Thursday, June 1, 2017

March 29, 2017 - Marathon, TX to Big Bend National Park, TX

I was hoping to be up before sunrise, but it was too late. I missed it by15 minutes.  I am not a morning person, so this is why I hardly take sunrise pictures.  Taking pictures of sunsets is never a problem for me.

I went by myself to check out Marathon Cemetery. Erwin stayed behind to get our Lil’ Home (LH) ready for our trek to Big Bend National Park, about 85 miles south of Marathon.

The cemetery is not very big, has some tombstones dating back to late 1890’s.  In the very back of the cemetery is a separate plat for Hispanic burials.

On way back to the campground I stopped at several places to get pictures.  I looked up Marathon’s tourism website for attractions, so I went around to check them out.

Before leaving for Big Bend National Park we filled up the Jeep and the LH at Alon gas station in Marathon, TX. We then left the LH by the gas station because we wanted to check out the historic Gage Hotel.

The Gage Hotel was designed by the El Paso firm of Trost and Trost, was built in 1926-1927 for Alfred S. Gage, who was from Vermont.  Afred was a successful cattleman, founded the largest ranching operation in Trans-Pecos area. After he moved to San Antonio he became a successful banker. The hotel was his residence and as the headquarters for his local cattle interest.  The exterior and interior were very beautiful and ornate.


We went back to the gas station where we left the LH, hooked the Jeep to it, got on Highway 385 from Hwy 90 at 11:15 am.  The drive along the way was very beautiful. There were not many vehicles.

You can see Santiago Peak on the right side when going south to Big Bend. The elevation is 6,551’. The peak can be seen from Marathon (80 miles away).


We stopped at Visitor’s Center at Panther Junction, checked with the ranger about campground. He told us to go to Rio Grande Visitor’s Center, and Rio Grande told us to go to Rio Grande General Store.  We finally got passes for the LH and the Jeep.

At Rio Grande General Store the guy told us to go to the campground, look for the host, then park your RV.  We must have wasted a total of 30 minutes stopping to get information.  We went in the campground (nonelectric site; however, generator use is allowed between 8 am-8 pm), looked for site #14. Not a pull through, but we did not have to back in.


After quick lunch we went out for a hike at Rio Grande Nature Trail that was not too far from our campsite.  We brought two bottles of water and Erwin wore a wide-brimmed hat, carried a walking stick.  I had a baseball cap on.

Rio Grande River
Rio Grande River

We followed the trail to get a close look of the Rio Grande River.  The trails down to the river banks were too steep for us, so we did not go down there.  The view of the canyons, across the river, was outstanding.

Both of us were already dehydrated, even though we drank two bottles and the hike itself did not take more than one hour round trip.  My face was already red and I could feel it.  

After we got back “home” it was very warm inside, so we opened the windows to let the breeze in.  While we were resting Erwin read in the Park flyer that warned us not to buy handmade souvenirs that were made and brought in by Mexican merchants. The crafts are contraband and will be seized by the park rangers if encountered.

We felt refreshed and were ready to head out again.  We drove to Boquillas Canyon Trail and Overlook, a 4 mile away from the campground.

First stop was at the overlook.  Great view. There an entrance to Boquillas Crossing. It is a port of entry to go across the river to Boquillas, Mexico.  Passports are required.  $5 per person to get on a boat to cross the Rio Grande River to Boquillas Del Carmen Village. We did not bring our passports and we will come back (maybe). 
Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry

Mexico is on the far side of Rio Grande River.

Mexican crafts

Boquillas Crossing Village

The last stop was at Boquillas Canyon Trail.  It is a 1 1/2 mile round trip, and it was still hot when we got there.  We decided not to hike this time, maybe early in the morning.

We stopped at the store in Rio Grande to use wifi for a short while. There were lots of young hikers congregating at the store.

We made a very simple supper consisting of deer chops, mashed potatoes and corn.  

At first, I thought Rio Grande Overlook near the tunnel might be a good spot for sunset viewing, but when we got there we realized the view is blocked by the mountains.  We drove through the tunnel, planned to go further down before we spotted an off-road. I wanted to try this route to see if there was a good spot and there was!  

Great view of the Chisos Mountains with the setting sun and the clouds.  The winds were gentle, but it started to feel cool.  Temperature was 74 degrees at that time.  I felt good about capturing beautiful sunset pictures.

Late at night around 10 pm I went outside to check the night sky.  Oh wow!!! Big Bend National Park is one of the darkest places in the lower 48 states.  I saw few shooting stars and my camera was able to capture two!

I studied the park map for tomorrow’s outing. I think we may take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, a route that is famous for many scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way. 


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