Sunday, April 17, 2022

Big Bend Ranch SP–Lower Madera Campground–Terlingua TX

My campsite from  top of the hill - Zoomed In
My Campsite at Big Bend Ranch SP

Waiting out the dust stormDay 5:  The day that I arrived there were high winds with gusts up to 60 MPH, so I couldn’t set up my tent.  I unloaded the truck and got everything ready and decided to play it by ear.  The first part of my day was spent mostly listening to an audio book while I used my truck as a wind break.  While I was sitting there, I think I saw a road runner.  I haven’t seen one of those since I was a kid.Dust Storms

By dinner time there was no sign of the wind letting up, so instead of cooking dinner, I had a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches with the hot wind, my slices of bread went from fresh to lightly toasted by the time I ate,  I had dinner in the cab of the truck, which is where I ended up sleeping too.  Even though the sun went below the mountains at about 8p, it didn’t get dark until around 9p.  I had no trouble getting to sleep since I was up at about 4am that morning (a combination of being an early riser and still being on eastern-time).

One nice thing about the high winds is that they kept the clouds out of the sky… Wow! The stars were amazing!  I can’t remember the last time I could see the whole Milky Way.

My campsite from  top of the hill-1Day 6:  I slept pretty well in the cab of the truck – pillows and a sleeping bag made for a cozy fit.  It would have been nice to lay completely flat, but nonetheless I slept just fine.  This was good, because according to when I checked the weather yesterday, the high winds and dust storms were supposed to continue until midnight.  Note – the picture on the left is a view of my campsite from the top of a nearby hill.  That little black dot in the  center is my site.  I pretty much had the whole campground to myself.

I got the stove going to percolate coffee but it wasn’t a good day for cooking outside, so lunch was peanut butter sandwiches and an apple.  I figured that I could drive into Lajitas and find a restaurant  for dinner.  The dust had pretty much changed the color of my truck from black to tan, and the inside of the truck was only a little less dusty than the outside.  I was going to be bringing a lot of Texas home with me.

Camping StuffFor some reason, my solar panel stopped working today.  I didn’t have a multimeter with me, so I wasn’t able to troubleshoot it.  Good thing I had all of that ice with me; I was able to keep all of my food from spoiling.  (When I got home, I looked at it with a multimeter and found that it was just a bad connection.  Next time I bring the solar panel, I’ll make sure I also have a DMM with me).

Lajitas Cemetery-3Around 3pm I noticed that the wind was dying down, and there were even a few fluffy clouds in the sky.  This was encouraging, so I drove into Lajitas to check the weather.  Looks like the winds would be down to about 5 MPH by 9pm, so I was going to be able to set up my tent this evening after all.  With the winds dying down, I took some time to Visit Lajitas and the Contrabando Film Site.

Bench facing Closed Canyon  After returning from Lajitas, I stopped back at my campsite briefly and then headed out to hike the Closed Canyon Trail.  I’ve been looking forward to this short hike through a slot canyon that was only about seven or eight miles down the road.

After this hike, it was time for dinner so I headed back to my campsite to make some burgers and set up my tent for the night.  I was looking forward to stretching out and laying flat.

Sun rising behind meDay 7:  The pre-dawn hours in the desert get pretty darn cold, but once the sun is shining it warms up nicely and there’s just a cool morning breeze.  After climbing out of my sleeping bag, the first thing to do is get the percolator going for a couple of cups of coffee to start the day.  After that, I consolidated the melted ice from the frozen 5-gallon jug to the one I set aside for drinking and cleaning.  Then I transferred the rest of the frozen water bottles and the food that I had in the freezer all into the same cooler.

Hoodoos and bouldersAfter getting the campsite organized, and getting a couple of cups of coffee to kickstart my system, my plan for the morning was to go hike The Hoodoos Trail.  This is another short one, but it looks interesting.

After finishing that hike, I came back to the campsite to make some lunch.  Today’s menu was burritos, and I really like the way I make burritos.  I cooked up the ground beef back at home so all that I really had to do was heat everything up and assemble.  They were delicious!

Motorcycle Sculpture

Then it was to clean up my dishes and head up to visit the Terlingua Ghost Town and Roadside Attractions.  The Terlingua Ghost Town is about 11 miles north of the Barton Warnock Visitor Center where I checked into this campsite, so it was about a 25 mile drive to get there.

When I returned, I set my tent back up and made kielbasa and sauerkraut for dinner.  Then put on my camping slippers (Crocs) to relax for the rest of the evening.  After I finished eating, I heard an animal grunting somewhere in the bush.  After awhile I saw a family (herd? swarm?) of javelina walking around the campground.  It looked like they were exploring the empty sites looking for any food that might have been left behind.  It was another good day, and I had my plans for tomorrow, my last full day at this campsite.

Day 8:  My plan for my last day was pretty simple.  I was going to walk around the campground, throw some more of Texas into Mexico (yes, I did throw rocks across the river), as well as get some photos from some of the overlooks along the road.  I’ll stick those pictures down below.

Inside My Tent
Inside My Tent
Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande at the Campground
Shade for a hot day
Shade for a Hot Day
Purple Prickly Pear Cactus
Purple Prickly Pear
Rio Grande River
Rio Grande
Scenic Overlook-2
Scenic Overlook
Scenic Overlook-1
Scenic Overlook
Scenic Overlook-3
Scenic Overlook

Quick Stats

Fee $17
Reservations Yes (Reserve America)
Electricity No
Water No
Shower/Bath House No
Internet Access No
Lat. Long 29.293776°, -103.919544°
Note: Composting toilets are clean and have no odor.

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