Where I've Been

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Big Bend

Now I’ve wanted to go to Big Bend National Park since I moved to Texas a few years back. It’s found in the southwest of Texas, in the “Big Bend” of the Rio Grande. Big Bend is a desert, so I assembled a cadre of hearty desert-goers to attack the vast, dry, nomadic expanse. So after packing up our canteens, snake-bite kits, straw hats, burqas, and camels into our dune buggy we set out for west Texas.

When most people think of Texas, they imagine cowpoke, tumbleweeds, cacti, and single-toothed brothel employees. Actually this is west Texas. Fortunately, we brought our enlightened Austin culture with us.

You’ll note that the chess pieces had a standing mission to make a suicidal leap from the board due to the vibrations from the lonely Texas roads.

On the way we stopped at Sonora. Sonora is a lovely stop on the griddle-flat, dusty moonscape of our drive. We stopped for some local Mexican food and were alarmed to find that Sonora seems to be under a trade embargo specifically targeting green food coloring. Here you see them getting by coloring their guacamole dip with unsold cans of Ghostbusters® Ectoplasm from 1984. In all actuality, once the neon body paint had been removed from our palates, the ensuing “comida Mexicana” was a delight.

Our one weekend, two night outdoor camping trip was abruptly shortened to one night when DQ (that’s what I love about Texas*) made the call to stay in a motel due to “moist earth”. So instead of watching the big and bright stars of Texas, we watched Letterman.

The next morning we embarked on our river trip. Here are some fantastic shots of us in a Deliverance-like setting.

The cool thing about the Rio Grande is that it spans two nations, bringing them together in a river of understanding that could never be muddied by fences, legislation or mass deportation, ever.

The unmuddy waters of the Rio Grande:

Out of reverence, I sang “Ol’ Man River” repeatedly, much to the delight of my hearty companions who didn’t have the heart (or knowledge) to tell me that the song actually referred to the Mississippi, and that I wasn’t black.

The park website warned us not to approach immigrants crossing the border for our own safety. So we left this one alone.

Here we are in Mexico!

The river having been floated we shot over to the center of Big Bend: the Chisos Basin. Here we are setting up camp. I’m eating trail mix.

After setting camp we went for an evening hike to the Window. Here are beautiful shots along the way.

Here are shots from the Window, which we assume is about a 1000 foot sheer drop. A breathtaking view awaits the hiker as he nears the slick rock lined edge of the Window. I’ve gone back and edited this blog post to remove references to our 6th hearty companion who, unfortunately, achieved a much better view out of the Window than safety dictates. The removal of references to him will hopefully console grieving relatives. This paragraph, however, will not.

Mystical, eh?

Camping allowed us to relax and bond. Here’s a picture of Mike spying on Brian during a gay magazine photo shoot. I think Mike's a pervert!

In the middle of the night I was awakened, not by Brian trying to spoon with me (he did that so slyly I never awoke), but by a fantastic display of thunder and lightning. There’s not much more of a cooler feeling in the world than sitting in a tent in the middle of a mile-wide basin hearing the thunder cracking and rolling across the moonless, star and thundercloud sprinkled sky, listening to the rain cadence down on your tent roof as a brilliant flash occasionally explodes the desertscape into midday brightness.

The next morning found us hiking up this guy.

A mere 4 miles of slight incline hiking

found us here:

Sitting on top of the world we enjoyed our last breaths of Big Bend sun, hot, dry air, and profuse ladybugs (they were there in droves for some reason, I could have started a very lucrative organic farm).

With Big Bend in our rearview mirror we successfully passed a border checkpoint in under 45 seconds. As we drove through it became apparent that these border guards didn’t have much to worry about. Look out illegal aliens, God's building our walls!

Well that's Big Bend. Pretty soon I will release a post on my fantastic Northwest trip that is only approximately 3 months late.

Cheers folks.

*This parenthetical reference will only make sense if you’ve heard Dairy Queen advertisements in Texas, or if you just really love my friend, Dan Quinn.