Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Leaving Big Bend

I will leave Big Bend in the morning, back at the campground it has filled up a bit there is now a small class A sitting between me and the truck camper, a few others have set up a tent or 2 here and there...still a small crowd.  This campground has 2 pit toilets...the closest one is the worst example of a pit toilet, so I walk to the farthermost one.  The difference is amazing...I think maintenance has recently been done in this unit.  There is male and female...why?? Each is single use.

                                     g. roadrunner finds a meal

SO now I admit this little tidbit.  On this trip TWICE I walked into male bathrooms. With the modern entrance there is no barrier.  The door-less maze-walk-in does not stop someone who is not paying attention! (moi)  Seriously???? Thank goodness no men were present..but when I look up and see a row of urinals and only 2 stalls with doors....that is my que to get the heck out!! About face immediately! If men had been present they would have been unhappy I imagine...Jeeze.  Once in a Walmart, (they are NOT laid out the same) and once again in a roadside rest area...after the second time... "okay this is crazy, will you please stop and study the little "icon" at the entry point before proceeding"??

This whole thing brought back a memory of another trip where a woman did the same thing and I heard the men tell her "You're in the men's room" ...she yelled and laughed and announced her mistake once inside the ladies room.  I took a stroll through the campground to the back end where the group camp is it was vacant and I saw bird movement back there...

It looks like some sort of insect in a casing, he hammers it a few times them...down it goes. 

a little video..

road runner eating a bug

and finally a still roadrunner.  

                 This big Jack Rabbit lives in group camp he is quite striking...if you look really close you can see the desert landscape reflection in this rabbit's eye....

Vermilion flycatchers were busy in this campground too. 

along with Nashville Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Lark Sparrows, Western and Couch's Kingbird, Painted Buntings, Inca Doves, Brown headed Cowbirds, and one Grey Hawk!!

She had a nest up in this tree...I was not able to get a shot of her but she called many times and shuffled around the top of the tree a few times, here is her nest.

I found out about the nest from this lady she is the owner of the truck camper I mentioned.  The tree is driectly over her campsite another reason I did not get a photo of the bird, I would be violating this lady's personal space in my opinion,...and disturbing her..and look she is a most talented lady!!

She is from Colorado and she was on her last day in Big Bend as well...I imagine that truck camper is full of paintings as she had been in the park a month.  Click on this link that takes you to the large size of this photo so you can see the details in her painting.

a Nashville Warbler peeking down out of the trees...

 I stopped at one overlook area when I left Santa Elena Canyon the day before and spotted and took this photo of this bird...I studied and studied it and finally concluded it is a female Lark Bunting. Cant think of nothing else it could be! A terrible shot but a life bird.  So I wanted to include it here for my own record as that is main purpose of my blog, in fact going back I have found some blunders and have since corrected...like putting up a photo of a Tennessee Warbler with the label of female yellow rump! Don't have a clue how I made that mix up but stuff happens when you're sifting through 100's of photos... So here is My lark bunting sighting. 

In the morning I had one more walk about the campground then
I left the park via the west entry and into the Ghost town of Terlingua.  

The claim to fame then famine was Quicksilver!! Better known as Mercury!  

Many of the past city's inhabitants now reside here in the old cemetery... died of an influenza outbreak in 1918.  

the sign says they celebrate every Nov 2 The Day of the Dead I saw many remnants of those past celebrations, they need to do a cemetery clean up day! Most of these fallen over crosses are illegible. 

according to the last census 56 people still make this town home...I did see a few artsy type shops, I did not stop to check inside...just drove through and kept...going.  

I hit the road heading north toward Guadalupe Mountain National Park.  After gassing up in Study Butte.  

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Santa Elena Canyon

Slept good but awoke early...I had my coffee brewing before anyone pulled out this morning! An entire family of Javelina came through the campground...I love the piglets so cute.  Dang why didn't I video this?

hmmm look who is all puffed up this morning...lol love these roadrunners they are quite amusing to watch..

After watching the wildlife in camp I made some breakfast, put everything in it's place and headed back to the Castolon/ Santa Elena Junction and to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  This area is very scenic. 

My plan was to bypass most stops go and get the Perfect Spot in Cottonwood campground as I saw the pattern that by 3 pm the sites start to fill up.  Cottonwood is smaller with 26 sites...and no flush toilets.  So that's what I did...there was no one there only one truck camper...many of the sites were surrounded by standing water...because they were pumping water from the river to Irrigate the campground.  It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me but anyways...who am I to say.  So I paid for and put my picnic table cover on site #2 then left to go to Santa Elena Canyon.   The scenic drive did not disappoint.

found this arch....

The Mules Ears 

to me its more like bats ears...

stopped to see these Sublett homestead ruins....Then onto Santa Elena Canyon. 

The Rio Grande goes right though the middle of this 11 mile canyon....Mexico on the left, USA on the right...
The hike is a little more 1.7 round trip since the River has moved a bit since it's last flood.  So the actual trail is about 3/4 mile farther now.  

The old trail used to start right there see the white sand path just over the bank in the greenery on the lower right?  Now the water has channeled itself here so you have to walk down the rocky beachy area about 1/4 mile to access the trail...Then you start climbing..and there's a series of switchbacks but that part is paved.  If you look closely you can see the switchbacks and there's guardrails along the edges of the paved sections..

It was getting hot early so any breeze was nice.  The trail follows the canyon edge...

A good view with lots of awesome plants...and animals..

checkered whiptail

And Bingo another new bird..the Canyon Wren...right here in a canyon! Amazing. 

then the trail levels off then you are meandering through  the canyon..

Then you are able to make your way down to the water, up stream the canyon narrows...the water is very warm and shallow...

There is a nice echoooooooo here tooooooooooo!

some modern petroglyphs

Some kind of water snake, 

Round pupil....But once he swam away I got down and waded in the water, the mud was hard to wash off! Very sticky.  The hike back was no fun because I didn't bring enough water!!

Zebra tailed lizard..

then I went back and had my siesta at the campground...but I moved to Site # 1 It was shadier...

...still only the truck camper you see on the far left is the only other camper..after my early siesta I drove back up the Scenic Drive to catch a few other spots I wanted to hit.  One was Homer Wilson's Ranch.  

That's it down in the valley...the trail is easy a bit rocky and some thorn scrub once you get down on the valley floor.  

Black throated sparrows kept me company...

Gorgeous!  And finally I make it over to the Ranch House it is located at the intersection of a few long distance hikes...

This ranch house was in use up until 1945...

There is a nest up in the rafters there...A Say's Phoebe?

The front of the house...

You know If I had my tools I think I could make this place livable again!! 

And a stop on the way back to camp for some late and lovely Texas Blue Bonnets. 

Tomorrow is going to be my last day in Big Bend...wish I had arrived earlier in the season, there is so much more to see and do here!!

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.