video) We both worked up quite an appetite touring the museum; time for lunch. A short drive 3 miles south and we were at the border. Free parking and no fee for the border crossing, we arrived in Palomas, MX, around noon.

Before we left the park this morning, we asked the manager IF there was a good place to eat in Palomas, and she said, “Yes, The Pink Store.” Sounded odd to me why anyone would chose that name for their business, but we are dealing with our neighbors to the south, and who am I to judge. As we approached, it was evident why they chose the name they did.

As we entered, CC and I both remarked at how clean and well kept the store was. Most of the border towns we have visited have been slightly less than remarkably clean, as they are in the desert, and everything gets dusty here on a daily basis. But this place was clean enough to eat off the floors. We ordered dos margaritas en la roca con limon y no sal, and focused on the menu. CC conservatively chose her old standby, the quesadilla, and according to her, was excellent, as was the home made salsa; spicy with a little kick.

I chose the shredded beef burritos, simply because I hadn’t had them since I can’t remember when. They were very tasty, mildly spiced with an abundance of flavor. Muy bueno!

As we made our way to the US border with one liter of King of Queens scotch ($14) and one liter of Sauza Silver Blue Agave tequila ($5.50), we wondered what the tax or duty might be. When we cross the border into Texas from Nuevo Progresso, Texas charges an “importation fee” of $3.75 per liter, and the Feds allow one liter per person duty free. So, when we went through customs here, entering the US into NM, we were told there was no state tax (or “fee”, as they call it in TX), and of course no federal duty, as we were allowed one liter each. Now that’s what I like; no parking fee, no crossing fee, and no fee or taxes on the booze. Is this a great country or what?

 After the short 35 mile drive, we were once again home, just in time for “Pool Time”. Ahhhh, an indoor heated pool, the water was about 90 degrees and it felt fabulous. After 30 minutes or so, we moved to the rather small hot tub where the water was said to be 103, and over the next 15 – 20 minutes we both melted into the relaxation we needed from living this hectic lifestyle ;-)

 We began our Tuesday, as we do each day with the usuals, when CC chimed in, “Since yesterday we went south, today let’s go north to Silver City.” Sounds like a plan to me. With that, we were out the door for the hour drive north. After a brief stop at the Visitor Center, we were off to another museum.

The building was impressive, the contents not so much so. I think we both expected more than yesterday, due primarily to the appearance of the exterior, but as we all know, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Oh well, we made the best of it, and managed to scrape a few tidbits of information on Silver City from within. (Click on the underlined link for more information)

 Wednesday was travel day; Deming, NM to Benson, AZ, a leisurely 170 mile drive westward across I-10. We arrived at our new home, The Pato Blanco Lake RV Park shortly after 2 pm. (Pato Blanco is Spanish for white duck) Usually we have no idea of how long we want to stay in any one place, so we customarily book two nights when we first check in, allowing us time to do some research, and if we like it, we extend our stay, which is exactly what happened here.

We picked up a booklet in the office, “Cochise County – Land of Legends”, and started doing some research on the area. OMG, we could easily stay here a month. This area has in its history, early Spanish explorers, Apache Indian Chiefs Cochise and Geronimo, copper, silver and gold mining; not to mention Tombstone and the OK corral starring Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. We might as well start with the closest first, so off to Tombstone it is, this crisp Thursday morning.

When possible, at each new location, we like to take a trolley tour, as it gives us an insight on what there is, and what peaks our interests that we may want to further explore, but it was closed for maintenance. Plan B; take the stagecoach tour. We were told it was about 2 miles long and took about 30 minutes. They must measure time and distance differently in Tombstone, because according to my calculations, we covered 4 square blocks in just about 15 minutes. This, according to our stagecoach driver and tour guide, was Doc Holliday’s house.

And, on to Wyatt Earp’s home…………

Originally, the Cochise County Seat was in Tombstone, when this courthouse was built; the gallows still stand behind it where 10 men walked the scaffolds before being hung. In 1929, the County Seat was moved to Bisbee.

That was about the extent of the $20 Stagecoach tour. After a brief lunch at a Mexican joint, CC and I decided to tour the Rose Tree Museum (admission $5 each) to witness the largest rose tree in the world; a Lady Banksia covering over 8,600 square feet of trellis. And, as luck would have it, the darn battery on the camera died. No picture of the rose tree; can I get an awe shucks? This lifestyle is starting to get to me, but it was pretty impressive, considering the original cutting was brought from Scotland in 1885, and was only a few inches long, and now the trunk is over 5 feet in diameter. I did manage to search for and find a video of this amazing plant. YouTube Rose Tree Video

 And finally, without further adieu, Boot Hill Cemetery; no explanation necessary.

Friday morning, different day, same dance. Bisbee was our destination. How do we do this day in and day out? I’m beginning to think we need a vacation from all this sightseeing. But, it’s a tough job and someone gotta do it, so off to Bisbee we were. Upon arrival at this southern Arizona town perched at 5,300 feet above sea level, we were both pleasantly surprised at how much cooler it was than Benson; about 10 degrees, and much more green, if there is such a thing in the desert.

Bisbee, 90 miles southeast of Tucson and nestled amongst the Mule Mountains, is the picturesque county seat of historic Cochise County. The community was founded in 1880 and named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine. Ironically, the Judge never physically set foot in the town that bears his name.

 Once known as “The Queen of the Copper Camps”, this Old West mining camp proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead and zinc that came from these rich Mule Mountains. By the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco.

 Bisbee, with a population of over 20,000 people in the early 1900’s, had become one of the most cultured cities in the Southwest. Despite its culture, however, the rough edges of the mining camps could be found in notorious Brewery Gulch, with its saloons and shady ladies. Brewery Gulch, which in its heyday boasted upwards of 47 saloons, and an equal number of bordellos, was considered the "liveliest spot between El Paso and San Francisco". Bisbee offered other recreational pursuits in that it was home to the state’s first community library, a popular opera house, the state’s oldest ball fields, home to the first professional baseball team in America and the state’s first golf course.

 In the 1970’s, as the price for copper dwindled, making it no longer profitable to mine, Bisbee became a virtual ghost town. Around 1974, the hippies from San Francisco settled here, some buying homes for a little as $1 each, while others just “squatted”. This movement actually kept it from becoming what had become of so many other, once profitable mining towns, the moniker of “ghost town” Their presence, even though many of the original squatters are now in their 60’s and 70’s, is still present today.

Art galleries, jewelry shops and antique stores are plentiful, and line the streets of the historic district.

From historic downtown, the heart and soul of Bisbee is not visible. One must traverse around a mountain, to get a glimpse of the magnitude of mining operations here.

As we travel, we are constantly looking for a possible long term location in which to stay, especially during the colder winter months. We have grown fond of the RGV in Texas, but one never knows when a true diamond in the rough may show up. With that said, border towns play a minor role in our search for the “Ultimate Winter Home”. Since Naco, MX is only a few miles south of Bisbee, it was only natural, that we take the time to check out this little Mexican border town.

We had already eaten lunch, so we just walked around Naco, making mental notes on restaurants, tiendas (small stores), pharmacies, and dentists. Normally, since tequila is produced in Mexico, it is much cheaper, almost 50% in some cases of the prices NOTB. We found the opposite to be true in Naco; prices were about the same to somewhat higher than US prices. While the town was notably cleaner and more well maintained than some border tows we have visited, it severely lacked in what we were looking for on this visit; cheap tequila for CC’s happy hour beverage of choice. It really is just a sleepy border town; not much going on in Naco.

Today, we ventured to Sierra Vista, and on arrival stopped at the visitor’s center to pick up information. As it turned out, the museums we were interested in are closed on Sundays. It was a pleasant 25 mile drive, and now that we’re back “home”, it’s pool time. CC just checked the weather, and it’s 95 here but Tucson finally hit 100 about 3 pm this afternoon, setting a new record high for the day. Manana we’re Tucson bound.

Thanks for taking time to stop by and catch up on our craziness. Until next time, take care and stay well………………..

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 9 - 15, 2012 "Hot Blonde Babe in NM Looking"

We arrived in Marfa, at the Apache Pines RV Park. Our first attempt at setting up the rig failed because the rear wheels were lower than the front ones. So we decided to just turn around and pull into what was designed as a back in. Second attempt failed to level due to “Excess Slope” warning on the HWH auto-levelers. As they say, third time is the charm; pulled up front, to a different site closer to the highway, backed in, hit the auto-level, and hallelujah, we were level………… FINALLY! (As usual click on any image to enlarge)

This RV Park definitely did NOT have the “it” factor, but compared to the other one in town; it was much nicer by far. (Hard to imagine that by looking at the above picture, so that just proves the other one was a REAL DUMP.) We came to Marfa to experience the Marfa Lights, so although the park wasn’t that nice, it was good enough for what we wanted, and the owners had actually watered the few cacti there as well as the five large pine trees; its namesake. The yuccas were in full bloom; finally we get to see some cacti blooming.

The infamous Marfa Lights; not exactly what we thought they were going to be. CC and I had visions of the Aurora Borealis. Not even close. It reminded me more of a two pair of headlights on the horizon, miles and miles away. CC thought it looked like campfires; either way we are just getting too old to enjoy the simpler things in life, OR, they are way over hyped. We’re not THAT old, so the latter must be true.

The next morning we left Marfa, vowing never to return, in route 215 miles to Anthony, TX; just north of El Paso. Why Anthony? Well, we have a few things that need to be repaired on the rig, and there is a Camping World in Anthony, with an adjacent RV park. Our dash A/C quit working outside of Laredo, and since we plan to journey up the west coast, California requires an auxiliary braking system on our toad. Last August when we upgraded the rig and toad, Leach Camper Sales in Lincoln, NE, transferred our old brake system to the new rig. But lo and behold, ol’ Murphy had other ideas about an uneventful departure, and the Brakemaster brake cylinder came up missing at the eleventh hour. Leach finally sent us a new one last November, but it wasn’t the same one that we had, so there were modifications that needed to be made to the system to make it “legal”.

We drove straight to Camping World in hopes of getting in and out within a reasonably quick time frame. The earliest they could get us in was Thursday, so, Thursday it was. They saw no problems getting our work done in one day. “OK”, I said, “think you’d have time to give Ellie a bath as well.” Again, no problem. CC was somewhat perturbed that they couldn’t get us in any sooner, but I shrugged it off, and thought it would give us time to re-provision, see some sights, and finalize our taxes. So, it was off to American RV Park, right behind Camping World, which would become our home for the next 4 nights.

CC contacted her BFF (from HS), Donna, to make arrangements to meet and catch up on each other’s lives for the last few years. Lucky for us, she didn’t have dinner plans, so she recommended The Cattle Baron in Las Cruces, NM. CC chose the Grilled Chicken Caesar, Donna opted for the Teriyaki Chicken, and I, well, this is a steak place, right? Ribeye for me, thank you, medium rare please. Not much was left on our plates, so I can only assume, (which I really hate to do) that everyone enjoyed their meal. For all you single guys, Donna is as well, and has a cute little tushy with personality to match. CC wants to play match maker and find a good man for her BFF; any real men out there interested?

Arriving at Camping World early on Thursday, the service department needed the motor home and Equinox to complete the repairs. This gave us the wonderful opportunity to shop camping world all day. We looked at all kinds of RV accessories and supplies, and all the different RV’s (popup, travel trailers, Class C, Fifth Wheels and Class A) in the showroom as well as outside. After a quick trip to Ernesto’s, around 11:30 for lunch, where we feasted on CC’s favorite cuisine, returned to Camping World to check on the progress of the rig. It was after 6 when we finally pulled away from CW, back to American RV Park for the night. Unfortunately they were not able to fix the problems with the dash air conditioner or wash the rig. Hey. At least they got the brake system working. One outa three; they’re batting .333. Their service department recommended we contact the Freightliner dealer in Las Cruces, NM.

The next morning we are off to an authorized Freightliner service center, Las Cruces Travel America Center. Upon arrival, they informed us they only service RV tires. Ok, next stop Sunland RV, whom is a partner with our extended warranty provider. I’m beginning to think we’re getting the run-a-round. Sunland says, “We don’t service any diesel chassis issues, that’s a Freightliner problem. You can try Bogart’s around the corner, and see if Chad can help you.” Now, I’m officially pissed. My extended warranty provider tells me they don’t service that. For what the hell did I pay them over $7K? But, as my Mom taught me, you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar; mustered a smile, and said, “Can you give me the address of Bogart’s?”

Walking in to Bogart’s I was apprehensive, definitely feeling I was getting the major run-a-round. I asked to speak to Chad, and was told he would be right with me. A minute or so later he appeared and asked, “How can I help you?” As I explained the series of events to Chad, I couldn’t help but think, where will he send me? Much to my surprise, he said, “I’m on another job right now, if you want to wait in the rig for awhile, I get to you as soon as I can. CC and I meandered out to the MH and proceeded to kill some time by watching TV. About 5 minutes later, Chad knocked on the door and said, “I’m ready to commandeer your rig.” I told CC, this may take all day, let’s go check out an RV park for tonight.

We had no more finished the paperwork at Sunny Acres RV Park, when Chad called and said, “You’re MH is ready; the A/C is working like new.” I looked at my watch; a mere 20 minutes had passed since we left Bogart’s. I was shocked to say the least, given the chain of events over the past week and what we had endured getting the dash A/C fixed. On arrival, Chad explained it was a loose wire that had been improperly installed at the factory. After paying the minimum one hour charge ($95) at Bogart’s we left feeling that FINALLY someone had stepped up to the plate, and taken care of the problem. Bogart’s was great. I can’t say enough good things about Chad. If you’re ever in Las Cruces, and in need of RV repair, look nowhere else but Bogart’s! Thanks Chad, you’re the best.

This morning we moved to Deming, NM, a short 55 mile jaunt, where, over the next few days will explore Silver City, and possibly Palomas, MX, to replenish our (CC's) tequila supply. Thanks for stopping by, until next time, take care and stay well……………………………

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 1 - 8, 2012 "Big Bend National Park"

We departed Del Rio in route to Lajitas, TX. As we climbed in elevation along the Rio Grande, we stopped at the Pecos River Overlook. As we stood there, enjoying the view, CC asked, “We have to drive across that thing?” It’s a bridge, and the answer is yes, IF, you want to continue to Big Bend. I must admit, from where we were, the bridge looked a little under-engineered. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge)

After a brief one night stay at the Marathon Motel and RV Park, we ventured on to Lajitas. The “directions” on their web site said, check in at the Lodge Registration, just past the boardwalk. OK, boardwalk in site, now where to park this beast. As I pulled off the road on the right shoulder, there was a sign that read, Steep road ahead - 10 miles 15 degree slope. Holy cow! I sure don’t want to attempt that with this rig.

CC walked across the road and checked us into the Maverick Ranch RV Park, and said, “The lady said it’s about a half mile from here.” OK, which way? To which she replied, “She said this way”. With that, we continued on. It wasn’t looking good as we drove on, the road narrowed, and I remembered that sign. Almost instantaneously, we both said, stop here! The right shoulder was wider and had partially been paved. Now all we had to do was unhook the toad, and attempt to turn this 43 footer around on a two lane road. At first I thought it would take 2 or 3 wiggles to make it, but CC guided me back to the very edge, and as I pulled forward, cranked the wheels hard left, narrowly missing a road sign. Now, with only one wiggle, I have come to appreciate the 55 degree wheel cut Freightliner put on this chassis. With that little bit of suspense behind us, we headed in the other direction to the RV park, past the registration. Now why would they locate registration past the park? Why not just register at the RV park office? There are just some things I will never understand, but we finally arrived at our new home for the next five days.

The Maverick Ranch RV Park is part of the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa. They have a private airstrip, and offer a wide range of equestrian activities, as well as 4-wheeling, river rafting, and skeet shooting. This was originally a 26,000 acre ranch, and was used in the 1800’s as a border crossing and the Lodge was built to mimic this era.

The next morning, we decided to take the steep road to Presidio, along Highway 170, and had only traveled a few miles when we came upon an old movie set. The small village or Rancheria was never a real village. It was constructed in 1985 as a set for the boarder-western comedy “Uphill All The Way” starring Roy Clark, Mel Tillis and Burl Ives.

Since that time, nine different movies have been made on this original set and later more buildings constructed at this location.

Other movies filmed here: 1993-Rio Diablo; 1994-Gambler V: Playing for Keeps; 1995-Streets of Laredo; 1995-My Maria (1996 Music Video of the Year); 1996-Dead Man’s Walk; and in 2000, Journeyman.

It is hard to believe that Mexico is just across the river! The vibrant culture of this borderlands region spans the river and has long inspired both artists and filmmakers.

Since we were so close to the home of CC’s epicurean desires, we decided it was indeed a “Kodak Moment” in the Rio Grande, with Mexico in the background. You’re probably thinking, one could just walk across to Mexico or vice versa, and you would be correct, as the water was less than a foot deep.

On the road again, just a few miles from the movie set, we rounded a corner and came upon this social group of Mexican Edsels. It’s amazing they can survive in this environment, and this part of west Texas hasn’t had any significant rainfall in almost 2 years; even the cacti were / are withering away. (That’s a picture of the same narrow road we turned the rig around on yesterday.)

In just a few more miles, we came to the steep grade. Not only steep, but winding as well; a 15 degree climb for about a mile, followed by the reverse. No way would I want to take a big rig on this highway.

We arrived in Presidio around noon, and decided on El Patio, a little Mexican joint that had come highly recommended by numerous people. The place was packed, and it did not disappoint. Behind us, in the corner, was this unique wood carving.

The following morning, we ventured into Big Bend National Park, and made our way to the Chisos Basin, centrally located within the park, about 23 miles from our entrance at Maverick Junction. As we drove, CC and I both commented on the desolation, and extreme drought conditions that exist. We had expectations of cactus blooming, since this was, afterall, Springtime. Temperatures were in the high 80’s with single digit humidity levels.

Arriving at Chisos Mountain Basin Junction, we turned southward for the 6 mile climb to Chisos Mountain Lodge. The road is steep and winding, and is not recommended for trailers over 20 feet, or RV’s in excess of 24 feet. The Equinox had no problem, but the recommendation was duly noted, and after the round trip, understand completely. Below is what locals refer to as, “Window View”.

As we descended from the Mountain Lodge, we came across this lil’ fella just having the time of his life with an orange road cone. We watched for over 5 minutes as he or she, bit, scrunched, tossed, and otherwise tried to bear-handle that cone; it was quite conical, even comical. We kept our distance AND stayed in the car as we photographed the yearling.

OK then. Enough sight-seeing for the day, as the temps were approaching 90; time for the pool. Maverick Ranch has a nice pool, and we fully expected to enjoy it thoroughly; the water, on the other hand, was not agreeable at around 70 degrees. The office told us they were installing a heater on the pool, and would be operational in 2 weeks. Now, how exactly does that help us on our 5 day stay?

The next morning we awoke to temps in the 40’s; typical for the desert this time of year. After coffee and breakfast, we motored eastward almost 75 miles to Rio Grande Village, on the eastern edge of the park. While there, hiking around, we spotted this rascal chasing bugs. Every time I see a Roadrunner, it brings back childhood memories of Wylie Coyote chasing one all over the desert, with numerous devices from ACME, designed for the massive destruction of the Roadrunner, which never happened; beep beep.

The Boquillas Canyon Overlook is only a few miles from Rio Grande Village, and so it was next on the bucket list. Near the edge of the overlook, some 100 feet above the river, was this collection of trinkets, placed there by residents of the nearby Mexican village of Boquillas Del Carmen.

As we gazed at the assortment, we also noticed 4 men across the river, sitting under a shade tree, watching us. My guess is, that if we would have put any money in the can, they would have scurried over to collect it, as we could see the “trail” across the river they had been using. The National Park Service has put up numerous signs warning tourists from buying these trinkets with threats of seizure and / or fines, as well as threats of imprisonment to the Mexican Nationals for entering the US illegally. From the appearance of the “trail”, I don’t think the Mexicans were too worried.

OK, time for Happy Hour, as we looked westward to the 75 mile drive to Lajitas. On arrival, about 2 hours later (speed limit in the park is 45 mph), we plopped into our chairs, cold adult beverage in hand, and reflected on what we had experienced today. It’s easy being thousands of miles away, saying let’s close down the border with Mexico’ but closing the border in this part of Texas would be nearly impossible, which is why they haven’t even attempted building a fence or a wall.

The Homer Wilson Ranch, also known as the Blue Creek Ranch, was one of the largest ranches in the early twentieth century in what would become Big Bend National Park in Texas. The ranch was established by Homer Wilson in 1929 at Oak Springs to the west of the Chisos Mountains. Ultimately comprising 44 sections of land, amounting to more than 28,000 acres (11,000 ha), the Oak Canyon-Blue Creek Ranch was acquired by the State of Texas in 1942 for incorporation into the new park. A large portion of the ranch comprised portions of the old G4 Ranch (named after Survey Block G4), established by John and Clarence Gano in the 1880s. Wilson's ranch focused on as many as 4,000 sheep and 2,500 goats, the first such large operation in the Big Bend area. Wilson continued to live at the ranch until 1943, when he died. His family moved from the ranch in 1944. Wilson, born in Del Rio, TX in 1892, had studied petroleum engineering at the Missouri School of Mines and was a World War I veteran. The ranch, with the headquarters at Oak Springs and its operational center at Blue Creek, was one of the largest in Texas, and the most significant ranch in Big Bend.

The Blue Creek residence measures about 24 feet (7.3 m) by 60 feet (18 m) with a 16-foot (4.9 m) by 60-foot (18 m) screened porch on the south side of the house. The single-story residence comprised two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen, with a large central fireplace. The house features a double roof, the inner layer a traditional reed roof of the type locally used, with a sheet metal roof above. Another building housed ranch help. The structures were abandoned when the Wilsons moved out.

The Blue Creek area of the Wilson ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1975.

We continued on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to Santa Elena Canyon, at the western edge of Big Bend. The canyon averages walls up to 1,500 feet, and is a must see on the list of places to see at Big Bend. There is an easy 1.6 mile roundtrip hike up the canyon. We had hoped to raft or kayak down the river from Lajitas, about 13 miles upstream, but as you can see, the water levels were not adequate to allow this.

We spotted this group of 3 Mexican Nationals headed downstream with a boatload of bags, and the 3 kayaks behind them headed upstream. Wonder what was in those bags? As you can see from the photo, the river was only about knee deep, and about 100 yards later downstream, they had to ford the boat across a dry stretch of the river.

Once again, back at the rig, we had time to reflect on our observations of the day, and our entire stay at Big Bend. While overall, we are glad we took the time to experience the park, but definitely under-whelmed by its beauty; the drought has taken a severe toll on her, and will most likely take years to recover, when and if she receives some much needed rain.

From here, we venture northward to Marfa, to experience the “Marfa Lights”. Thanks for stopping by, and until next time, take care and stay well…………………