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Posts Tagged ‘Big Bend NP’

Out of Monahans, West Texas we dipped due south, across the Pecos River and up the Stockton Plateau. Past the Glass Mountains, the Wood Hollows, and, beyond Marathon, we followed the old Great Comanche Trail toward the “big bend”, that portion of the Texas/Mexico border where the Rio Grande’s flow abruptly changes direction from southwest to northeast.

The landscape began to improve. Twenty six hundred forty seven miles into the trip we crossed the Santiago Mountains’ Persimmon Gap and

Octotillo ©SR Euston

entered Big Bend National Park. Spreading out to the horizon were 800,000 acres of protected Chihuahuan desert (an area larger than Rhode Island): a sea of grass, mesquite, scarlet-tipped ocotillo, prickly pear. We could see in the distance, jutting up between us and the Rio Grande, the silhouette of the High Chisos Complex, a broken jumble of desert mountains.

I guess big desert spaces scare some people, especially those used to seeing no farther than across the street. As for me, it was love at first sight.

We checked in with the volunteer ranger at the entry station. But our “Official Big Bend Greeter” turned out to be a bobcat, who, although typically a nocturnal creature, stood out in the open by the roadside in mid-afternoon, giving us a long leisurely stare before sauntering off into the mesquite. Less than a mile down the road we stopped to view a rattlesnake, sunning on the macadam. When we looked up there was a tarantula! By the time we broke camp at Rio Grande Village a week later, we’d seen such an array of roadrunners, raccoons, bats, rabbits, owls, squirrels, skunks, ringtails, insects and lizards, the coyote’s daily lunchtime stroll around the campground had come to seem pretty ho-hum.

Today as I look back, 30 years older, I mark that bobcat “howdy” as the moment my internal tectonics shifted. I knew. I had come home to the West.

Prickly Pear ©SR Euston

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