Day 176 – 2/22/21 Big Bend National Park (day 1)

We had an awesome day at Big Bend National Park.

Well, we are in Terlingua, TX to visit Big Bend National Park.  It was a bit colder overnight as I didn’t turn on the furnace, but the low was 41F, so not that bad.  As I’m looking outside, we are in a mud pit :). I see a xmas tree, lots of sand \ mud, some trailers, some old cars, etc it’s an interesting view, weird, but kind of cool when you see a trailer parked way up on top of the mountain behind it all.  The wifi here is not great, but it’s ok, so we’ll see if we get the girls at least started with school today, but then leave as early as possible to hit the park.  Big Bend is a big park, so we’ll need all the time we can have there.

I got Bia up around 7:40am since we are now in Central time and there is no time zone difference with home, so she can wake up right before her class goes live.  She got up and going right away, and the internet held up pretty good for the first two hours.

I got Bella up around 8:30, and got her things printed, and her computer connected.  She was not really moving with school stuff much.  She worked on a few things, logged in for her ELA, but by time she got going, the internet was down.  With the girls not able to do live class, we decided we should just leave for the park, so we had them get ready to go and continue doing what work they could while Carol and I finished getting our things ready for the park.

I ended up sleeping a bit longer than I wanted to, so I didn’t get to catch up on writing as much as I wanted.  I was able to finish a day from almost a week ago, and got some of the main points from the day before.  I then had a call, which I tried to join, but it was around when the internet connection kept dropping, so while I would go back in, it was hard to participate properly.  I’m glad I had given a heads up to my business partners so they kept it rolling.  When my call was done, I just wrapped up what I was doing on the computer and moved on to get us out to the park.

Carol woke up and started getting things ready to take with us, she did the dishes from the day before and breakfast, packed food, etc.  We made sure everyone had their stuff ready, I asked the girls to get an extra pair of pants in case it got cold later as they were wearing shorts, and we got going.  It was around 10:30am when we left the campground.

I put in the GPS the Santa Helena Canyon Trail as our destination since that was supposed to be the highlight of our day, and to get there, we drive through the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, and many lookouts and smaller trails.  Our time to the end was one hour and fifteen minutes, but that’s not what we did since we stopped a few times on the way.  We got to the park pretty quick as we are very close to the entrance, there is some construction at the park, so we had to stop a few times and wait to go on the one way roads. 

The views of the park, the entire time, are amazing.  I think this is the park with the most amount of mountains, rocks, peaks, etc.  Just everywhere you look there is another formation.  The most impressive at that area is the Chisos Mountains, but it all looked quite amazing.  We had excellent weather as well, completely clear skies, and 60-70s. 

Again, the views are just amazing with the desert planes and then mountain ranges all around.  We took our time driving, and made a few stops by overlooks for pictures.  We stopped in one place to take pictures of the twin peaks they call something “burro ears”, and I got a nice picture of Carol there :). 

We stopped at another that had a canyon right there by the road, and stopped at some that had great views of the desert and mountains, and the Rio Grande area. 

We got to the Santa Helena Canyon Trail a bit after noon.  That right there is definitely the most amazing area we saw.  It is this huge mountain, solid rock, that has a cut in the middle of it which is the canyon, where the Rio Grande crosses.  One side of the mountain is on the Mexico side (left), and the other is on the US side (right).  The mountain is pretty high, which makes the canyon absolutely impressive, magnificent.  We were all in awe just looking at the view of the canyon, wow!

We ate something before heading towards the trail.  I had a sandwich and Carol and the girls ate some apples, some bread and turkey and cheese, and a few smaller things Carol had packed.  Then we left, made a quick stop at the restrooms, and hit the trail.  Two signs caught our attention as we approached the trail.  One about the fact that this area is home to bears and mountain lions, which I was sure we would not see today. The other was about extreme heat, and that people should plan on being out of the trail by 10am.  I’m guessing that one is for summer months, as it was just fine today.  The trail starts going through some tall grass, and then opens up and we have a clear view of the Rio Grande and the Canyon.  Wow again! 

We walked around by the river for a bit, took some pics from that angle, and headed towards the trail.  The trail is not difficult, but the first 10-15 minutes you are going up hill and it is a bit steep, so if you’re out of shape, this could be a challenge.  We saw a few folks not make it, and an obese lady tried and could not get passed the first two switchbacks.  The trail goes up, and then it goes down and you walk next to the river until the end of the trail, which is where it meets a big rock.  By that point, you are in the middle of the canyon with amazing views everywhere. 

We had our hiking shoes on, which are waterproof, so I walked around the shallow water a bit, and got some nice pics.  I saw a guy take off his shoes and walk to the middle of the river and the water was by his ankles, so I decided to take a stroll on the river, and go upstream a bit more.  I took my shoes off, Carol complained and warned me that I would have wet dirty feet later, hahahaha… but I continued and went in.  The water was pretty cold, and by time I got to the sand bank on the other side, which is the Mexican side, my feet were freezing. 

The deepest point of the cross was just under my knee caps, so not bad at all.  Soon I heard the girls calling me and telling me to wait because they wanted to come with me.  While I waited for them, I took some pictures, and took a pic of me touching the Mexican side of the canyon hahahaha, which I repeated later with the girls. 

Carol gave the girls the same warning, and stayed behind with our stuff.  It was fun to watch the girls come by me.  Bella, who’s usually the bravest (unless it’s roller coasters, then it’s Bia) was following her big sister, and actually holding her hand at times.  They were not sure if it was too deep, so they’d stop once in a while until they heard me tell them it’d be to their knees at most, so they continued and got to me. 

The bottom of the river is sandy most of the time, but some areas have a lot of small rocks, lots… and a few places had some branches and roots in the water.  The branches and roots made it a bit harder to walk as kicking one of those was not fun, so we had to go slow and feel our next step before taking it.  The girls and I walked a bit further into the canyon, stopping at a few sand banks, then continuing.  We went as far as we could but got to a point that the rocks and sticks were a bit harder to pass and Bia wanted to go back.  It was super fun though to be walking upstream the Rio Grande, inside the Santa Helena Canyon, and right in between Mexico and the US.  We enjoyed our walk back, had some laughs and the girls were saying they both loved doing this. 

When we got back by Carol, we put our shoes back on, which was a bit challenging with wet feet, but I helped the girls and we all did it.  Then, Carol had dropped her camera cover into a crack between some rocks, and the crack was big enough for Bella to fit through, but not an adult, so Bella agreed to go there and get it.  I put my legs in the crack so Bella could use as support, and she went down, pushing the bushes and bamboo sticks with her feet, little by little, and she got to the cover.  Woohoo.. she’s awesome. 

Then we walked back to the car.  That was a very cool experience.  Our next stop was Chisos Mountains.  We had a bit of a drive to get there, but it was good to get everyone a little rest.  The plan was to get up there, find some treat for the girls, and hit the trail.  There’s a restaurant up there and we thought about maybe getting a snack and a treat, but the restaurant was closed.  At that point I told Carol our trail was not happening as I didn’t think we’d get the girls there without a treat, so we drove around looking for a good viewpoint for some pictures, and Carol saw a little store open by the visitor center area, which just happened to have candy, ice cream and even beer… I mean, treats for everyone! ahahahaha…. Bia got an ice cream and Bella got a bag of gummy bears.  Carol got a six pack of beer, seriously, she did!  I had a beer while Bia had her ice cream, and then we left for the trail. 

The trail there is called window trail, because it gives you a window between the mountain peaks with a pretty awesome view.  We walked just about a mile down, and that was enough, we had a great time.  The girls were walking next to each other and chatting happily the entire time.  Bella shared some of her dummies with Bia, they were awesome.  What a treat! :). It was a really nice walk and a nice time, I love listening to them chatting.  And that was the last activity for the day, so we headed back from there.

As we got back to town, it was a bit late so we decided to try to get food in town.  Carol picked a place in the downtown “ghost town”, but when we drove by, it was packed, with a line outside.  So, we drove back out a bit and ended up at the High Sierra restaurant and bar.  The place has a very western movie feel to it, also small town Mexico from the movies at least.  Rustic.  The food was decent, service was ok, but… there was a guy going from table to table without a mask, which made a few people uncomfortable, and then a stray dog was running around.  Crazy Wild West stuff.  At least the food was not too expensive there.

From there we went back, did our normal routine, showers, etc.  Carol and the girls ended up working on the puzzle for a while, and stayed up much longer than they should.  I was the last to shower, and discovered this arm pit itch that was bothering me a bit today was a rash, or at least turned into one.  Not sure what caused it, but it itched a bit during the day, and more as the day went by.  By time I went to shower I decided to look and dang… a big red rash.  Maybe something I ate, or something in the clothing, or just heat… not sure.  I put some Benadryl so it’ll stop itching and will take care of it from here.  (Edit from later: this turned out to be an allergic reaction to my deodorant). And that was the end of our day.

We had a great day at Big Bend National Park today, awesome hike in the Santa Helena Canyon, walking in the Rio Grande and then Chisos Mountains.

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