Friday, November 04, 2011


In the middle of nowhere really describes this part of Texas.  Getting here requires driving about 100 miles south of US Highway 90 and once here you're up against Mexico and can't go any further.  What it lacks in civilization is made up in its beauty and remoteness.  We stayed in the National Park campground at Rio Grande Village, not really a village, but a small store and gas station along with a ranger station and housing for some of the national park staff.  The Rio Grande is not really very Garnde at this time of the year.  You would have trouble floating down it in a inner tube it is so shallow in places, but in the spring local outfitters run river trips through some of the deep canyons created by the river. 


On a hike we took we came across this Ammonite right in the middle of the trail.  Because it's part of a much larger boulder it's still there and not in someones yard.


We also took a hike in the Chiso Mountains up Lost Mine Trail.  Legend has it that Spanish explorers found a vein of silver around here and enslaved local people to mine it.  According to the legend, the workers eventually rebelled, killed their enslavers, then sealed the mine entrance to prevent further exploitation.  We didn't find it, so the legend remains intact.  The view at the end of the trail, although spectacular, we marred by the constant haze that is usually present in Big Bend.  It's really smog from cities in the east.

Just west of the Park is what's left of the mining town of  Terlingua.   People still live here, but mostly it's been abandoned.  In it's heyday in the early 1900's Terlingua had a population of over 2000, but today there is less than 300.  That is except on the weekend we were there when the population reached upwards of 10,000 chiliheads.  Each year on the first weekend in November, the Chili Appreciation Society International holds its annual  Terlingua International Chili Championship.  Not only do they have chili cookoff, but also BBQ competitions.  We figured to go and see what's up, but when we drove up to the entrance they wanted $30 each for the privilege of entering into the contest grounds.  I asked what we do we get for $30?  We were to we can walk around the grounds and watch all the crazies and drunks.  We don't get to sample any of the chili or BBQ, but if we like we can buy food and drink at an exorbitant cost.  We knew the thing about the drunks was true because just outside the entrance to the cookoff grounds on the state highway, the Texas State Troopers had set up sobriety check points in both directions.  We decided to pass.

The Terlingua Trading Company was known as the Chisos Mining Company Store and sold everything from food to farm equipment and prom dresses to cars.  It housed the mine offices, Post Office and the only telephone.  It is still one of the largest adobe building in Texas.

The Perry School, named after the mine owner, was the largest of 3 schools in the region.  Started as a tent with one teacher and grew to a 5 room building with 4 teachers, a principal and 80 children.



Tomorrow we continue our exploration of Big Bend Country before heading north for a stop in the Davis Mountains.  From there we will head home after being on the road for 3 months.  To be continued........

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