Texas! Marfa on Christmas Day and Big Bend

Texas! Marfa on Christmas Day and Big Bend

We’ve arrived in Texas!

My friend in Cloudcroft, NM suggested I check out the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It’s not far from Carlsbad, so I made my way there for a camp-over. I wish I’d stayed to hike in those rugged mountains, because they really are impressive. I arrived there on a lovely and temperate Christmas eve but was too tired to explore. The “campground” was simply a large parking lot, with a lower section for tent camping and nice spots for tents nestled in the brush.

A strong wind picked up during the night and got so strong that moving to the lower bed in the camper didn’t help. The whole truck was moving from the huge gusts. At 2am I moved to a different location hoping it would provide some shelter, but it didn’t help. Morning came with winds and a sharp chill. A young woman I met in the restroom who was car camping said that the winds were expected through early evening. I decided to move on instead of waiting it out. A man camped a few spots down from me chatted about my camper. He said that he’d just come from Big Bend. He’d planned to go for two days, and ended up staying two weeks and still hadn’t explored the whole park. It’s really large. He drew me a map of a couple of campsites to check out.

Big Bend requires reservations of all “backcountry” sites and you have to get a $12 permit, pick out your sites, then you can camp. I didn’t actually learn that until the next day.

West Texas sure is windy, but it’s also really beautiful.

I headed to Marfa, Texas, where we spent my mom’s 70th birthday. It’s an interesting town, an old railroad town “discovered” by artist Donald Judd Unfortunately, everything was closed, so I couldn’t even get lunch there. Stupid holidays.

I thought about staying over at the Marfa Mystery Lights, but it was right off the small highway and wasn’t ideal, especially considering the lack of sleep I’d gotten the night before. I wanted quiet. I drove on to Big Bend National Park.

I mind people a lot less than I did on my October trip. Makes sense – the October trip was a break – to get away from work and people and hassle. This trip is purely an exploration. There is more patience and appreciation of the random when time is not so much a constraint. (Well, it is always a constraint. We are mortal, after all)

I sit on a log, with my minty tea and the sundown muted colors breathing the sweet (mesquite?) aroma and listen to the faint dinner-making sounds of my neighbors and a few birds. Temperature today was low 80’s. I wonder what night temps will low?

Pugsly is very photogenic and I take a lot of pictures of her. I will inundate you for a moment.

My 13-year-old comic relief. I love this weird, snarfing doggie.

My first night in Big Bend I am invited to share a very large spot with a retired couple who are car camping. We chat some after dinner. They have had a full outdoor life of caving, river running, hiking, and traveling. I envy their adventures.

It’s Christmas Day and all the Visitor Centers are closed. The nice couple tells me that I need a backcountry pass to camp and if a Ranger comes around I could get a ticket. A ticket? Weird. They will tell any Ranger that they invited me and hopefully I won’t have issue. I planned to go to the office first thing in the morning to get my pass anyway.

3 thoughts on “Texas! Marfa on Christmas Day and Big Bend

  1. You can get a pair of lightweight jack stands for around $25 at car parts stores, discount stores, etc. Place one on each side of the chassis just in front of the rear wheels. Just crank it up to firm – you’re not trying to lift the truck more than half an inch, just take the slack out of the springs. It really cuts down the sway in high winds. You don’t need ones rated to hold the truck up as you are only holding it steady. I don’t use them every night, but always carry them.

  2. Oops! I should have written to place the jack stands under the FRAME not the chassis. I think you would have figured it out, but I wanted to correct my mis-statement. I usually place mine immediately in front of where the leaf springs attach.

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