‘Up around the Bend’ as CCR* would say
As part of our road trip through Texas and New Mexico, we wanted to visit Big Bend National Park which nestles along the Mexican border.
*CCR – Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Up Around the Bend” is one of my favourite songs
We had a full day planned around the park, however, to make the most of it we didn’t want to stay too far away, so we chose the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Brewster County.
Now I didn’t really know what to expect of Marathon, but I certainly didn’t realise it was going to be so small, not that it was a bad thing, in fact it made a pleasant change.
However, it felt like we had stepped into a wild west town, with a single line railroad running through the centre and the occasional freight train steaming through, with its characteristic horn wailing.
A chance encounter
We decided to go and explore further back from the main road, we strolled the dusty streets and tracks, but it was odd, we felt like we were intruding.
However, that was until a local guy, sitting outside the grocery store struck up a conversation. Intrigued by our wanderings he advised us to go and search out the local cemetery to see the contrasts within the town.
Crossing the railroad, it appeared to us that Marathon had the feel of two communities, a town separated by the railway line, poorer on one side than the other.
But the cemetery clearly displayed the difference between protestant & catholic celebrations of the dead.
We strolled back through the town, not a soul to be seen, and half expecting tumbleweed to blow passed us.
The next morning, fueled up on Heuvos Rancheros from a local diner, we hit the road for a day at the Big Bend National Park.
On the way to Big Bend we took a slight detour to stop at Terlingua Ghost Town. In the mid 1880’s this was a bustling mining town, but over time the population dwindled. Now only a handful of people remain along with rusting remnants of the past.
Dirt track of course
Into the park, via the Maverick junction entrance, and immediately we have a choice, is to be the 14-mile dirt track, or a 30-mile tarmac road – no choice really; 14mile dirt track it is then.
The landscape at Big Bend is very dry and arid, quite inhospitable, but cactus and other vegetation appear to like it.
Leaving our trusty steed, we jump out of the car and go wandering, as we are so close to the Mexican border we knew the Rio Grande wouldn’t be too far away.
And we were right.
Continuing through this amazing park it is so peaceful and the scenery is stunning.
Mountains and Mesa’s
Big Bend NP is huge and 118 miles of it is along the border with Mexico.
Cruising through the park, we continue jumping in and out of the car to take in this parched landscape with backdrops of mountains and mesa’s.
There are hikes and trails all around the park, but as we only had one day here our activities were limited.
Chisos Mountains Lodge is located 5,400 ft. up in the Chisos Basin, take a stroll around here as the views are spectacular.
After a full day, we wanted to get back to Marathon before darkness fell, obviously being in such a remote part of the country the wildlife roams freely and fences are not really taken seriously.
We were warned to take care if driving in the dark and we were right to, it’s not until you are more or less alongside the animals do you notice them.
So as the sun was setting out they came. In a short stretch of road we counted 7 deer, and a group of hogs grazing by the roadside. One deer had the most amazing set of antlers, fantastic to see but it's going to get messy if they dart out in front of you.
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