Big Bend State and National Parks (March 2019)

Jen's Account of the day: March 30th

The day started in Dallas; windy, drizzly, and cold. The rain let up around Abeline, but the wind didnít, causing the sand plants around Odessa to lend the whole area a post-apocalyptic vibe. Midland looks like suburban Houston in the desert. The drive didnít really start getting scenic until we got south of I-10.

We arrived at our cabin, or what we thought was our cabin, right around 4 PM. We immediately noticed a problem: other peoplesí stuff was still there. We had no cell service, so we used the land line inside to call the rental company. Apparently I had screwed up the reservation and made it for the 31st through the 4th, not the 30th through the 4th. They recommended we try the hotel in Study Butte (yes, that place we took the Crown Vic when it got vapor lock the last time we were here), so off we went. Hopefully the current tenants never realized our intrusion.

Fortunately, getting a room in Study Butte wasnít a problem. Since Iíd inexplicably insisted we get up at 6 AM to leave it was still quite early, though I donít think the motel ever filled up. It was shabby but clean and acceptably comfortable.

Since there was a few hours of daylight left we decided to head down to Santa Elena Canyon. This took us down the old gravel road we used to limp the CV back into town. I donít think we encountered anyone on it that day, but we found several cars leaving the canyon that way this afternoon.

We were worried about having enough time to cook with daylight fading and the charcoal grill being a bit of a production, so Matt went ahead and hiked down to the river while I attempted to start a fire. It didnít go well. It was so windy I could barely keep the lighter lit, let alone the coals. I was afraid that, even if I was able to use enough kindling to get it lit that it was too dangerous, so I aborted the plan. Turned out one of the big water bladders weíd brought had started leaking, so we had a cargo tray full of water and some damp stuff. Fortunately, I the tray has a high rim and I was able to just dump the water out without getting too much in the car.

I managed to follow Matt down the trail just in time to miss him, since he took a different path. Eventually he sneezed and I found him. We headed back to Study Butte the way we came somewhat recklessly fast. (I probably shouldnít have let Matt drive.) We named my car Hildegard. It was a good day.

After a brief stop at our room to clean up a little, we went out to eat. We wound up at the El Kiva Bar and Grill which had live music and good pizza. The place itself had been largely carved underground and was walled with huge boulders. They were having a small arts and crafts show on the large terrace out back. I saw some pieces I liked, maybe we will pay the studio in Study Butte a visit before we go.

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Day 2 of the Trip