Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big Bend National Park and Benson, AZ

Today, December 23rd, we went to Big Bend National Park via the west entrance. Big Bend is over 800,000 acres which makes it one of the largest and from what we heard one of the least visited.

This is some of the scenery as we drove to our first stop in what they call Chisos Basin.

The road into Chisos Basin is not recommended for motorhomes over 24 feet because of the tight/twisty corners.

This is a basin area surrounded by mountains. It was used by the local Indians as a hiding area from marauding Indians and Banditos. Here is a picture of what is called “Window View” from inside the Basin.

After we had lunch at a restaurant in the Basin we headed to the southwest corner of the park to view the Santa Elena Canyon. These next two picture are from our drive to that area.

This sign is actually down by the canyon but I put it first as the next few pictures are of our approach to the canyon and of the canyon itself.

Normally you can walk about a mile up the canyon, but because of the spring floods the trail was closed.

These are pictures of the parking area at the canyon. The dirt in front of my truck is not piled up. It is actually that deep from a flood they had this spring. The water was 33 feet higher than normal. At times while we we walking around the winds would whip through the canyon and stir up all the loose sand.

When leaving the canyon we had a choice of taking the same road back or this road which is described on the map as an "unpaved road". After being on this road, Sandy declined when I mentioned driving on the road marked as “primitive” on the map. But for you 4 wheel buffs, there is a primitive road that follows the river for about 50 miles.

We spent our second day in the park by entering at the north entrance, but before we got to the park we took a side trip to visit the Hallie’s Hall of Fame Museum. This is a quaint museum of a local rancher’s wife, (Hallie Stillwell, 1897-1997) and is well worth the time. One of the stories we heard was that when her husband and cow hands were out with the cattle she normally had to go along because of the dangerous banditos that were in the area, one of whom was Poncho Villa.

The only hitch is that to get into the museum you have to go to the Stillwell Store and they will give you the keys and tell you where the light switch is. The keys are on a board like some of the old gas stations used to have. They tell you to turn off the lights and lock it up again when you leave.

After arriving at the park we drove to Rio Grande Village and the Boquillas Canyon in the southeast corner of the park. The following pictures are of the Rio Grande River and the canyon.

Looking to the west.

Looking to the east.

While leaving the park I thought it would be a good time to take a picture showing that I occasionally wear something other than a “Back to the Fifties” T-shirt.

Today is Christmas Day and we did some chores around the motorhome.I washed the pickup in the morning then worked on the See-Level gauges. It looked like something chewed the 12 volt wire to the gauges, so I repaired them but the gauges still do not operate correctly. So when I get a chance I will have to call the service tech and see if we can figure out the problem. Sandy washed clothes and cleaned the inside of the coach. Then at 2:00 the campground had a Christmas dinner where they furnished turkey, ham, potatoes and gravy, the guest brought side dishes. It was a good dinner and we had a chance to meet some of our fellow campers.

Our last night in Texas gave us a great sunset view from the back of the RV Park.

We left Alpine on the 26th and headed west. Our route started out by taking US90out of town.

Along the way we came across one of the tethered blimps that the government uses for watching the border.

When we got to Van Horn, TX we made an executive decision and decided to drive an extra 40 miles by driving north on Texas 54 and then west on US 62/180 to El Paso rather than taking I-10. I still like the smaller highways as opposed to the interstate if we are not in a hurry. In Van Horn the temperature was 64 degrees and windy. Just north of the TX 54 and US 62/180 is Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet.

From El Paso to the time we stopped in Lordsburg, NM we had winds of up to 45 MPH and the temperature dropped to 36 degrees with sleet.

The next morning, Saturday the 27th, when we awoke in the morning when there was a light coating of sleet/snow on the ground and a temperature of 17 degrees. We have a friend who follows the Blog who had recently sent us an e-mail telling us to cease and desist on sending depressing pictures of warmth and sunshine, so here is what we occasionally have to live with even in southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

That was a heck of a cold front that just crossed the country. We have several friends who are leaving the “NORTH” about this time and hope they are all safe in their travels south.

Today we drove over to Benson AZ to stay three nights and visit with friends, Steve and Sandy, whom we had met in Red Bay last March. It’s nice to be able to cross paths with people you have met along the way. I guess you could say it’s almost like a loose knit family.

Here are a couple of pictures traveling from Lordsburg to Benson.

On Sunday we got a late start in our sightseeing, but we took a quick trip down to Bisbee, AZ to see the Queen Copper mine. There was mining activity in the area from 1877 to 1977 and during that time they took over 8 billion pounds of copper plus gold, silver, lead and zinc. The mine is now owned by a foreign entity and future mining might be an option because with modern technology they can be profitable extracting the minerals from lower grade ores.

Here are some pictures of how the mines can still extract a profit without having to dig in the earth. Here is one of the modern day miners, who is also their cash machine.

Here we are heading 1500 feet in to the mountain.

This is a pneumatic drill used for drilling the holes to insert sticks of dynamite.

Here is the mine’s version of the ole two-holer. This miner says she will wait until we get back to the surface.

When we got back to the campgrounds we went to supper with Steve, Sandy and their friends Bill and Kay. It was a special occasion for Steve and Sandy as it was their 40th wedding anniversary.

On Monday the 29th I worked on the See-level system and called the factory. They are going to send a new display and a new sensor for me to try.

Sandy and Steve invited us over for supper and we got to reminiscing about the time we had spent at Red Bay and the time we went to eat at the Cafe Memories in Iuka, MS. The following picture is for our friends Chuck, Lorraine, Richard and Patsy. For the rest, you would have to look back at the April 2, 2008 post to kind of get a idea of the fun we were having that night. Of course it was all at Steve's expense, but he took it well.

After we got loaded up with the help of Steve,it was off to Cave Creek (Phoenix) to visit our friends Ron and Jane.

We got in around 3:00 and had a few issues. The first one was that the transfer case on the pickup would not come out of neutral again. Then when we went to level the motorhome the right rear jack won’t extend. While working on that, we ended with a worse situation as the RR will not extend and now the LR will not retract. Guess I’ll have some work to do tomorrow. Some good news, the pickup finally went into gear after trying again later in the day. We went over to Ron and Jane’s to visit and go out to supper.

This is our new home for the next few weeks.

Bye for now
Dave and Sandy

1 comment:

Richard and Patsy King said...


Got a chuckle from the picture of Steve!

Patsy and I are heading toward Q starting on Jan 9, with Mark and Sue and another Tiffen owner, Connie and Manuel.

We plan to be in Las Cruces on Jan 11, and then spend a day or two at a PA park (Tombstone Territories Campground) at Huachuca City, near Benson on Jan 12 and 13. We may walk across into Mexico at Nogales.

We will probably be at our favorite site (near the big tent) on BLM land in Quartzsite by Jan 14.

If our paths cross, give us a call or email.