Big Bend National Park

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The day was spent driving to our hotel in Alpine, Texas where we rested. When we reached the hotel I put my visor up and saw that there was an 8″ crack in the windshield. Damn. Before heading out to dinner I called USAA Insurance and arranged to have the windshield replaced after we got home.

Dinner was downtown where we got a little adventurous and tried some Street Tacos at a tiny little market with no name on it. The tacos were good and the price was cheap. These were the real Mexican tacos which are about half the size of the American version.

From our little feast we drove toward a beautiful sunset to Marfa to (hopefully) see the Mystery Lights. The sunset was fabulous so I grabbed some pictures of that.

Unfortunately all we saw were car lights in the distance. We did see a nice long-trailed asteroid hit the atmosphere, and I shot the Milky Way, with the clouds in the horizon, for fun.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

We headed straight for Big Bend National Park after a quick breakfast at McDonald’s. It was a long drive on a cold, overcast and windy day with not much to see until we entered the park.

We took the scenic drive and I spotted a Roadrunner in a bush. Alan backed the truck up so I could get a picture. A little later we stopped for a photo of a tarantula walking on the road.

Because we could, and because we’d been to Canada, why not go ahead and cross over into Mexico? The Boquillas Crossing in Big Bend was reinstated back in 2014, and since then has enjoyed the liquid border it once provided prior to 9/11. Only about 35 people cross each day. Boquillas is a tiny Mexican town no less than four miles from any other town in Mexico. The town has two restaurants, two bars, and one shop. Residents try and sell their hand-made wares here and there too. To get there you must stop at the Boquillas Crossing Port of Entry in Big Bend National Park, go through a short, but informative, orientation speech, then walk about 100 yards to the Rio Grand River (there is a well-worn path). Here you pay $5 each for a row boat ride to the other side. The folks that provide the transportation are regulated by the Park. You’ll get a ticket so that you can get a ride back for no additional fee (but we didn’t have to show our ticket to get back). I will state here that you do have the option of walking across the river if you’d like. However, if the river is up, as it was on our day here, they don’t recommend trying to walk it because the currents are strong and it can rise more quite suddenly.

Once on the other side you might be approached by some men asking if you want to ride a donkey/horse/truck into town, or if you need a guide. Just say, “Grasias, no”, and they will leave you to your own devices.

The hike to town is 3/4 of a mile – an easy, flat hike on hard sand. The last 20 yards are uphill where you have to submit your passport for entry at a fenced-in location (the building is a trailer). You’ll fill out the usual entry form, then, once your passport has been processed, you leave and walk into town.

By the way, donkeys, horses and trucks are also available, for a fee, for transportation back to the river.

We were told we could order a dish (to go) from either of the restaurants and take it to either of the bars (one below) in town if we wanted to enjoy drinks there.

Jose Falcon’s is the more popular, and most recommended, restaurant in town.

We had tacos and burritos, and some awful tasting Diet Cokes. The tacos were the standard Mexican size – about 3-4″ across, not the American super-size – so if you go to Mexico and order tacos, keep that in mind. The meal was very good.

Afterward we shopped for a traditional Mexican blanket (we found a pretty colorful one), and then headed back to the Mexican border office where we were processed out. We hiked back to the river, got a boat to the other side, walked back to the American border office, and processed back in (it was very quick).

All-in-all it was a great little adventure, and hey, I got another stamp in my passport book!