Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Big Bend National Park, Day 1

Wasn't able to post last night since the campground where we're staying has no wifi, nor any hookups--we're in Rio Grande Village Campground, and it's just gorgeous!  They do have an area near the store where they have RV hookups, but we decided to stay in the barebones campground, based on near unanimous recommendations from those who've been here.  It's our first experience with "dry camping," or "boon docking," in the RVer's vernacular.  All you hard core boondockers out there will laugh, since they do have restrooms nearby--it's not like being out in the middle of nowhere--but it is our first experience without being tethered to the water and electrical at our site.  And, we're finding that we can do this, and in fact enjoy it!  Glad for all the tips before we left--tip of the hat to Lynne of Winnie Vies for recommending changing out to LED bulbs, which use much less electricity.  We've been using electricity for the hot water heater thus far, but the propane did it's job fine enough to do the dishes and for hot showers!  And, the little portable inverter I got before we left did just fine to run the coffee maker this morning, so we're very happy to expand our horizons a little!

Anyway, when we got here the wind was really blowing hard and it was still pretty overcast.  The campground is virtually empty, and we found a lovely spot, shaded by some mesquite trees, and took the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail hike--across a lovely beaver pond where we met some birders who showed us a unique species of duck they were watching, and gave us some tips for beginning birders--in fact today bought the birders guide book they recommended, and I'm starting to learn a little bit about ways to identify birds.  Then the trail took us to points where we could see many different species of desert plants and flowers, and see the transition from desert to river bank along the Rio Grande.  We had views of a little village in Mexico across the river, Ojo Caliente--Hot Eye--and the larger town of Bocacillo a bit farther upriver.  And we had a magnificent view of the Sierra del Carmen mountains in Mexico.  We walked down a path that led us right to the banks of the Rio Grande, en route seeing several little collections of beaded craft goods and walking sticks, with just a hand lettered sign asking you to leave money in the jar for them.  But the signs posted at the beginning of the trail warned against doing this, as obtaining many listed items from Mexicans is illegal in the US; plus the guide book said we could be subject to significant fines if we crossed over the border and got caught coming back.  Had been told that several years ago you were allowed to wade across the river to Bocacillo.

Anyway, the wind was so strong, we did not make it to the highest point on the trail--it really got a little scary, since there were some very exposed places and since I have episodic disequelibrium, I didn't want to take a chance.  So we came back to the RV, had supper, and listened to the howling winds as we went to bed.

Pics from yesterday:

Couple of views as we entered the park

We stopped to register a the Panther Junction Visitors Center, and they had a wonderful little walking path with a printed guide to help identify many of the different plants and flowers we would see in the park:

 Lots of different varieties of cactus!

Footbridge over beaver pond--the beaver dam was not visible here--it was behind the tall weeds.
 Beautiful cactus flower

View as we hiked on higher and this is the view looking back toward the beaver pond on the right, with the Rio Grande to the left in the distance.

 Looking toward Mexico
 Handcrafted goods for sale along the trail.

Fascinating series of "mortar" holes--guidebook said prehistoric people used these like mortar and pestle, to grind up beans and other foods.

2 views of the Sierra del Carmen mountains in Mexico

By the banks of the Rio Grande, looking toward Mexico

Bocacillo, Mexico

As yet unidentified bird as we walked back to the campsite
 Our spot in the campground

Well, we drove the RV from our campground over to the store where they have wifi, but we're so tuckered from our 5 mile hike today that we need to close up and head back to the campsite  for the night.  We broke out the hiking boots for the first time today and did what the guide book calls a "moderately strenuous" hike, with 1100' elevation rise from trailhead to the peak, 2 1/2 miles and then back down.  For folks who've not been hiking regularly, strenuous was the operative word! But it was gorgeous, and will post later about the hike with some pics.  Just witnessed sunset against the Sierra del Carmen, but I know none of my pictures will ever do it justice.  Just know that we've never seen anything quite like it!  Everywhere we turn there's something new and beautiful to see.  God's creation is beyond words, and we're beyond happy and blessed to be able to do what we're doing!


  1. Well I am just thrilled to read today's post see the super pictures. Feels like I am right there with you guys.


  2. Dry camping - just like being at WalMart!! It can be done and good practice, just in case! You're doing wonderful and so many great adventures. Trip of a lifetime for sure. Wendell & jennifer

  3. Thanks for the encouraging words!