January 8 – 14
Stop number two for 2018 and another place with a nightly sunset show. We got the best camping spot overlooking the desert, distant mountains, and those gorgeous sunsets.
On The Way
At our last stop, we discovered a problem. One of Lucy’s rear dually tires had a pretty large, deep chunk gouged out of the sidewall. It wasn’t leaking, so we decided to head out and stop in Del Rio to get it changed. Fortunately we had a mounted spare. Most motorhomes don’t come with a spare at all. Pat does have the tools to do it himself, but we both agreed that it would be worth it to have someone else jack up big Lucy and do the dirty work.
Once we had cell service again, I googled up tire places and found one right on our way. We pulled in, and in 30 minutes or less, we’re motoring along on all undamaged tires for a super cheap price. Sigh of relief since tire or engine issues are worst case for us. Of course the most fun part was that the spare was in the very back of the largest storage bay, and required Pat to unload it to get to the tire. Picture chairs, buckets, grill, table, flamingos, etc., all in a pile in the parking lot.
On the way and getting close. Jackson is supervising the drive over the Amistad Reservoir.
Interestingly enough, I’m finding this area to have many similarities to our Alaska travels. The terrain is different, of course, but it does share the climate extreme that will sure enough kill you if you’re not prepared. In Alaska it’s the winter and here the summer. Also, lots of derelict buildings and businesses. We’re not sure if they are just closed or abandoned. And the navigating isn’t a challenge with just one road to get anywhere. I tell Pat to take a left and go 130 miles to the next place. I’m a genius like that. Plus we’re out of cell range much of the travel time and there’s not a lot of traffic.
Here we are at check in.
And our grand spot overlooking all there is to see.
Each campsite has a picnic area like this one. Since we’re on the end, we don’t see anyone else when we sit and stare out into the desert. It was quite windy and cold part of the time, so we were choosy about our sitting out.
Thorny stuff here, but a few berries, too. The prickly pear cactus have the big thorns, but also the little guys on the tops. And the ranger told us the yellow and orange cactus plants were frostbitten. Yep, it was below freezing one morning and Jackson’s water bowl had a good layer of ice in it.
The plants all had rock labels like this one. The cenizo has surprisingly soft, velvety leaves even though everything else, including the grass, is super prickly. This is not Jackson’s favorite place since I keep picking burs out from between his sensitive toes. Those dog boots can’t come fast enough.
Some shots of Seminole Canyon from the visitor’s center and looking back at it.
You coming momma? Jackson is concerned that I’m hanging back to take pictures on the windmill trail.
I looked up from my blogging perch at one point to see this guy in the tree right outside the driver’s side window. Such a brilliant red contrast to the grey branches. The plants seem to be all grey in this environment and not brown at all.
Seminole Canyon only has water in it during heavy rains. Otherwise it’s dry with just a few pools of water.
In this canyon, you can’t hike without the ranger since it’s home to prehistoric rock art. The oldest pictographs in North America on the cave walls. These rock paintings are detailed and date back to the time the Egyptian pyramids were being built. The painters had to make their paint from minerals and animal fats, and it’s still unknown who these people were, as well as what the pictures signified.
It’s difficult to make out the details in the photo and on some of the rocks at this point. A couple back in the 50’s painted copies of the pictographs so they wouldn’t completely be lost over time. I liked the hands the best.
Look at this texture. The softer limestone rocks are eroded by the wind into delicate patterns.
More rock texture and color. Also a several hundred year old Mesquite tree that’s still hanging onto the cave wall and still alive. Pat surveys the scene from the cave.
Sunsets. I can’t get enough of them.
The sunset perch.
Judge Roy Bean
He was “THE LAW West of the Pecos”. This justice of the peace handed down judgments using his law library which consisted of just one book – the 1879 Revised Statutes of Texas. It was a rough time in the West and the judge took care of the legal dealings in the area since the closest Texas Ranger station was over 100 miles away. We took a ride down the road to the Judge Roy Bean visitor’s center in nearby Langtry, TX to check it all out.
We got our bag, literally, of tourist info, and took a stroll on the grounds to see the original buildings from the 1880s, including the saloon.
These should be house rules everywhere don’t you think?
They also had a cactus garden on site including this example called the ‘horse crippler’. That middle spine is tough. I touched it to be sure. Supposedly this one can cause flats on ranch vehicles, too.
And purple cactus. I think these may be frostbitten, too, but love the color.
I Know A Lady
The guy at the visitor center’s desk in Langtry was the best. So enthusiastic and had been everywhere we wanted to go. We got some great suggestions for Big Bend scenic drives and hikes, as well as restaurant recommendations. I asked if there were any hiking trails nearby, since I wanted to get closer to this view….
He says no. All those caves and canyon spots are on private land. But, he says he knows a lady. He can show us how to get to the only view of the Rio Grande in this area through her property. She won’t mind. Now you’re talking! The guy walks us outside and points in the direction of a dirt & gravel road. He says to go as far as we’re comfortable in Bitsy and then hike the rest of the way. Shouldn’t be more than a mile or so.
The Rio Grande looking both directions. We didn’t see the lady.
To get to Judge Roy Bean’s place we did have to cross over the Pecos. It was the right time of the day for a shadow shot.
The Pecos River
We stood here for the longest time trying to figure out where the people were. We swore there were kids talking and an older man talking, too. But where were the people? Pat went back to the car for binoculars and then we heard the unmistakable sound. Goats! A whole group of them just on the other side down the rock cliff. While I waited for the binoculars, I noticed a truck camper up on a hill. We need to figure out how to get there. And we did.
The Pecos River High Bridge – highest highway bridge in Texas.
What We Saw The Most
A few things stand out on our drives back and forth between Seminole Canyon and Del Rio, the closest civilization. There were more dead skunks on the road than I’ve seen or smelled anywhere. And then there were the Border Patrol trucks. They followed behind on the road, parked on the sides of the road, and even drove through the campground. There was an “inspection station” we had to stop at every time we headed back to the campground from town. They had a lift to raise cars up to inspect underneath, and a rolling staircase so they could shine flashlights to look on top of the semi truck cabs. Yes, we are US citizens we’d say, and they’d send us on our way. I guess you get used to this so close to the Mexico border.
The week is up and time to seek a warmer spot. It’s supposed to be 19 degrees tonight where we were camped. Turns out another cold blast is going to get us no matter what. Next up – Lajitas, TX and Big Bend National Park where we hope it’s warmer. See you on the way.