Wednesday, March 16
We got our day passes and headed for the Closed Canyon Trail inside the Big Bend Ranch State Park. This is a slot canyon, and worth a visit just to see it. It wasn’t the longest hike we have done, but it’s pretty physical once you get into it, going down rocks as you go in, and up them as you go out. We reached one towards the end that looked like 5 feet of smooth rock, and while we could see getting down, getting back up seemed chancy so we turned around. Given the difficulty of the ones we went up as we returned, it was the right decision. Then it was off to the store. The Park is having a St. Patrick’s Day potluck tomorrow, and we need to buy some fruit for a fruit bowl. When we got back, the temperature kept rising and we had to turn on the air conditioning.
Thursday, March 17
The RV Park did a St. Patrick’s Day pot-luck brunch, so we made fruit salad and joined everyone. After eating our fill, we came back to the RV and took the day off.
Friday, March 18
We had another trail to check out in Big Bend Ranch State Park, the Hoodoo trail. This took us down to the river side and then back up. The ocotillos in particular were starting to bloom there. After hiking that trail, we stopped on the way back at a side road that looked interesting and did a little more hiking. We found rocks where wind erosion had carved out holes, and an abandoned adobe hut. Finally we had enough and came back to the RV.
Saturday, March 19
Our last day at Loma Paloma. We did laundry and some chores, then went to our last Loma Paloma Happy Hour at the Lizard Lounge. We had an unexpected guest this time, a dust devil. It was another hot day, and when we tried to put on the air conditioning we lost power. Ït turned out the breaker died on us, but in the course of diagnosing and fixing the problem it was pointed out to us that we have a 50 amp RV, and all this time we thought it was 30 amp. We’ll have to deal with that, but it can wait until we get back to Michigan.
Sunday, March 20
Travel day. We went to Lost Alaskan RV Park in Alpine, TX, which gets us a little closer to the Big Bend National Park. It will still be a drive, but less than we would have had from Loma Paloma, and easier to drive as well. We will be here for 5 nights. This is a somewhat more upscale park, and therefore costs more, but it is our last real stay. When we leave here we are heading back to Michigan.
Monday, March 21
Another taking care of business day. The RV Repair place came by and installed a new Dometic toilet and a shut-off valve, which solved our toilet problem. It wasn’t that bad, actually, since we capped the water supply line. All we had to do was load a few gallon jugs with water and manually put the water in the toilet. We probably could have lived with it all the way back to Michigan, but the folks were friendly and made it easy for us, so no regrets. Once that was done we did our shopping and went back to the RV to stay.
Tuesday, March 22
We went to the RV Repair place to pay the bill, and got some information about the Big Bend National Park from the folks there. But it was getting later, and today is very cold and very windy. And since the weather looks better tomorrow we decided to go there on Wednesday instead. So in place of the Park we went to the Museum of the Big Bend. We had a very nice few hours there. It is a little museum, but well arranged. The exhibits are chronological around the outside of a room, and you start with the dinosaurs. Fossils have been dug in this area, including one of a pterosaur called Quetzlcoatlus, one of the largest flying animals of all time. Then it moves to the native tribes, the early Spanish, the Americans, the Texas Revolution, and the Indian wars of the late 19th century. It finally ends up with Hollywood using the area for filming, such as the movie Giant, which starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean in his final role.
Wednesday, March 23
Today was our last excursion on this trip. We drove down from Alpine to the Big Bend National Park. We drove along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. stopped along the way to see the abandoned Sam Nail Ranch, and then at the end went to the Santa Elena Canyon. There is a hiking trail here, but to get on it you first have to climb up the side of the mountain. It isn’t too bad because they have built concrete steps and ramps to get you up, but you still have to be careful since there are no guard rails for much of the climb. Once on top you walk into the canyon, and gradually work your way down to the river. Which river? The Rio Grande, of course. You could literally do an illegal entry into Mexico just by wading here, though what you would do when you got there I couldn’t imagine, since there is no trail on the Mexican side. The canyon was carved out by the river, and no doubt it started with some kind of crack in the mountain. One thing that struck us all along the Rio Grande is that for all of the talk about invasions and walls, the border looks like it is undefended. Of course, there are Border Patrol checkpoints on all of the major roads going north from the border, so there is some enforcement activity. It was a long day with a lot of driving, so we were pretty tired when we got back to the RV.
Thursday, March 24
After the long day yesterday, and knowing we start the five day trek back to Michigan tomorrow, we took today as a rest day. Grocery shopping and filling the tank on the truck are today’s main activities.
Friday, March 25
We left Alpine in the morning and headed to Tye, TX, just outside of Abilene. The trip took 7 hours towing the RV, which is a very long and tiring trip. We should probably look to reduce the daily driving next time, but for now we have reservations and plans. The daily trips weren’t so long on our way out in December, so I hope it will get shorter from here. This is just an overnight stop, we’re off again in the morning.
Saturday, March 26
From Tye we went to the Oak Glen RV park in Oklahoma. This is the same park we stayed at on our trip out in December, and from here we are simply retracing our steps and staying at the same places.
Sunday, March 27
Wwe left Oklahoma and headed for the Lamplight Lane RV Park. This time it did not go as well. The owner was not there, but he had someone working there. We could not use the credit card machine, but fortunately we had cash. And it was a very tight space. We decided this is a place we won’t come back to.
Monday, March 28
This time we got into the Terre Haute RV Park at a reasonable afternoon time, and it was a much better experience than when we froze here in December.
Tuesday, March 29
Back home in Michigan! It really felt good to get back home. We are always excited when we start a trip, and always happy to get home again when it is over.