Big Bend Park 2

18 Dec

Big Bend National Park is huge and we had only seen a small section in the south east corner. I voted to do a quick drive through more of the park and then continue west to Big Bend Ranch State Park. We did not take any of the side roads to the Hot Springs or other camp grounds in the National Park although I’m sure the mountains would have been beautiful and a soak in a Hot Springs is always fun. Maybe another time.
Big Bend Ranch State Park is a relatively new Texas State Park and other than hiking trails, has not be extensively developed. The camp ground we stopped at was very primitive with no drinking water and a single out house. That structure was unique because it was raised up about 7 feet with an easy pump tank below. There were no campers while we ate lunch there. The site we used was beside the river access so after lunch Harry went fishing. He didn’t catch anything but the stop was a nice treat. I don’t know how anyone could ever even think this could be a “secure border.”  Crossing the river would not be extremely hard.

The highway between the National Park and the Presido followed along the river but was a 30 mph roller coaster over sand dune or limestone hills. DSC_0447There were hoodoos, beautifully layered valleys and very few signs of humanity other than the road. We never expected to find this scenery in Texas. Fort Lawson provided a quick restroom stop in the restored adobe buildings. The landscape changed once we reached Presido into a wide cactus covered valley surrounded by more mountains in the distance. After the highway through the State Park, this road was a piece of cake.  DSC_0441Along the way we saw a number of abandoned adobe ranch houses. We didn’t see any that were photogenic but I’m sure they had an interesting story to tell.  The only place we slowed down was for the dug dogs to sniff the van at the border patrol check point.

The city of Marfa is described as an artist town but the parts we saw did not impress. One flat dusty western town seems to look a lot like another flat dusty western town. We continued northward to Ft Davis and Ft Davis State Park. The State Park had the hook ups that we needed but isn’t on our must return list. Ft Davis the city, however had the charm that was lacking in Marfa. We are suckers for court houses with character and Ft Davis qualified. We would return to do more exploring.

We picked up I 10 at Balmohea. Balmohea State Park has a huge set of swimming pools and warm spring pools. I’m sure the place is very popular in the summer although it is a long way from any major city. I 10 had few oil wells and no refineries making it much nicer than I 20 to the north. At Ft Stockton we picked up US 67 towards San Angelo. This was more like traveling the original Route 66 with interesting small towns and lots of ranches and farms. We stopped for a breakfast sandwich at a small dinner/gas station. It was fun to listen to the local coffee club chat about the weather and local events between answering questions about who we were and why we were there.

We spent the night in Brownwood although we never did find Lake Brownwood State Park. There were no road signs, the GPS sent us in the wrong direction and the gentlemen at the ACE Hardware put us on the right road but said it was about 6 miles outside of town. We gave up at 12 miles out and learned the next morning that it was closer to 20 miles. The state park directory gives a description and address but does not provide directions. The campground directory did not list that one. Oh well.

Our last stop for the trip was Dinosaur Valley State Park south of Ft Worth. DSC_0458We hiked along the river stopping to view the tracks from a brontosaurus cousin and a T-Rex cousin left in the sand stone. The best of the tracks had been removed and sent to New York in the 20’s but the remaining ones were still cool. They are visible when the water is low so we timed it well. They also have plaster casts in the info center if the water is too high but we didn’t need them. It was a fun and interesting way to wrap up out trip.   All four of us were ready to get home but also ready to plan a longer trip. Spring may bring a sign on the van that reads “California or Bust.” Murphy the cat says he is ready.

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