Big Bend National Park, TX

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This alert flashed on the TV at the motel. It was only for 1 hour, and I was safely in the motel room. The audio warned of large hail, and to get your cars under shelter. The warning area included Big Bend National Park. Should be okay to go there tomorrow, right?
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I won’t bother with pictures of the drive over to Big Bend. It was mostly similar to what you see here. But I did go through the town of Marathon, and got to preview what I will be riding in a couple days.

So glad I didn’t have to bike to Big Bend. It was a long drive even in a car. And on a bike, it would have meant no services all day, camping on the side of the road, then no services until the park. Then, see what I could, if I had any energy left. Then, repeat no services, roadside camp, no services on the way out.

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This was a picture at the visitor center, warning campers to secure their food.
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I’m at an overlook near the Fossil Exhibit in the park.
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One of these bugs dropped onto the bench at the Chiso Basin Store, where I was eating a Coco Popsicle. This is his friend that was on the nearby newspaper vending box. I had to hold the popsicle in my teeth to snap this picture. Oh, and these fly, by the way.
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I had lunch at the lodge. Rather pricey, but I needed vegetables, so I ordered a chicken salad wrap for $10, and a one trip salad bar for $6. The waiter asked what I wanted for my side. Side? I get a side? That’s a lot of food. Fries? All the vegetable and fruit choices were already on the salad bar. While I hesitated, he said he’d let me have the salad bar as a side. What a deal! I left a good tip, splitting what the extra salad bar would have cost.
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This was the view out the window during lunch.
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On the patio after lunch, I met Scott (middle) and Helen (left). They were actually from Florida, and recommended Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine when I got there. Scott used to work in technology, too.
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Behind the lodge, there was a trail marker. The famous Window trail that the guy in Alpine recommended. But I had neither the shoes nor the water to go 5 miles. That’s longer than Lanipo (one way), or Aiea Loop Trail, although to be fair, humidity is not an issue, here. I thought about walking down to the campground to see what it was like, but realized it would be more efficient to drive down there, then hike the trail up if there was time.
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I found this in the Basin Store. Not a bike tire patch kit, but the cement is probably just what I need for Rema Tip Top patches. I. only had about $27 cash at the time, so was watching my purchases carefully, or trying to use the credit card. The campsite would be $14, deposit cash or check in the envelope. So I needed to break my $20 to have $14. I got the repair kit.
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There were only a few campsites left open. I chose #26, since it had a shelter, even though there was no flat spot on which to pitch a tent. I noticed a lot of gravel in the shelter, which might have been what discouraged others. Wish I had a whisk broom…

I walked up to find the amphiteatre, because I heard there would be an interdenominational service there on Sunday. I saw some college students (or at least, 20-ish people) go up just before me. Turned out they were staff, and actually the worship team for the next day. Service would be at 9 am. There was Sabra, a college senior from Arkansas, Emma from Champaign, IL, Laura from North Carolina, Claire, a sophomore from Dallas, and Darius, also from Dallas. Should have taken a picture. Maybe tomorrow?

After that, I decided to hike up to the lodge. It wasn’t very far, but about as much walking as I wanted to do in my biking shoes. As I was coming back down, big, infrequent drops of rain began to fall. Now where had I experienced that, before? I got back to my shelter just as it started to thunder and rain hard. Then I heard some small rocks hitting the metal roof of my shelter. At first, I thought it was kids playing around, but then realized it was hail. The car was exposed, but did not seem to get damaged.

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Those are not mothballs on the ground, there…



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As the rain let up, I went into the car to eat my dinner and listen to Siruis XM. I see why they equip the rental car with Sirius. I couldn’t get ANY terrestrial stations, neither AM nor FM. The rain had flushed out termites or some kind of flying insect, and there was a roadrunner scooping them up. This was the best picture I could get – through the windshield, and telephoto. As far as I can tell, roadrunners don’t actually make that beep, beep sound.
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Okay, now I see why site #26 wasn’t popular. It floods when it rains, which explains all the sand and gravel. I decided that I was not going to pitch my tent in the rain. Since I’m just one person, I’ll be able to simply sleep on the table. I’ll stow all my things in the bear locker, of course. For a brief instant, I considered sleeping in the bear locker, as it was big enough if I curled up. Nah.

I slept pretty well, but occasionally woke up to look at the stars. There were strange, dim flashes of light across the entire sky. I didn’t hear any thunder, so if it was lightning, it must have been very far away. Maybe these were the legendary Marfa Lights?

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  1. You didn’t post yesterday; it’s good to know you’re safe. I join you in prayer for wisdom and protection on this trek. I believe Road Runner would make a “meep, meep” sound.

    1. Yes, no connectivity at the campground. And no wood or ground fires allowed. So most people went to sleep pretty early. The roadrunner didn’t make the revving turbo sound either when it was shooting down the road, but it definitely was a fast runner.

  2. Wait, what, you camped out at Big Bend?

    And bears? Bears in such a desolate looking place? Really? I’d be afraid to sleep unprotected. (Of course, I’d be afraid of even smaller critters, let alone bears… in the unlikely event I ever go backpacking, no “cowboy camping” for me!)

    1. I camped at the organized campground in Basin. $14, but that meant that I got a metal roof over my shelter (not every campsite had one), and a bathroom (no showers in the desert). I saw NO mammals at all in the whole area of the park that I visited, other than humans and their dogs. Not even a mouse or squirrel. Lots of bugs, but nothing that bit. Although I used the bear locker, I really doubted that any bear would wander into camp with all the people around.

      Come to think of it, I did see one sign of a mammal on the drive into the park. On the side of the road, in the bike lane, was a skeleton (possibly a deer?), complete with ribcage, but no head. I assume buzzards had picked it clean, and flies and ants had done the rest.

  3. Hi Rod! We just got home to Florida after our four month camping trip and finally got a chance to check out your blog… we carried your calling card all the way from Big Bend NP north through Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and back east! What an amazing journey you had! It was really fun to see your photo with us in your Big Bend post! Glad you made it back home safely.

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