Return to Big Bend
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In 1993 Beth and I had traded our 1985 Chevy S-10 pick-up for a customized Chevy Van.
On February 17th 2000 we left Bradenton for a two-week vacation to return to Big Bend after a 15-year absence. The Van had 90,708 miles on it. Shortly after turning west on I-10 from I-75 we stopped at the Suwannee River State Park which we had wanted to visit for some time.
We camped that night at the Blackwater River State Park along I-10, just Northeast of Pensacola.
The next morning we continued West on I-10 to Mobile Bay
where we toured the
Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The park included not only the USS
Alabama, but also the submarine USS Drum and static displays both inside and out
of aircraft from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War.
Beth had never been on a Navy ship. The Battleship Alabama was about the same size as the Cruiser USS Canbera that I was stationed aboard when I served in the Navy.
We toured the USS Drum, SS-228 , and the displays inside the pavilion
We left The Memorial Park the afternoon of the 18th (91,265 miles) and continued west on I-10. We bypassed New Orleans on Interstate 12 and camped for the night outside of Lake Charles, Louisiana off I-10 at The Sam Houston Jones State Park.
We left the campsite at dawn (91,605 miles) and drove to
Houston where we took US 290 to Austin, Texas. We spent Saturday night and
Sunday with the Kreigers.
We left Mark and Virginia's (91,937 miles) about 7:00 a.m. following US 290 until it intersected I-10 and drove all day listening to books on audio. We stopped at Ft. Stockton for some last minute supplies, then turned South on US highway 385 arriving at Big Bend National Park in the late afternoon, around 4:00 p.m. Seeing the familiar terrain again was a moving experience for us both. We felt the enchantment of the park all around us. We paid our $10.00 entrance fee and then continued on to the Basin, first stopping at Panther Junction where we made a quick stop to pick up a schedule of ranger talks.
Our old campsite was
occupied and so was the one next to it so we began looking for another spot. The
one we decided on ended up to be #53
which is our old campsite number. They had re-numbered the campsites and added a few more. We had a good view of Casa Grande
and the window.
We attended a ranger talk in the evening. All of the campsites are now provisioned with bear proof metal storage containers secured on a concrete slab.
We learned there is a bear population of about 20-30 that have infiltrated from the Sierra Del Carmen Mountains in Mexico. We didn't see any bears, however.
Very peaceful and beautiful. The weather was great, sunny and warm albeit somewhat windy (as usual). Then we drove to Boquillas Canyon and hiked into the canyon as far as you can go (which isn't very far)
We watched two goats climbing on the rocks and on the bank of the river on the Mexico side. These were probably domestic goats gone wild. We also saw two burros along the bank on the Mexico side.
We ate our lunch there. The wind was blowing hard and the fine sand was blowing in our faces along with the hot wind. After we left the canyon we drove to the parking area for the Hot Springs. Walked to the Hot Springs. Wasn't as big as we had remembered it. (during the day, the tourists owned the hot springs but after dark it belonged to the employees and long term campers. Much cavorting in the nude.) We then stopped at the ranger station and bought a new map of the park. The Ranger Volunteer said the temperature was 90 degrees! We returned to our campsite in the Basin and hiked the Window Trail.