Friday, November 13, 2009

Chisos Basin Big Bend to Del Rio TX

It was cold this morning – temperature 44 when we got up. We were not cold in the night as the sleeping bags do their job but it was chilly outside until the sun began to warm things up. The resident Canyon Towhee was at work staking her turf – she came inside the Sprinter while Jane was eating her cereal and explored around the front seat as well. We had other visitors this morning – two beautiful deer. They were about 4 feet tall, yet had antlers so they were full grown. They were very close to our camp.

Our first stop of the day was at the Basin Camp Store and Lodge Area where we hiked out to the “Window” area for the view and some photos.

Jane at the Window area at Chisos Basin

Then we found a pay phone that worked for Ben to call his office and Jane to call her Mom. We headed down the mountain from Chisos Basin to Panther Junction. From This major junction in all park roads we headed north toward the northern park entrance, Persimmon Gap. When we stopped at this last visitor center we got the last Big Bend Passport Stamp. Right outside the park boundary we took a side trip south to visit the Stillwell Store. This was the home of Hattie Stillwell, a lady who homesteaded here until her death. She has written several books about life on a west Texas ranch.

We then headed directly north to the small town of Marathon. We thought Marathon might be as nice as Alpine but it was much less of a town. They are only 25+ miles apart and Marathon was billed as the jumping off town for Big Bend but it had little to offer besides a neat looking hotel and nice RV park/motel that was for sale. We saw the French Grocery that Jane had read about on the internet – thinking it might have good sandwiches we went in and looked around. The two sandwiches the lady offered us were ham and swiss cheese – which we had ourselves. The grocery did have a nice selection of high end groceries and wines. There was a bakery that looked promising – Burnt Biscuit – but a sign on the door said closed for two weeks….so we just parked under a tree and had our normal picnic lunch!

We then began a long drive east across Texas ranch land. There were a few very small towns, ranches but not many cattle within view. We were stopped at another Border Patrol Stop mid afternoon. We had one interesting stop at Langtry TX. This was the small town just west of the Pecos River settled by Judge Roy Bean. His saloon/courtroom have been preserved and a short video tells the story of his “West of the Pecos Justice”. The Community he named for the lady he thought most beautiful – Lilly Langtry. He wrote her letters for many years about the community and she finally visited after his death.

Ben at Judge Roy Bean Bar and Courtroom

Flags at Halfstaff due to Killings at Fort Hood

We continued east crossed the Pecos River where it joins the Rio Grande. There is a dam on the Rio Grande and the area is a huge lake and sports fishing area. We finally arrived in Del Rio about 5:00 and easily found the Broke Mill RV Park that Jane had selected for having everything we needed to regroup after our days in West TX. We had cable TV, WIFI, electricity, showers (really nice ones) and we were only 5 miles from a Wal-Mart. Not that we like Wal-Mart that well but they do tend to have everything you need in one stop!

When we checked in we found they were having country music in their recreation hall at 7:00 and got a recommendation for a Mexican Restaurant – so our evening was planned! We checked email for about half an hour and then drove to Memo’s Restaurant By the San Felipe Creek. This restaurant was established in 1936 by the parents of Blondie Calderon who was pianist and musical arranger for Ray Price. When his parents died Blondie took over the management of the restaurant. He had photos of all the country music stars on his walls – Minnie Pearl, Ray Price, Reba Macintire, Waylon Jennings to mention a few. The atmosphere was great and the food really good. We did not linger too long as we needed to be back for the music!

It should be noted here that the Tri Cities has a tie to Del Rio since the Carter Family came here to play on the huge radio station that had been set up in Mexico where there were no restrictions on the broadcasting. They were heard over a huge part of the US. Can't remember when this was...30's maybe.

Tonights band was the owner of the RV Park and 5 of his buddies. Wednesday night is their practice night and the residents of the park get to attend and listen. They were really quite good and played many Texas Country songs. We stayed about an hour and a half listening and visiting with some of the others staying in the RV Park. This was a winter destination park for most of the others there. The couple we talked with longest were from northern Colorado and have stayed here from November to April for the last 5 years. We will begin meeting more and more of these folks as we continue east along the south TX. From reading blogs of several other full-time RV folks most do not arrive until into December.

We watched a little TV and continued catching up on internet communications until time for bed.

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