Part 2: Ft. Davis, TX to Big Bend, TX


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The Trip

Our trip from Tucson to Las Cruces, NM was uneventful.  After a night in Las Cruces, we continued east to Ft. Davis to meet-up with the balance of our truck friends at the Ft. Davis State Park. Our path took us through beautiful El Paso, across the endless flats of west Texas and past the McDonald Observatory.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Vince was already on-site when we arrived at the Ft. Davis State Park.  His campsite was right next to ours.

Vince  comes to inspect our setup after we got settled.

The state park site is quite big and spans both the canyons and the ridges.  The flora is characteristic of the high desert in this area.

Spring has sprung and the yucca are in bloom.

The following morning the group drove to the overlook point to get a view of the area.  From the overlook we got a nice view of the broad valley to the south.

To the south-east are low volcanic peaks.

The lodge in the park was closed but it is a big structure nestled at the end of the canyon.

To the north-west we could see the McDonald Observatory.

At the lookout a crew of wildland firefighters had parked their trucks.  Due to the strong winds, the entire area was on alert for wildfires.  This crew was pre-positioned based on weather reports hoping to reduce response times if a fire does break out.

Next we visited the McDonald Observatory for a short tour of the Visitor's Center.  Some of the domes are visible in the photo above.

The observatory hosts radio telescopes as well as the conventional optical equipment.  This dish is in its storage position and is not in use.

From the observatory, we headed through Ft. Davis, east to Alpine then south toward Terlingua.  One of our crew has property north of Terlingua Ranch so we headed there for a night of remote camping.  Above, Mark and Laura head east on the dirt toward our camp.

The view from the campsite was excellent.  Despite the windy conditions, the visibility was good.  The photo above shows the view to the south toward the Terlingua Ranch.

There was no established camp, so we found some level ground on the edge of the ridge and dropped anchor.

Mark and Gail's U500 were close-by and Mark and Laura's truck we next to them.

 After the group got settled it was cocktail hour.  The following morning the group split.  One team remained at the remote camp and the other went to Terlingua to check out the town.  The town was underwhelming, but we did have a nice dinner at the Starlight Theater.

 The following day we traveled to Big Bend National Park to meetup with the other team at Rio Grande Village right on the Mexican border. Coming over the last ridge we could see the rugged peaks of the Sierra del Carmen in the distance.

We already had reservations at the camp so we went right to our assigned site and set up.  Some of the sites had a sun shade which is merciful during the summer.

Mark and Gail were in the next site.

We heard a bunch of commotion from the far camp site and went to investigate.  There was a herd of collared peccaries working their way through the campsite.  Usually, these are referred to by their Spanish name of javelina, or "javies".  These wild pigs are native to the southern portion of the U.S. and their range extends to Argentina in South America.  Note the white "collar" around their necks.

The javelina were accustomed to humans which is usually not a good thing.  These can be very mean and are known to charge humans when challenged.  We gave them wide berth and watched from our camp chairs.

The following morning we heard a ruckus from the trees close to the Rio Grande river and spotted a group of vultures roosting in the upper branches.  The bird on the right is warming his wings in the early morning sun.

The rugged peaks of the Sierra del Carmen are in the distance.  These vultures spend their days soaring on the desert's thermal currents.

These are ugly birds but necessary for a healthy ecosystem.  They are carrion eaters and serve as nature's undertakers.

It was a pretty easy drive to get to the camp from Andy's place.  Tomorrow, we will do a 4x4 trail along the Rio Grande called River Road that ends at Santa Elena Canyon.

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