May 11, 2022 Study Butte, TX Day 2

IT WAS ONE HELL OF A NIGHT! After the scare we had around dinner time with the strong winds and having to pull in two slides during the wind event, we had a fairly calm rest of the evening watching TV and then going to bed. Around 1:00 AM, the winds came through again as strong as ever. We heard the howling and felt the bus move frequently with each gust. After a couple of minutes, we had had enough. We got up and pulled in all 3 slides except for the bedroom slide. That would protect the slide toppers or awnings that go over the slides from tearing and making so much noise. We made sure our ditch bag was near the door and brought Auggie into bed with us. I laid there until 3:30 unable to sleep, feeling nervous, but doing a little praying at the same time. FINALLY, shortly after 3:30 things became eerily quiet. THE WIND HAD STOPPED! I finally was able to fall asleep. Bob wasn’t as rattled about the wind as I was, so I think he got more sleep than I did. We got up around 8:00 and after breakfast, we proceeded to vacuum the floor and any flat surface throughout the bus. They were all covered with a very thin layer of sand/dust which had blown in through the cracks. UNBELIEVABLE! There was even dust inside the Jeep!! Thank goodness it was a new day! The sun was out this morning and the temp was only 84 to start the day. It was hard to believe what went on yesterday! We made our plans for the day and packed a lunch. Bob wanted to be back to the campground by 2:00 in case there were some afternoon storms approaching. We stopped in the office and asked if the weather yesterday was a normal occurrence. Apparently, it’s not uncommon to have afternoon storms like that at this time of year. Won-der-ful! We met another couple in the campsite next to us. They had come back to their bus yesterday when the wind was just starting to blow. They pulled in their slide too during the storm and had a rough night. After chatting with them, we each went our own separate ways to enjoy the day. Auggie, Bob, and I left at 10:00 to take a drive on Highway 170, the Texas Mountain Trail, into the Big Bend Ranch State Park. Auggie lay in his bed comfortably in the backseat with his safety belt on.

It was 6 miles to Terlinqua, the next town that we wanted to check out.

We passed some adobe-looking homes built on the hillsides.

Off in the distance, we noticed these teepees clustered together. They didn’t look authentic. They looked like they might be used for rental housing.

As we neared the city of Terlingua, we were amazed at how many of these old Airstream trailers that were built under these carport structures.

This unusual metal sculpture was some kind of huge insect.

Terlingua is known for its Ghostown.

The Ghostown is actually the ruins of the Chisos Mining Company. This was a real mining town that went bust and the miners walked away leaving their homes behind. The homes were scattered everywhere.

These are decaying buildings and mine shafts. It’s been revitalized with new businesses and lodgings. When the market for the mercury they were mining crashed, everyone walked away. The original Chisos Mining Company is now the Terlingua Trading Company.

It sits right next to the Starlight Theater which is now a restaurant/bar. The old jail now houses the restrooms.

I really liked this old car sitting out front.

In town there was an old cemetery–a real, authentic boot hill cemetery with real dead people. They buried the people under rocks.

This was an interesting town with an interesting history. We left town on the Texas Mountain Trail towards the next town of Lajitas. Lajitas is a small, but active town. It had a busy General Store and a Boardwalk with lots of shops. There was even a country club and spa located there.

Lajitas is near the entrance to the Big Bend Ranch State Park which is where we will spend most of our day.

The road continued through the Christmas Mountains. It was dry and desolate. What looks like sand is really tiny bits of stone and gravel.

Homesteads were scattered here and there. We wondered where they got their water from.

The Christmas and Chisos Mountain ranges came into view off in the distance. The road took us closer and closer to the mountains.

Now and again, we were reminded that the Rio Grande River is nearby because of these flood gauge markers.

At one point, we crossed over a branch of the river, but it was mostly dry.

We finally got a better view of the river which is what we were hoping for.

Bob reminded me that Mexico was just on the other side of the river.

The road paralleled the river fairly closely for miles and we got a view of it now and then. Many parts of it seemed dry.

We started to make our climb into the mountains.

We went up and over the mountains and across the flatlands.

We came upon the Contrabando Movie Set Site.

The movie makers used the Big Bend area as an authentic location for western movies like the Streets of Laredo and Fandango that were filmed nearby.

It is used as a picnic area/rest stop now. You had to use your imagination about filming a movie here.

The scenery got more interesting as we went further into the mountains.

We had to check out the boat ramp access to the river. Maybe we’d get a better view of the river from there. Check out the fine for crossing the border.

We drove all the way down to the water, but still didn’t have a good view of the river.

This area had cool sandstone hoodoos created by nature.

Our next stop was this cool Teepee Rest Stop. We decided to eat our lunch there and let Auggie stretch his legs.

We climbed the “Big Hill” as it was called on the map and it was a steep climb. As we climbed to the top, we couldn’t see the other side going down until we got to the very top. It was kind of freaky. We could look ahead to see where we were going though.

Of course, what goes up must come down, but what we saw from the top was amazing! Finally, we got a better view of the Rio Grande.

We took this side road to the La Cuesta River Access for 4-wheel drive vehicles.

At the bottom, we could see the river. There were some nice tent campsites set up there with clean restrooms, but who in their right mind would camp in a tent in this heat?

That was the farthest we went on our drive on the Texas Mountain Trail today. On the way back, we stopped to see if we could spot any bighorn sheep. We looked with the binoculars, but had no luck.

We met up with these two bikers at one of the overlooks. They were both from Texas and we had a nice chat with them.

From this overlook, we could see more of the river.

The view was awesome in both directions.

We saw one of these goofy signs to watch out for bikers on this road. Really?

The ride back was just as scenic.

We got back to the campground about 1:30. There was no threatening weather on the radar, so the coast was clear for the time being. I laid down and took a short nap. We just hung out for the rest of the afternoon with an eye to the sky. The temp was 101, but there was a good breeze. We saw some dark storm clouds pass to the northeast and saw some lightning, but nothing came near to us. I kept my ditch bag nearby in case I might need it again and was worried we might get another storm in the middle of the night. Those are the worst. After dinner, we got a little badly needed rain. It rained a couple of times when a dark cloud passed over, but it didn’t last long. I took Auggie for his evening walk when the rain passed. The sun was still hot at 6:30. This campground is nestled in behind this mountain. We have a beautiful view even though the campground is one giant dust bowl.

We watched some TV and waited for the sun to go down. It was a beauty of a sunset tonight!

As bad as last evening was with the wind and the threat of severe storms lurking around, tonight was the opposite. We had a beautiful sunset, the temp had cooled off, and the wind was calm. It was perfect!! As darkness was falling, I looked outside to see this cloud dropping some rain nearby. It didn’t look like it was even reaching the ground, but it was a pretty sight.

We’ll sleep much better tonight after a great day of exploring. We plan on doing more exploring in Big Bend National Park tomorrow.

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