Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Window Trail In Big Bend National Park, Texas

After bouncing around New Mexico, the Guadalupe Mountains, and Terlingua, we finally made it into Big Bend National Park.

Since we were only going to stay in Big Bend one day we decided to take the Window Trail.  We aren't exactly the fittest people around so a 3.6 mile round trip hike sounded doable.  The trailhead marker said it was 3.6 miles round trip, but the website says 5.6 miles.  I have to tell you that was the LONGEST 3.6 miles if that is what it was!   I am going to have to lean towards it being 5.6 miles because it took us over three hours to get there, stand around looking while there, and then return.

Keep in mind this was in July.  In Texas. Where the average temperature is 93 F.

What were we thinking???

Probably that it is always hot and if we waited until it cooled down we would NEVER get to do anything!

Anyways, we start off all happy-go-lucky on our trail of dreams and then these were the signs that greeted us.

Oh my gosh.  We are going to die.

Apparently we are pretty stupid.  We decide to go hiking in the desert in summer AND we don't let signs about being mauled to death by lions and bears stop us either.

Thankfully, the only deadly animals we saw beyond birds, were these:


tadpoles, and

some gorgeous tiger swallowtail butterflies.

See, not even the lions and bears are stupid enough to come out in the oppressive heat.

The trail is easy to see. There wasn't any real danger of wandering off it and not knowing.  It doesn't require over the top hiking equipment either.  Good sturdy tennis shoes worked for us. That and plenty of water.  We actually should have taken more.  If anything had happened and we had to have stayed out there for any longer, we would have been goners from dehydration.

If you enjoy the flora and fauna of  desert regions then you will love this trail, or pretty much any trail in Big Bend.  It does start to look all the same, but our friend Mike is a whiz at naming the plants we saw.  I like when we goes with us places, I always learn so much about the vegetation around me.
If I ask Frankie what type of plant I am looking at or what it is called, all I get in response is, "I don't know.  A tree, maybe."

There are more colors than brown and green if you keep an eye out for them.

The cacti were in bloom while we were there and they are beautiful!

These first two photos are of a cholla cactus.  I have also seen them with yellow blossoms.

Then we have to good ol' prickly pear cactus with its lovely yellow flower.  I think this should be the second official flower of Texas after the bluebonnet!

This little pincushion cactus wasn't flowering, but how could I pass up taking a picture of something so adorable??  How??  I couldn't!!

There are of course, more plants out there besides cactus. Most, if not all, are full of thorns and will hurt the living daylights out of you if you accidentally fall on it, or merely brush by too aggressively. They somehow know if you are close and I swear, reach out and grab!!

Take for example this agave plant (aka century plant) embedded in a prickly pear cactus with a mesquite tree starting to grow right in front of it!!  That is just meanness upon meanness, just waiting for the unexpecting non-native to get too close!!

We have a lot of mesquite trees at our house (couldn't get rid of them if we tried!) and they can be pretty.  But don't let that fool you!  They grow thorns that can get to 2 inches long and they HURT if you step on them!!  They can and will go through tennis shoes soles!

Of course, if you can get past the lions, bears, cacti, and other mean plants there are other things to see.  I would never say the desert has a soft side, but it does have a less gruesome side.  Plus, let's face it, you just can't beat some of the views!

 After 3 years, ok, maybe it was closer to 2 hours, we reach The Window.

The view is spectacular and I have heard that when it rains, it runs down that gap causing a waterfall down below.

But what they don't tell you is that it is slippery slippery slippery on those rocks!   I am talking scary slippery!!

While we were there Mike slipped and hurt his ankle.  I could feel how slick those rocks were.  We all could.  Frankie decided to get closer to the edge and I got scared he was going to fall.  All I could think of was if he fell, there would be no getting him back.  So I panicked and got really upset.  Of course, there were other people we didn't know around.  But I didn't care.  I just knew I was about to become a widow.  I couldn't even see him anymore!!

He had gone over.  Without even time to make a sound.  I just knew it.

Then Frankie came back up.  Perfectly fine.  I was the one a complete mess.  It took awhile for me to calm down too.  He kept repeating that there was a lip and there was no way he was going to fall. I know I overreacted but I couldn't help it.  My husband, my life, my all-in-all, had been in jeopardy!

After I calmed down and gave him tons of dirty looks for scaring me, we started the trek back to the car.  It was fairly uneventful.  But it was still long, uphill, and have I mentioned how hot it was??

I have to say, I never saw a prettier sign!!  A mere three tenths of a mile and we could just sit.  Just sit and have the threat of immediate death far behind us.

It was a nice hike and I would do it again, but Frankie would not be allowed to go past a certain point!!  He just wouldn't!!

My next post will be about the Greek Festival we went to in San Antonio and then we will fly ourselves away to Poland where I find new tales to blog about!

Until then!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Cemetery In Terlingua, Texas

On our way to Big Bend National Park we took a short tour through Terlingua, Texas.  We were not really looking for anything particular, just looking.  We came across the Terlingua Cemetery and had to stop!

It doesn't seem like much, but to see all these old simple wooden crosses protruding in a multitude of directions from the hard rocky floor of the west Texas desert was an amazing sight to behold.

As in all cemeteries there were old abandoned graves, and more modern very immaculate graves.

I don't recall seeing any names on these below, but there was great care in their maintenance.

There were several raised (for lack of a better term, at least in my limited vocabulary) graves.

Again, some looked newer.

But  more of them were much much older.

Many of the graves only had rocks covering the area or just the perimeter of the grave.  I mean there really is only so much that will grow out there.  A person can't expect a lovely carpet of green grass to grow over the grave, so this would be the sensible alternative.

Some the graves marked the passing of adults.

Some marked the passing of children.

It had all the requirements to make it a cemetery....graves.  Lots and lots of graves.  But, I am glad that we got the visit this particular cemetery.  It brings to mind that the people of Terlingua really are a different type of people.  They live in a remote part of Texas in a tiny town where the sun beats down relentlessly most of the year.  It takes a tough person to put up with that type of atmosphere.  I can't imagine what it was like back when Terlingua was a mining town!

I leave you with one last shot from the cemetery.  It is my personal favorite. 

In my next post I will delight you with a tale of our hike on a trail in Big Bend National Park.

Until then!