Monday, December 5, 2011

Days 162 - 165: West Texas

We finished early enough in the day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park that we had time to drive south to camp at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Which is in Texas!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park was created in 1972 from land donated by geologist
Wallace Pratt, and land purchased from rancher JC Hunter Jr.

The campground was basically a parking lot but the park was pretty, in a desert-like way.  Except for McKittrick Canyon, which has water flowing thru it.

Wallace Pratt, a geologist sent to the area to explore for oil, fell in love with the canyon, bought it, built a vacation cabin, and later donated all of it to help create the park.  Here we sit on the porch of the cabin that, except for some roof support timbers, was built entirely from local stone.  Floor, walls, and even the roof are stone.

After camping at Guadalupe Mountains NP we drove thru the towns of Van Horn and Marfa.  We'd planned to camp in Marfa but it was too cold and the hotels a bit pricey so we drove onto Alpine and got a cheap room there.  Here we celebrate with Lone Star beer, tuna salad,  and a game of "VC", a card game we had played with Vince, Stef, and Ali in Mexico last year.  Fortnuately, Vince knows the game very well because we had forgotten some of the rules.

LeTigre in Terlingua!
What a weirdly cool town.  We wanted to spend our time in Big Bend so we just did a quick drive-by but we'll definitely be back to explore this place more.

Onto Big Bend...

...where we got a great campsite in the Chisos Basin.

Angie and Kipper took the day off but Vince and I did the "Window" hike which started from the campground.  The entire Chisos Basin drains into this funnel and as a result the water has been polishing the rock for thousands of years, so that it's become smooth as glass!
It looks like ice and is so smooth that it's slippery.

Sunset at Chisos Basin, the Window in the distance.

Vince is a real camper.  Unless it was below freezing, he slept in a hammock rather than the van!  Yep, he's in there.

Hot springs!  Big Bend has a hot spring down by the Rio Grande that pools in the foundation of an old bath house.  There was also an abandoned store and some other structures from when there was a town here.

Mexico is just across the water!

Camping among the mesquite trees at Rio Grande Village.
Another beautiful West Texas sunset.

The historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, TX.
Unfortunately not in the budget this trip so we just took a quick look.

We did, however, get some sandwiches down the street at Guzzi Pizza (very tasty).
Good thing we did, because our plans to camp at Garner State Park got rained out...

...and we drove all the way home!

We'll be here over the holidays and into January before heading east for the second leg of our journey.  Please drop us a line if you have suggestions for destinations in the eastern US and Canada.  In the meantime we'll be fixing up LeTigre and working on some other projects.  We'll continue updating this blog with anything interesting, including entries about LeTigre's status and some information about our budget and how the trip is going.

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