As I walked to the place I was going to have dinner in Del Rio, Tx., I stopped for a cold one. I asked a local next to me, when the school kids Spring Break was; he said right now! I knew that meant they’d over run Big Bend National Park where I was headed. The next day I started driving early, taking US Rt. 90, which goes west through desolate nowherelands. In the little town of Sanderson I knew there was a visitor center for Big Bend N.P. and my road went right through there. I found it, went in and asked what they thought. They said, if I had a choice, go to Big Bend some other time!!! That did it. The circumstances thrown at me were overwhelming, although changing my course was disappointing. Last year I put this place off, one of my favorites and near the top of my Don’t Miss List, and I never got back. Last year I struck it to avoid monsoon-like rains that were forecast for days. This year the monsoon got me in Louisiana and marooned me for a day in a megamart parking lot. I tucked my nest into the concave of walls where they service cars and rode it out. Last year almost to the day, the forecast said rain forever in Texas and I drove two marathon days to get on the other side of it before it arrived, so no Big Bend or kayaking in St. Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande, walking to balanced rock where I saw a lizard that must’ve been all decked out for Easter, walking to the Window on Chisos Mountain or soaking my feet in Terlingua Creek. This year I’m getting there on my way east for sure.
Now, after the afore mentioned monsoon, Spring Break college party in South Padre Island with a spoonbill fly over, and taunting blue crabs, no Big Bend, cancelled by the guaranteed swarming school kids there for their spring break, knocked me off my game. I hated to postpone Big Bend. I’d looked forward to kayaking in the slot canyon cut by the Rio Grande over the millenniums; what a serene experience as I listen to the echoes of canyon wrens. If I’d have gone, my serenity would have been shattered by screaming meamies.
Then at my overnight stop in Deming, N.M., I found my two favorite restaurants were closed, so I ate at one of the few that was open, and loved their Enchiladas supreme! The next morning I got my propane tanks filled that power my refrigerator and stove for a good price. I felt good. I headed for the gorgeous scenery of Wonder Rocks (Sunny Flats camp ground in Coronado National Forest in the Chiricahua Mountains) and it was “Game On.” I had a relaxing couple of days amongst the towering peaks, took several easy trails and let my mind regroup. There’re lots of steep trails to the overlooks. I left them for someone else. I know an easy one where I see all I want. This is also a birders delight. I’ve never seen the bird in the photo with the red top knot and it’s not in my bird book. I think it’s from the Arctic!
I knew I had too many places to visit to fit in between mid March and Ocean City’s Spring Fest and Fager’s Island’s first deck party. I also knew I wanted no parts of another grueling driving day, so I charted a course leaving out Las Vegas (the buffets and betting the NCAA March Madness Basketball Games that have been a mainstay for years), the Grand Canyon, and all of those places north of it that will have to wait til another year. I set my sights on a Sequoia Tree that topped my list. Afterwards I’d head east by a southerly route, and I assured myself that all days would have no more than 200-300 miles of driving. My finale will be several days on Ocracoke Island, N.C., by way of the ferry from the south, which will take several hours. Of course I allocated at least five days for Big Bend, also a couple days in the Smokey Mountains and stopping at places where I know the food is good.
Then I took the mountain road west out of Sunny Flats starting early in the morning after photographing the Cathedral, the big solitary rock in my photos. From there I could see the bowl-like mountains that I spent the last two days in. This was certainly one of my NoWhereLands roads, so rough I averaged less than ten miles per hour for the twenty some miles up and down the 6-7,000 mile peaks. There were so many vistas of the desert below, but all were to the east into the sun. I’ll have to do that drive again in the evening, when the sun will be coming from the other direction and giving me good photographic light. I did take a bunch of photos of the winding road down through the Chiricahua Mountains.
I got back to US Interstate 10 at the little town of Wilcox. I may have to stop there some day as I headed for Arivaca, a little town south of Tucson, Az., where the hippies went in the seventies and never left. I was back on my game!!!
Bob R o.c.FotoGuy
articles @ Coconuttimes.com
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