Here is the final tally on our Rio Grande River Tour:
- Departed October 27, 2008
- Returned November 12, 2008
- Kerrville-Schreiner Park
- Seminole Canyon State Park
- Big Bend National Park
- Kerrville KOA
- Inks Lake State Park
- Miles Driven: 1.424
- Longest Drive: 396 miles from Big Bend to Kerrville
- Shortest Drive: 93 miles from Kerrville to Inks Lake
Number of Flat Tires: 0
It seems appropriate that we should pay only $1.99 for gas on our last fill-up of the trip and probably our last trip of 2008.
Today is our last day on the road. Inks Lake isn’t technically on the Rio Grande it is on the Colorado River (not that Colorado – the Colorado River that is in Texas.) We have been pretty much rained-in for the last three days. This afternoon the weather cleared up long enough for us to walk up to Devil’s Sink Hole. People swim here when the weather is warm. Today, we didn’t see any bathers, just some wildlife.
We are spending our last few days before heading home to start the busy holiday season at Inks Lake State Park near Burnet, TX in the Hill Country. We haven’t even gotten the camera out although we did take a little stroll around the Lake yesterday. I’m posting the picture from the State Park website. We will have to come back some time when the bluebonnets are in bloom.
We have not done any hiking. The weather has been a bit rainy. Last night and early this morning it stormed pretty bad. I have been doing some sewing and Alan’s been reading. We have Internet access so I’ve been trying to get my Blogs updated. I’ve started a new Quilting Blog. You can find the link in the sidebar. Don’t get too excited – it is pretty rough!
I try not to make Alan stand around and wait for me much when I want to take pictures of the flowers. I’ve even been trying to cut back since I already have so many and I’m sure they are starting to get a little boring and look alike. But, there were several at Big Bend (particularly on Marufa Vega) that I couldn’t resist.
Be sure to check for backdated posts (see Recent Posts on right). I’m still getting caught up!
We left Big Bend National Park today after six nights in Rio Grande Village. As I said, it wasn’t much of a campground – really just a parking lot. We made the most of our time there anyway. We went on five different hikes and explored as much of the Park as we could practically get to in a day. We never did make it to the West side of the Park. It was just too far from the campground. Maybe we will get back someday and check out that part of the Park.
We weren’t sure how far we would get driving today. Our ultimate destination was Inks Lake State Park but we thought it might be a bit much for a one-day drive. Also, I was concerned that the Park might be full for the weekend. Well, it turned out I was right. I think Texans like to camp in the fall when we have nice cool weather and you can justify a campfire. We called Inks Lake and they said they didn’t have any open spots until Sunday. So, we stopped in Kerrville for the night. It was still a pretty long day of driving (so long that Alan even let me drive for part of the way.) We will head to Inks Lake tomorrow after we stock up on supplies.
The funny thing is that we thought we were going to be staying at a different campground in Kerrville. We knew we had been in Kerrville twice before and stayed at two different parks so tonight we headed for the KOA which was convenient to the highway. As we pulled in, we both said “we’ve been here before!” We couldn’t remember exactly when, but the campground host told us it was in February – probably on our way to Falcon Lake in South Texas. I’ll have to check our trip log to be sure. This happened to us once before when were driving to/from Florida (coincidentally, I was driving that time, too and I don’t drive that often.)
The interesting thing about our drive today was how different gas prices were across Texas. There was gas in Big Bend (good thing considering it is about 50 miles to get from the South end of the Park to the main entrance) and they were charging $2.66 a gallon. The first town we got to on the way out was Marathon. They were charging $2.79 a gallon. Not too much farther along near Fort Stockton we saw gas for $2.06 a gallon. When we stopped for gas along I-10 in Junction they wanted $2.89 on one side of the street and $2.79 on the other. We drove a little further into town (less than five miles) and ended up paying $2.45 a gallon. We got to Kerrville and our KOA campground has gas for $2.04 a gallon! Can you believe it? We would have expected the prices in the heart of Big Bend where there isn’t any competition to be the highest but that definitely was not the case!
I have lots of pictures to post from our various hikes around Big Bend. I thought it was a great place and the weather was perfect the whole time. There are big mountains and barren deserts that we explored along with the Rio Grande itself. We even took some interesting drives along dirt roads. If they would only put in a decent campground with hook-ups. The National Parks have a serious problem with this. They will let people in tents camp anywhere but if you want electricity – forget it! If we get a generator in the future that would give us more options, but it is a lot of weight (and fuel) to haul around. We may be able to manage for one night on our batteries but that would be about it. You would get so many more people exploring these great places and it isn’t like there isn’t already electricity in the Park. Sometimes I wonder what the real goal of the National Park Service is . . .
Today we did our last hike in Big Bend. We are planning on leaving tomorrow to start the trek home. Once again, we have gone as far as a river and then turned back towards home. Our last two trips we did the same thing. In Arkansas (aka An iPhone Goes to Arkansas), we went to the Mississippi and on our Sunny Southwest trip we went as far as the Colorado.
We saw a lot of interesting cactus in the Chihauhan Desert that makes up a lot of Big Bend. They weren’t all the traditional paddle variety like you think of normally. This cactus was in the area where we stopped for lunch on this hike:
Mid-morning we headed out on the Marufa Vega trail which doesn’t start very far from our campsite. We decided not to do the entire Marufa Vega hike which is about 14 miles and not well marked. Instead we took a cutoff which put the trip at just under 6 miles. Alan says that means we hiked about 25 miles total during our stay here.
We have had great weather this whole week. Even though we were in the desert today, the temperatures were barely in the 80’s. (The weather has been good to us for another reason – the compressor on the air conditioner/heat pump went out the other night so we only have the fan and furnace. That has not been a problem at all since it is getting into the 30’s at night anyway.)
A lot of this hike was in a wash. That was kind of tough walking since the trail is very gravelly in areas and it’s like walking in sand. We hooked up with part of the Ore Terminal Trail. The Ore Terminal Trail was used to service the towers during operation of a tramway that operated from 1909 to 1919. The six-mile tramway carried a total of ninety ore (zinc, silver and lead) buckets between the mining complex on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande to the terminal on the Texas side.
We stopped for lunch at a high ridge overlooking the Rio Grande. We had come up a pretty steep portion of the trail over a ridge that followed a really cool quartz vein. The vein was at least 12″ wide in some places. The whole place sparkled when the sun hit it.
We aren’t sure where we’ll stay tomorrow night. We are planning on a few nights at Inks Lake before we get home but we’ll have to stop somewhere before then.
On our way back to the car after completing the Window Trail Hike, I spotted this Road Runner just sunning himself on a rock. I took about a hundred photos while taking one step at a time closer. Alan finally gave up waiting for me and walked up the road and took a seat on a rock in the shade.
We’ve seen Agave (Century) plants with the remnants of their bloom before but the flowering stems grow incredibly large in the Chisos Basin. This one had to be at least 15 feet tall. We spotted one that was still partially in bloom, but I think they are more interesting once the bloom has dried.
I’ve been seeing these wildflowers on a lot of the trails, but they were usually in the shade or had already gone to seed. This was the first bunch I could get a decent photo of but it took me stepping into a cactus plant to pull it off! Unfortunately, even with the suffering I didn’t get that one great picture. I couldn’t decide which of these I liked better.