May 12, 2022 Study Butte, TX Day 3

It was such a relief to go to sleep last night knowing that there was no severe weather expected. I could finally relax and enjoy my evening. For about 10 minutes in the early morning hours, the wind picked up and blew hard shaking the motorhome a little. Of course, I woke up and just lay there listening until it subsided. Bob slept through it all and never heard or felt a thing. We woke up to clear, blue skies and temps in the low 80’s. Bob took advantage of the shade and cooler temps to work on installing the towed vehicle charger that we had ordered, shipped, and picked up at one of the earlier campgrounds that we were at. I took the time to dust the motorhome from top to bottom from the dust storm we had on Tuesday, now referred to as Terrible Tuesday. You would be surprised at how much dust got in. Auggie sat outside in the shade for the first time while Bob worked on the Jeep. It took him about 45 minutes and the job was done.

After we finished our projects, we packed a lunch and left the campground by noon for a visit to Big Bend National Park. This is why we came to this area. Auggie came along with us again today because we worried that if the AC would shut down with an expected high of 103 today, that he would roast in the motorhome. We felt better taking him along. We headed for the park entrance on Highway 118 which was about 5 miles from the campground.

At Maverick Junction there was an entrance station. We stopped, but there was no one there. The note said to proceed to the Park Headquarters which is at Panther Junction. We were not going there today, so we continued on, prepared to show our Lifetime Senior Pass if we needed to.

From there, our plan was to head down Old Maverick Road to Santa Elena Canyon Trail and Overlook where we could see the deep canyon that is formed by the Rio Grande River.

Old Maverick Road would be a shorter distance to the canyon, however, the gravel road is 4-wheel drive accessible (not a problem), BUT it was like a washboard.

We could only travel at 10 mph and the drive was 21 miles long. At that speed, it would take us more than 2 hours just to get there. Since we got a late start, we didn’t think it was a good idea to continue down this road. So after a few miles, we turned around and made alternate plans to take the paved park road to Santa Elena Canyon Trail tomorrow. We got back to the entrance station and turned the other direction to follow the paved road to Chisos Basin. It wasn’t long before Maverick Mountain came into view.

We went about 12 miles when we came upon some road construction. The flag woman made us stop and told us it would be a 15 minute wait. We were the only car waiting, so she came over and chatted with us.

She was Navajo from Albuqueque who came to work on this road construction crew. She was a mother of 3 sons that were all all grown up. She also does home flipping when she’s not doing this, and was well-versed in welding, construction, deconstruction, and remodeling. She seemed to be a “Jill” of all trades. She gave us some advice on where to go and what to see in the park. She told us there were sightings of a mama bear with two cubs and some javelinas, a medium-sized pig, wandering around in the areas we would be traveling to. We would love to see those. One of our goals is to see a live roadrunner. She said they were around everywhere, so we’ll have to keep our eyes open. We found out that they can run 20 mph and eat lizards and small rattlesnakes. It pecks them to death with its beak. She was a wealth of information. This was the cool vehicle they gave her to get around in. She went back to work and we ate our lunch while we waited.

The 15 minutes went by quickly and soon we were on our way. We had been waiting for the pilot car to arrive and then we followed him for quite a few miles to the end of their construction area.

From there, the road took us further and further into the mountains. We went up and up and then over the top to see the canyon on the other side. The area was beautiful and changed with every increase in altitude.

As we climbed in altitude, the landscape changed from cactus and scrub brush to evergreen trees. At 4500 ft. you would find taller trees. At 5200 ft. oaks, junipers, and pine trees appear.

We were reminded of bears in the area by this sign and the bear-proof garbage receptacles we saw along the way.

We got to the top and saw Chisos Basin below us containing the campground, Visitor’s Center, Mountain Lodge, restaurant, and store.

We descended into the basin and stopped at the Visitor’s Center and store.

Bob went into the store and got us an ice cream for the drive back. This cool Jeep was sitting in the parking lot from the Jeep Tours Company.

Right outside the Visitor’s Center was this beautiful sculpture of a peregrine falcon.

After looking around, we drove down to the campground to check it out. From there, we could see through “The Window” and get a great view of the valley below.

The campground had tent and RV sites, but the RV sites were limited to RVs less than 24 feet long.

These 2 sites had sewer and were being used by the rangers.

On our drive back, we saw these interesting rock formations. Bob thought this one looked like George Washington, in profile looking to the right with his nose, and his long hair would be on the left side. What do you think?

I thought this one looked like a face also facing to the right. Can you see it?

The valley spread out before us as we made our way down.

It was easy going until we came to the stopped traffic in the construction zone. We waited 15 minutes or less and were soon on our way.

We stopped at the Cottonwood Grocery Store in Terlingua that seemed to be nicely stocked, with reasonable prices. Bob picked up a bag of ice and we were back in the campground by 3:30. We have an ice maker, but the water in Study Butte is highly mineralized. It is drinkable but we choose not to because of the taste. Instead, we bought bottled water and ice. FedEx arrived with our package at 4:30 so our timing was perfect. We ordered my new camera yesterday and had it shipped overnight express for a ridiculous price of $17. The driver brought it right to our campsite. What service! It’s amazing that the driver came all the way from El Paso to deliver it to us here in the middle of nowhere. Hooray!

I was able to get my old camera to work the last few days with a lot of finesse and gentle prodding. I knew eventually it would stop working altogether and I would be in trouble. It was great to be able to get a new one this easily, exactly like my old one, and early enough in the trip to use it for many more days. More campers had arrived today and a few left this morning. It was 103 degrees when we got back and so we hung out in the AC before dinner. From our window, we saw this group of riders as they went off on a trail ride into the hills around dinnertime. There is a stable nearby.

Bob cooked a steak on the grill and stood in the shade while he cooked. While he was grilling, he spotted a roadrunner as it ran by. He called me out to see it and I was able to get a picture of it before it took off. What fun to see one in person!

After dinner, Auggie and I waited until the sun was going down before we took our walk. It’s amazing how fast it cools off once the heat of the sun is gone. As the sun set, its rays reflected off of the clouds above us and put the mountain behind us in silhouette. It was another beautiful night!

This is a “designated dark sky area”, but it has either been too cloudy or too moony to see many stars. We’re still hoping to get a dark sky before we leave. Tomorrow we’ll get an earlier start to our day to explore more of the national park.

2 thoughts on “May 12, 2022 Study Butte, TX Day 3”


      Thanks Patti. The mountains here are so different than the ones in Colorado, but beautiful just the same. It takes awhile to see the beauty in the browns and tans compared to the green.

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