Saturday, November 6, 2010
Due to a late evening on Friday, I slept very late on Saturday morning. Ok Hwa was up early, as usual, and had breakfast ready for me when I rolled out.
We stayed at the Chili Cook-Off all day, which is unusual for us. The final judging for all the chili entries takes place on Saturday. All entries must be turned in by noon. P.A. announcements from the stage were read at short intervals throughout the afternoon. They helped keep all the campers updated on what was going on in the judging area. Mark and Barbara were judges again this year, so they spent a good amount of time walking between our camp on the hill and the judging shed. Sometime during the afternoon they hiked over to the Ghost Town, about two miles away. They caught a ride back with someone a little later.
As afternoon turned into evening, we were looking forward to the evening's entertainment: Mike Blakely with Thomas Michael Riley, followed by Pinche Gringos. The Pinche Gringos are a local band from Terlingua. They are one of the best live bands we've seen, and we were really looking forward to their set. They are a crowd favorite. We listened to Mike and Thomas from our campsite on the hill, then walked down to the stage at the judging shed for the Gringos set. I made a couple of videos of them, then put the camera away to enjoy the show and dance. What fun! Here are the videos:
PINCHE GRINGOS Mexican Cumbia
PINCHE GRINGOS "Treat Her Right"
Official website of the Chili Cook-Off: Click Here
Official website of Terlingua Ghost Town: Click Here
Pinche Gringos: Click Here
Mike Blakely: Click Here
Thomas Michael Riley: Click Here
Thursday, December 9, 2010
It's becoming a tradition with our little camping party to take a nice, long hike in Big Bend Park on the Friday of the Chili Cook-Off.
Most of our group were there at our Margarita Hill campsite by Thursday evening. Ok Hwa and I, Steve and Kristy, Mark and Barbara, and Jack and Teresa had all arrived by Thursday, and we were expecting Mike and Maria sometime Friday. On Friday morning we got together and decided on a hike. Last year it was a guys only hike/climb to the top of Casa Grande mountain. That was a tough, but rewarding day. This year it was co-ed, so we decided not to climb any mountains. A couple of us suggested the Pine Canyon trail. It was agreed, and we loaded up in the Bronco and headed out. Along for the hike were Mark, Barbara, Jack, Ok Hwa, and myself. Steve and Kristy were going to drive into Alpine for the day. Teresa had injured herself riding my little motorcycle earlier in the day, so she was grounded with a severely sprained ankle.
Pine Canyon is on the east side of the Chisos Mountains. From Panther Junction Park Headquarters, you travel southeast on the main park road approximately six miles to the Glenn Springs road. This is an unpaved, back country road for high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles. Down the Glenn Springs road about two miles is where the Pine Canyon Road cuts off to the right, and heads around Nugent Mountain, and up into Pine Canyon. It's another two miles or so up to the end of the road at the trailhead.
We piled out of the Bronco at the trailhead, and got on our backpacks and checked our water bottles. Mark is the alpha male in our group, and by far the strongest hiker. He and Jack started off in the lead, with Barbara following, and Ok Hwa and me in the rear. I knew Ok Hwa would slow me down, but I was resigned to keeping at her slow pace. After about a quarter mile, she decided it was too much for her, and went back down to wait for us at the car. She would busy herself taking nature pictures 'til we got back. So, freed from her slow pace, I tried to catch up with the others.
From the "Hikers Guide to Trails of Big Bend National Park" published by Big Bend Natural History Association, here is the following description of Pine Canyon Trail: "Medium difficulty. 4.0 miles round trip. The trail begins in sotol grasslands at the end of the Pine Canyon primitive road. Check with ranger about road conditions before you go. The trail climbs up through open desert grasslands for a mile before entering the canyon. Once in Pine Canyon, the trail winds through a heavily wooded section where Mexican pinyon pine, junipers, and oaks are common. Further ahead you will find ponderosa pine, Texas madrone, bigtooth maple, and Emory and Graves oaks. The trail ends at the base of a 200-foot cliff that becomes a delightful waterfall after heavy rainstorms. Longspur columbines grow under tall oak and maple trees near the base of the intermittent waterfall."
I caught up with Barbara about at the place where it turns from grassland into wooded canyon. We hiked along together, stopping occasionally to take pictures. I had also been making small video segments along the way. We knew we'd never catch up to Mark and Jack, so we didn't even try. The wooded section through the canyon was so beautiful and cool. What a welcome relief from the bright sun out in the desert. We were amazed at how cool it was up among the trees, probably a twenty degree difference from out in the sun.
At last we caught up to Mark and Jack. They were waiting for us at the end of the trail. We all thought it would be a very nice place to camp there at the base of the cliff. As long as it did not rain.
When we arrived back at our camp at the Chili Cook-Off, Mike and Maria had arrived. That completed our group. That night we enjoyed a beautiful night under the stars listening to the music of Mark David Manders, and the King Bucks.
Official site of Big Bend National Park: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm
Official site of the Chili Cook-Off: http://www.abowlofred.com/
Mark David Manders: http://www.markdavidmanders.com/
The King Bucks: http://www.thekingbucks.com/Site/Home.html
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The road to Terlingua is long, no matter where you're coming from. Even from the nearest city, Alpine TX, it is eighty miles. From my house it's just under six hundred miles. That's a day's (or night's) work.
After working all night, I got off work Wednesday, November 4 at 11:00 in the morning. I came home, showered, and went to bed for some much needed sleep. I got up at 7:00 PM and we set about loading up the Bronco and the trailer. I wanted to take the little bike, the Yamaha TW 200, so it went on the trailer first. Then we loaded all our camping gear around it, and the rest we crammed into the back of the Bronco.
We finally pulled out at 11:30 PM. It's freeway for the first four hundred miles or so. We take I-30 west through downtown Dallas, and just west of Fort Worth we get on I-20 for the long ride out to Monahans. There we turn off of the freeway onto Texas state route 18. About seven miles south of town we take the "Coyanosa Cut-Off" as we call it, Farm Road 1776. This shoots straight south, bypassing Fort Stockton, all the way down to US 90, a distance of about one hundred miles. At I-10 this road turns into US 67, but there are no turns. The sun came up on us along this stretch, dawn breaking on Thursday, November 5. From the US 90 junction it's about five miles west into the town of Alpine, Texas.
At Alpine we stopped for a much needed break, and to do some shopping. Porter's Thriftway is the grocery store in Alpine where we stock up on food and beverages for the week. After that we had a thirty minute wait at Twin Peaks Liquors "Best Price And Selection West Of The Pecos". It was 9:30, and they didn't open up 'til 10:00.
Grocery and liquored up, we hopped back in the Bronco for the final eighty miles south to Terlingua. The first twenty miles south of Alpine, along Texas state route 118, is some of the prettiest country anywhere. The rolling hills and mountains there are just perfect. There are a number of ranches and small homesteads along through there, but not much to spoil the scenery. After this section the road droops down, levels out and shoots across the flat desert another fifty miles or so, 'til it comes to the mountains, and the steep mountain pass leading down into Study Butte. There is a "T" intersection there, the junction of Texas state highways 118 and 170. 118 continues on south another five miles or so, to Big Bend National Park. 170 cuts off to the west, and it's only four miles over to Terlingua, seventeen miles from there over to Lajitas, and fifty miles from there along the "River Road" to Presidio, Texas. This stretch of highway, from Lajitas to Presidio, Texas is one of the most spectacularly beautiful highways anywhere. Steep hills, sharp curves, desert, mountains, canyons, the Rio Grande River with Mexico on the far shore, all add up to make this an amazing ride.
Our destination was Terlingua, though, so we didn't travel the River Road over to Presidio. The grounds of the Terlingua Chili Cook-Off are about half way between Study Butte and Terlingua, just off the road behind the Terlingua Store. We pulled in, paid our admission and began setting up camp. This would be home for the next eight days.
The Official Website of the Terlingua Chili Cook-Off: www.abowlofred.com
The Official Website of Terlingua Ghost Town: www.ghosttowntexas.com
The Official Website of Big Bend National Park: www.nps.gov/bibe/