Day Thirty-Two

Trip Start Oct 27, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Saturday, November 27, 2004

After a cold bagel and some water, Zoobley and I headed west once again along Texas Highway 90. The state still seems to go on forever but the West Texas back roads are relatively flat and straight with very little traffic so at eighty miles per hour the one horse towns pass quickly. There are prickly pear and scrub as far as the eye can see.

Our first stop today was Langtry, home of the famous, or maybe infamous, Judge Roy Bean. Self-proclaimed as the first law west of the Pecos, the saloon where he held court, the Jersey Lily, still stands and is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportaion. Bean named the saloon and the town after the object of his infatuation, actress Lilly Langtry.

Next along our route was Sanderson, a pleasant small town that begs the twin questions "Why would anybody build a town out here?" and "What could all these people possibly do to earn a living?". Sanderson bears a striking resemblance to the fictional town of Anarene in the movie The Last Picture Show. I half expected to see Sonny, Duane, and Jacey come down the street at any moment.

If you ever come this way, be sure to fill up before you get to Marathon. According to the locals, some rich dude purchased most of the town a few years back with the intent to turn it into a high dollar resort by renovating the old Gage Hotel and various other businesses. He doesn't appear to have been successful in anything other than jacking up prices. I quickly bypassed the town when I noticed that gasoline was $2.22 per gallon or $0.31 more than I had just paid in Sanderson, thirty miles back.

Finally we made it to Big Bend National Park in the early afternoon. It's hard to think of any superlatives adequate to describe Big Bend other than to say that if I lived there, I probably wouldn't ever leave. The Park itself is over 800,000 acres of desert beauty nestled in a gentle 118 mile curve of the Rio Grande. The masterpiece of the park is the Chisos Mountain Range towering to almost 8,000 feet above the desert floor. Amazingly, everything here appears to be at arms length. Distances of five miles or more, clearly visible, appear no more than a few hundred yards away.

The diversity of flora and fauna is in striking contrast to my conception of what a desert should be. Within a couple of hours of our arrival, we had spotted fox, javalina, road runners, and a family of bobcats not to mention numerous species of small songbirds. We camped at Rio Grande Village, a Park campground complete with store, showers, and a gas station all situated only one-half mile from it's namesake river. A short hiking trail from the Village led to a promontory from which I could watch the sun set over the Chisos Mountains twenty miles to the West and then a short distance further and I was at the banks of the Rio Grande where I got a friendly "Como esta?" from three Mexican men on the opposite shore riding their burros to the store at Boquillas del Carmen.
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