Thursday, November 22, 2007

More wonderful Texas adventures

Week #3 Texas; Nov. 18 to 22

Let’s do our best to make the time we have count. Rather than live with reluctance, let’s live with exuberance. Instead of fearing what’s ahead, let’s face it head-on with enthusiasm. And because life is so terribly short, let’s do everything we can to make it sweet. – Pastor Chuck Swindoll

I’ve discovered the sweetness of life by traveling in Jeremiah with my Cat. And the sweetness of friends and family. I’ve appreciated hearing from family and friends and glad to keep everyone posted to my whereabouts.

Since I last wrote, I’ve had some great adventures.

Marathon, Texas

Carol Rayburn, Elizabeth Baldridge and I left Big Bend National Park on Sunday morning (Nov 18), driving about 70 miles to Marathon Texas: elevation 4040, population about 600. So many friends have talked about this small town it was imperative to spend some time there. We spent the night at Marathon Motel and RV Park, a delightful place that was even more delightful when I discovered it was near the railroad tracks. I actually love to hear trains in the night, and I was not disappointed.

Marathon was named in 1882 by retired sea captain, railroad surveyor and local landowner who said the locale, a high desert basin surrounded by mountains, reminded him of the famous Marathon in Greece, home of the first “marathon” The small, mostly ranching town now has its own race – M2M (marathon to Marathon) that goes from Alpine to Marathon each October.

The well-known historic Gage Hotel was a must-stop for our supper/happy hour. Dinners are pricey, mid $30s, so we choose to go to the bar and order from the less-costly bar menu, combining our nightly Happy Hour with a light dinner. A step into the hotel is an experience of days gone by when all a cowboy needed to feel alive was a breath of fresh air and the magnificent night sky filled with stars. The hotel was built by a wealthy rancher in 1927. In those days, Marathon was a bustling town of about 2,000, a railway shipping point for cattle from ranches as well as silver and mercury from mines to the south. It had the only U.S. factory for natural rubber made from the desert plant guayule.

The other draw to this small town was Shirley’s Burnt Biscuit Bakery. Early Monday morning that was our stop before leaving town. As we enjoyed our baked goodies and coffee, the waitress took our picture. The sign on the wall says: “If it ain’t burnt, Momma didn’t make it”

Langtry, Texas and Seminole Canyon State Park

On Monday morning, our destination was Seminole Canyon State Park, about 140 miles east. On the way we stopped in Langtry, Texas. The guide books described Langtry as “a ghost town with a Visitor’s Center. It is where the (in)famous Judge Roy Bean – the law west of the Pecos – had his Jersey Lilly Saloon and Courtroom. Texas has preserved the original saloon on the grounds of the official State Visitor’s Center. The Center has great interactive displays, a delightful cactus garden.

The next two nights would be spent at Seminole Canyon State Park, near where the Rio Grande and Pecos River come together.

Both rivers have cut deep, jagged canyons through the Chihuahuan Desert wilderness. As with much of the southwest, this area was home to “the ancient ones”. These early inhabitants, hunters and gatherers, lived in natural rock shelters carved into the canyon walls by the river. My late supper was daughter Sue’s delicious Chicken tetrazini. Thanks, Sue!

Nights come early – it is pitch black by 6:30 p.m., and the stars were dazzling. However, in the mornings, the area was completely fogged in and the humidity was high! Reminders of those foggy mornings of my Carlsbad, California, home.

On Wednesday, besides the hiking Carol R and I did, the plan was to pack up and move the motorhomes from our campsites to the visitors parking lot in order to participate in the Wednesday guided hike to see pictographs in the canyon.

After the hike, we drove about 40 miles to our “home” for the next two nights – Buzzards Roost in Del Rio, Texas.

Along the way, we went through Comstock, Texas. We didn’t expect much because the guide book said, “the highway frontage is littered with failed businesses and the liveliest building in town is the U.S. Border Patrol Station.” After a peak of 2,000 hardy souls during WWII, current population is about 400.

Del Rio, Texas – a border town with Acuna, Mexico

Our camping sites at Buzzards Roost were in a tree-shaded area. Normally that would have been great, but the weather has turned cold and more sun would have been nice. However, we did have WIFI Internet.

First stop after parking was a bike shop for bike repairs; both had flat tires. Even though it was the afternoon before Thanksgiving, the shop was still open and the tires were fixed quickly. Second stop was Walmart for various needs.

Thanksgiving morning we woke to 44-degree temps with a stiff breeze that made it even colder – with dinner reservations made for 2 p.m., we headed to Acuna, Mexico. After parking Carol R’s tow car at the US side of the border, we walked the nearly mile sidewalk to the Mexican town. But before we could enter the walkway, we each had to deposit 75 cents.

We enjoyed the walk even though it was quite cold. Those familiar with the geography of Texas know that the Rio Grande (river) forms the USA/Mexico border in Texas. As we crossed the actual river – quite low – we enjoyed some bird watching. It was interesting to spot the American Wigeon (duck) that summers in the lagoon behind my Rio Rancho home.

We walked the main street for several blocks, going into several stores. Soon I was asked by “Armando” if I wanted a shoe shine; I said maybe later. I did have on some very dusty shoes badly in need of a shine. We saw him again and he flashed me a smile saying, “Later, OK?” So when we neared the Crosby restaurant and bar where we had decided to have a very early happy hour, there was Armando. So, for $2 he did a great shoe shine.

I soon caught up with my two traveling friends at Crosby’s where we enjoyed margaritas and nachos.

We considered getting a taxi back to our car, but then thought of our Thanksgiving meal coming up and decided to get the physical exercise; we planned to eat heartily. The dinner was quite delicious – turkey and all the trimmings.

I have so much to be thankful for! I am blessed with family, friends, health, and the gumption to get out and see the world in Jeremiah. In retrospect, I’ve had a wonderful life, and have no regrets about any of it! It is a great feeling.

I’ll sign off with this quote by John Randolph (no, I don’t know who he is/was):

Time is at once the most valuable
and the most perishable of our possessions.

Please make time for those things and people you love and value.

Since leaving Las Cruces, we’ve driven 700 miles in 15 days!

Tomorrow we’ll be on the road again – this time heading north/east to Fredericksburg.