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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Alpine Texas

We are camped at the Lost Alaskan RV Park in Alpine. We are back to civilization again after a week of  "roughing it" in the outback. The park, like many other parks we have been in, offers wifi but it is extremely slow. I tried updating our blog this morning and gave up after seeing how long it would take. So we loaded up the laptop and headed to McDonald's. Thank God for the McDonald's, they offer high speed wifi at all their locations.

The day started very windy and chilly. The weather here changes faster and more often then Minnesota weather. The day before yesterday it was mid 90's today it's maybe 50.  This is colder then we want. We are deciding today where to head next.

This evening we are heading to the Town of Marfa Texas. Marfa is the home of the mysterious lights. First reported by early settlers in 1883, the mysterious lights still defy explanation. Eight miles east of town there is the viewing center that was recently expanded to eight acres which includes a large viewing deck complete with restrooms. Reports from those who have been there say your chances of seeing the lights are 50 /50. It doesn't seen to matter what time, day of the week, weather conditions or cloud conditions, the lights are either there or not. Maybe tonight will be a lucky night for us.

For more information on the lights:  Google Marfa Lights

Update on the Marfa lights:  Well we stuck around for a little over an hour and didn't see anything other then a sky FULL of stars. There must of been close to a hundred or so people coming and going during the time we were there. I'm sure the minute we left all hell broke loose......

Finally, before driving over to Marfa we drove around Alpine and Chris took some pictures, with her phone, of some interesting places in town.

Chloe we found your store, it's pink and only sells Jewelry and Cosmetics


Three Amigo's

 Catholic Church

Alicia's Restaurant

Big Bend National Park

 Entering Big Bend National Park

We pulled into Big Bend National Park at about 1:00 in the afternoon; it was a beautiful sunny warm day. The park is huge 30 miles from the park entrance to the visitor’s center and then another 20 miles to our campgrounds at Rio Grande Village, as soon as we left the visitors center two javelins (wild pigs) ran out in front of the RV it looked like it might have been a mom and baby.

We found a very nice campsite, there are no amenities like electricity, water, showers, cell coverage or Wi-Fi  we couldn’t even use our generator in this section of the park. We had to learned how to live off the grid for the week. We had a quick lunch and took the nature trail down to the Rio Grande River.  You could actually walk across the river at this point and be in Mexico. The town of Boquillas sits on the hill across the river. There is no legal entry to or from Mexico in the entire park since 9-11 so to make a little money the men come across the river on horseback and place their walking sticks and trinkets to sell along the trails, there are signs warning Americans that if they purchase any items from the Mexicans we could face a $5000.00 fine and up to a year in jail and the Mexicans if caught will face arrest and deportation at a location more than a 100 miles away. We ended our day with a BBQ and went to bed early because no electricy means no lights and it’s very dark here. 

 Site number 48 in Rio Grande Village Campground

Rio Grande  Trail

 Rio Grande Trail

Mexican men plowing their field

 River access from  Mexican side

 Mexican goods for sale along the trail

Today we woke up to a very chilly morning 36 degrees but as soon as the sun rises it warms up fast, little did we know how warm that sun can get. We packed a picnic lunch and two bottles of water a piece and set off on a six mile hike to the hot springs. The first half of the trip went smoothly. We reached the hot springs and decided to just sit and relax and soak our tired feet and visit with the people who were soaking in the pool. The water reaches a temperature of 105 degrees and is just a natural pool that sits right on the Rio Grande River, very pretty. We spent about an hour there and then set off on our return trip around noon. It had really warmed up and the first part of our climb out didn’t go well, we both got very dizzy and sick at almost the same time we were very overheated from the hot springs and the sun, plus we didn’t bring enough water. It was a very tedious trip back but we did make it out OK and learned a good lesson about how much water you need in the desert heat. The rest of the day was spent recovering.

Trail to the Hot Spring

Along the Hot Spring trail

Chris at the edge of the Hot Spring standing in the Rio Grande river

This morning was very chilly and windy and we decided to take it easy on the hiking so we took a drive up into the Chisos Mountains, the scenery was just beautiful, very different from the desert where we are staying. There is a campground up here but it is restricted to vehicles 24 feet and shorter. The higher elevation also means a much cooler temperature, up to 20 degrees cooler. After looking around this area for awhile we continued our drive through the park another 35 miles to yet another campground. From here it was a short drive to a very popular site, Santa Elena Canyon, where we took one of the most scenic hikes we have ever been on. The canyon was fantastic. We decided to call it a day and went back to the camper for a BBQ and some down time.

Santa Elena Canyon

End of canyon trail

The weather is getting better, it’s not so cold this morning and we ate our breakfast outside. We took another drive this morning and ended up at the Boquillas Canyon. At the overlook you can get a good look at the little village of Boquillas Mexico, its definitely not the typical border town, it looks like a town that you would see in an old western movie, there is only one dirt road going into the town. We walked down into the Canyon and met and talked to one of the Mexican men that crosses the river and sells or at least tries to sell his goods. While I would loved to have bought some souvenirs we didn't but we did give him a small donation. We then continued our walk along the Rio Grande to another beautiful canyon. We then returned to the hot springs again, but this time we drove. We saw the area that we missed by hiking in from the other side, the ruins are of the store and other historic buildings that are no longer in use.

 Hot Springs Remains

Today we visited the town of Terlingua Texas, it’s just outside of the park on the west side. Part of the town is an old quick silver mining ghost town that hippies and artists have rejuvenated.  They have bought up many of the ruins and converted them into art galleries, restaurants; little stores, hotels, and homes.  It was interesting but the same shopping that you see everywhere. We had a picnic lunch at a cute park in town, then stopped for coffee and did a little catching up at a cafe that had Wi-Fi.  We than took the long ride back to the park for supper and bed by dark.

 Texas BBQ at our picnick site

 Texas State Flower....Texas Blue Bonnet
Unidentified tree buds

Our last full day here, I sure hate to think about leaving. The weather has been just about perfect, it’s a little too early in the year for all the birds that are normally seen in the spring at the park but we have been lucky enough to see quite a few. Today we did the Lost Mine Trail hike which is back in the Chisos Basin, a 4.8 mile hike. The first half of the hike is a steep climb, uphill all the way to 7600 feet. The views at the top were amazing and well worth the trip. The trip down was a piece of cake, going downhill is so much easier that going up. We than had a picnic lunch at a pretty little picnic area then back to the RV for some rest and relaxation. In the evening it still hadn’t cooled down so we sat outside and looked at the stairs and listened to an old cowboy singing country western songs with his guitar till we were ready for bed.

Lost mine trail leads to the top
Views along the way to the lost mine

 Beautiful views

 Saw this guy along the way

Time to head down

The following are some of the birds we had in our campsite

Wood Pecker