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Past Adventures

Spring Break 2007 - Boyd's Big Bend Adventure : (Part II)

The sights include :  The Woodward Ranch; Terlingua Ranch; Terlingua Creek Paisanite, Petrified Wood and Agate; The Sights of Study Butte and the Terlingua Ghost Town, The Hwy 170 Sites; A Hike in Closed Canyon; La Kiva; The Lost Mine Trail; A hike into Boquillas Canyon; Rio Grande Village; A Hike into Santa Elena Canyon; and the Hot Springs of the Park.

Forward : (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

           Ok, are we ready for Part II of this Spring Break 2007 adventure?  If you are coming into this story for the first time, then please click on the link below for the first part of the story :

Spring Break 2007 - Boyd's Big Bend Adventure : (Part I)

          Otherwise, please read on......

Star Date : 03/11/2007 - Sunday, Finally, Down to the Bend!!!

The Woodward Ranch.....

          Betty would not let us leave until we had another fulfilling breakfast at the Prude Ranch Lodge.  After breakfast, we finally checked out and Boyd and I asked her if the city of Fort Davis is so dark due to the McDonald Observatory being nearby.  Boy, did we ever open can worms on this one.  Betty proceeded to explain how the power company along with officials from the observatory came down on them for their light usage and converted them over to some kind of low ambiance lighting.  We also had to hear about why they had to play their football games at certain times until a new type of lighting was installed at their stadium.  Again, I looked around the Internet and found an article from their power company that explained everything.  Please see the link below :

 

TEC: Texas Electric Cooperatives

 
 

Blinded by the Light

 

 After hearing Betty's soapbox, we headed south on Hwy 118, made it through Alpine and then to our first stop for the day, the Woodward RanchAgain, my main mission here was to procure more agates indigenous to the Big Bend area.  I met Trey again, however, it was his wife, Jan, who helped me pick out my new stones to wire wrap with.  While we were there, a school group showed up to try there luck at finding agate.  Poor Trey, he obviously had his hands full with that group!

          After paying for my new stones to wire wrap with, Jan told me that she would take trades.  Hum, maybe this might be a way to get my jewelry and lapidary products featured here.  I will work on it.  By the way click on the link below to the the pendants I made with the agate from the ranch and Donna's Balmorhea Blue stones :

Stones Purchased Before The Wire Wrap

Wire Wrapped Big Bend Stones

           Please remember, this is the place to hunt for a lot of the agate that comes from this area.  Therefore, Please click on the link below for more information :

The Woodward Ranch 

(11/29/2016 - FYI, I have heard that Trey has passed away.  The Shop may be closed now.)

Terlingua Ranch .....

          After about another 40 minutes of driving south on Hwy 118, we finally found the entrance to Terlingua Ranch on the east side of the Hwy 118.  Although they said it was 16 miles from he highway, it seemed much further due to all the twist and turns in the road and the last 3 miles on a caliche road all the more longer.  After checking in, we set up our tent which turned into a major chore.  Although they had a nice site for camping, the ground was desert pavement.  This hard surface was impenetrable to out plastic stakes.  We basically had to dig our own stake hole, insert our stake, fill in the rest of the hole with small gravel and rocks and then top off the tent stake with a big stone.  The inside corners of the tent where also weighed down with big stones.  Once that chore was done, the rest was easy.  However, I'm glad we put this thing up in broad daylight since we probably would have never been able to put it up in the dark with all the obstacles we encountered.  (And I thought this was going to be an easy day of just sight seeing?)

          Once the tent was up, we left the ranch and continued south on Hwy 118 and did the ole' Study Butte/Terlingua Ghost Town/Hwy 170 run......

The Highway 170.....

          Highway 170 is a state road that is sometime referred to as the River Road due to the fact that it pretty much runs parallel with the Rio Grande.  It begins in Study Butte and runs through Terlingua, Lajitas Big Bend Ranch, Presidio, Ruidosa and ends in Candelaria.   We shall begin at the corner of Hwy 118 and Hwy 170.

Terlingua Creek Rocks and Minerals .....

          After gassing up again, our first pit stop was La Kiva restaurant and bar.  But, not to eat or drink, but to go on another rock hunt.  This time for more paisanite.  I'm not going to go into this hunt into any real detail since I have been before and all the information you need for this site can be found in the link below :

Terlingua Creek Rocks and Minerals

          However, I will say that I did pick up plenty of paisanite, an agate or two and Boyd did find a nice chuck of petrified wood.  After a while, it was time to move on to the dangerous gift shop.....

The Dangerous Gift Shop .....

          After the rock hunt, we got back on Hwy 170 and continued west until we hit Ivey street.  Then, we made a quick right hand turn and drove up the hill to that dangerous gift shop known as the Terlingua Trading Company.  The main danger here is that you generally done leave without spending at least a little money. 

          My main procurement here was gem and mineral pieces that I could use as bases for my new gem tree line of lapidary products.  Although they have the mainstream of other rocks and fossils for sale here, the pieces I was after were the calcite and hectite pieces that could once be obtained out of Boquilas after crossing the River at Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park.  After 911, they closed that unofficial border crossing off and the Terlingua Trading Company is the only place you can go to buy these gems at around here.  I believe they originally come from the caves in northern Mexico. When visiting this shop, don't forget to take a little self tour of the old miner cemetery across the way from the parking lot.....

The Old Miner Cemetery .....

          Most of the miners here were involve with the mining of quicksilver or otherwise known as mercury.  In the late 1800's and early 1900's, little was known about the poisoning effect of mercury and as a result, most of these miners died from being exposed to it.  One thing that impressed me was the architecture of their gravesites.  Click on the photo links below to see what I'm talking about :

Gate to the Cemetery,  

Mexican Gravesite 1,   Mexican Gravesite 2,  

Mexican Gravesite 3, Mexican Gravesite 4

Ruins Around the Cemetery

More Ruins Around the Cemetery

          For more information on the Terlingua Trading Company and the old ghost town, please the link below :

The Terlingua Ghost Town

          After busting a few ghosts, we continued west on Hwy 170 to our next stop......

Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center .....

          The Center was built in 1982 by the Lajitas Foundation as the Lajitas Museum Desert Gardens. Texas Parks and Wildlife purchased it in October 1990 and renamed the center after Dr. Barton Warnock, a well-respected botanist, specializing in the Big Bend region. Dr. Warnock passed away June 9, 1998. The Center serves as the eastern entrance gateway to Big Bend Ranch State Park and interprets 570 million years of geological history and the five biological landscapes of the Chihuahuan Desert, a region better known to most West Texas travelers as the Big Bend.

          The facility also serves as the headquarters for Big Bend State ranch.  We wanted to hike a canyon called Closed Canyon in which it's head trail is off of Hwy 170 further west from here.  Thus, the reason we stopped, to obtain our daily permit.  Much of the land west of Terlingua is the Big Bend State park.  Although most is undeveloped.

          After obtaining our day pass for the park, we took in one last view of the place and continued to drive west.  For more information on the Big Bend State Ranch and the Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center, please see the web link below :

Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center

Big Bend State Ranch

 

Lajitas ...

          Lajitas was our next stop.  This small community and resort, has elected a goat for their mayor and he likes beer!!!  So, we feed him!!!

          Lajitas does has a nice little shopping area to stop at.  The resort side of the small community has that old wild west town feel to it.

          After feeding Henry, we continued west.....

Contrabando .....

          I really don't know anything about this place other than it was a movie set at one time.  The did a good job in making the village look real.  However, once inside, you can see the plywood used.  Here's a few shots of the place :

First Stop, the Bathroom

The Gate to the Contrabando Movie Set

The Village

Perhaps a House,   Inside the House

Fake Plywood Wall

The Church

Set Needing Repairs (See the wood underneath?)

The Rio Grand Looking Upstream

The Rio Grande Looking Downstream

          Click on the link below for a virtual reality tour of the movie se :

Contrabando in Virtual Reality

          We left the movie set and continued west again. 

More Hwy 170 Sights .....

          There's always some interesting sights to see on this road.  Click on the links below, to see what we saw, before we arrived to Closed Canyon :

Donkey's in the Road

Hoodoos by the Roadside

Nice View

Another Teepee Rest Stop

Closed Canyon .....

           We finally made it to Closed Canyon for our only hike of the day.  The site is a little more than 20 miles west from the Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center.  Just look for the rest stop to the south of Hwy 170.  Click on the links below for our photo op. of the trail :

Start of Trail,   Nearing the Canyon

Entering the Slot ,   Looking Back Out

In the Canyon ,   A Cave Up Above

Veins of Calcite in the Canyon Walls

End of the Trail

          A word of caution at the end of the trail.  The canyon does go all the way to the Rio Grande River.  However, as you can see from the last photo, it drops off quite deep and the water could be 6 - 8 feet deep.  Don't go any further unless you are a highly experienced mountain climber with the right gear.  Since Boyd and I were not professional mountain climbers and we had no gear, we listened to our stomachs and doubled backed to the car and returned to Study Butte for dinner at La Kiva.

La Kiva .....

          This is one of my favorite spots in the Study Butte area.  You first enter by going down some stairs.  Thus, the name of the place.  (Kivas were underground ceremonial halls for some of the American Southwest Indians).  Once you in, you have an inviting bar beckoning you to order your favorite drink or a beer.  Now they do serve food, however, it's not a four star restaurant.  The main attraction of this place is the open mike night on Wednesday nights.  That's when the party really begins here!

          Too bad we're leaving for home on Wednesday morning.  We did order dinner and while waiting for our meals, a huge gust of wing came in from the north rattle things around in the outside area for quite some time.  In fact, several folks who were partying outside had to escape and came back in.  We prayed that this was just a localized event.

Back at Terlingua Ranch .....

          After dinner, we returned back to our campsite and Terlingua ranch.  It was dark when we got back and when we got to our camp site, our tent was down.  We tried to put the poles back up, unfortunately that evil wind that we experienced in Study Butte hit here also and broke two of our poles!  There was no way we could fix this in the dark.  Several of the other campers came up to us and told us about the windstorm that passed through here.  Apparently, they to had downed tents, but fortunately no broken poles.  And we were worried about our tent stakes holding?  To close things up here, I slept in the car and Boyd slept on one of the cots beside the car to break any wind.  But no one could sleep due to the noisy RV'ers across the way at the next campground.  It was a real busy day, with a great disappointment.

 Star Date : 03/12/2007 - Monday, Our First Trip into the Park !!!

The Phoenix Rises from the Ashes ......

           We managed to wake up early enough and got ourselves ready for the day.  We took another look at our pathetic tent.  Then, Boyd got an idea.  We cannibalized some extra tent poles which were suppose to be used as an awning and modified several other poles and soon we had a tent again.  Hey !!!  It was the best we could do.  We just hoped and prayed that it would still be up when we returned form the day's hikes. 

The Lost Mine Trail .....

          We finally headed on out and back south on Hwy 118 again, but this time to the park.  After paying our fees, we made a bee line to the Lost Mine Trail.  Be careful, watch out for those bikers!!!  They're all over the place and due to the curves of the road, you just might hit one.  If you want a good workout, then this trail is for you.  Click on the photo links below for a view of the trail and the sights that can be seen :

Lost Mine Trail 1,   Lost Mine Trail 2 ,   Lost Mine Trail 3

Lost Mine Trail 4 ,   Lost Mine Trail 5,   Lost Mine Trail 6

Lost Mine Trail 7 ,   Lost Mine Trail 8 ,   Lost Mine Trail 9

          We conquered one trail for the day.  Now, on to number 2.....

Boquillas Canyon .....

          After our first hike, we explored the Chisos Basin lodge area for some Big Bend Souvenirs and then headed out to the east side of the park for the Boquillas Canyon Overlook Trail.  On the way over there, we stopped at Panther Junction for a rest stop and to check out their fossil collection.  One fossil in particular caught my eye, the wing of some ancient flying dinosaur.  Just before the turn-off to the Boquillas Canyon area, we passed through a very interesting tunnel.

          I would probably recommend using sandals or sneakers for this hike or just bring them along.  This is a cool place to get your feet wet.  While walking to the canyon, we passed a very exhausted little girl.  Her mom told us she went up it 5 times!  What did she mean by that?  Five times?  Click on the photo links below to find out and to see some views of the trail :

Start of trailhead ,   Overlooking the Rio Grande

Another View of the River ,   Into the Canyon

Made it to the River ,   Nice Canyon View

More Paisanite was Found

The Sand Slide (This is what that poor little girl's mom meant.)

The Cave Above the Sand Slide (And this.)

Some Mexican Selling their Trinkets

          After hiking back, we toured the Rio Grande Village area to checkout their campsite.  They also have the ruins of the old Daniel's ranch house there.  One that was completed, we left the park for our camping site in our newly resurrected tent.

The Maverick Rock Shop .....

          Remember that polished piece of Christmas Agate I saw and inquired about at the Blue Agate Rock Shop in Fort Davis?  This was the place to obtain that rare treat, the Maverick Rock Shop. I was impressed by the way he used rocks and stones to build his outside walls.  All in agate and petrified wood.  As it turns out, the shop is owned and operated by Hans Luett.   Hans has a little bit of everything here and he was hiding the Christmas agate out in the back.  I picked up a few pieces and then we made our way back to our campsite.  For more information on this rock shop, please click on the link below :

The Maverick Rock Shop

Back at the Ranch .....

           We arrived at our campsite with plenty of light to spare to allow us to explore the ranch a bit more.  One thing I found out there was a type of Jasper made from the ancient volcanic ash which had the wavy lines of strata in them that looked like cool desert scenes.  Of coarse I had to have some.

          We did enjoy a nice sunset while kicking back a few.  It would have been really nice and peaceful out there if the campers in the RV area would just shut the hell up!!!

          I think it's time for another break.  I told you it would be a long one.  So hit the refrigerator again for another soda and then click on the link below when you are ready to return

Spring Break 2007 - Boyd's Big Bend Adventure : (Part III)

       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!

                                                     Francis                        

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 Copyright 1999 by [The Texas Road Runners - Francis Kiefel]. All rights reserved.