Caryl and Brian's World Bike Tour

Blanco, TX - Rio Grande Village, Big Bend, TX

Back Home Up Next


Date: Thu, 14 Mar 96 23:29:00 UTC 0000

Copyright (c) 1996 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.

Chapter 16 - Feb. 15 - Feb 29 Blanco, TX - Rio Grande Village, Big Bend, TX - 6201 miles cumulative

We sat inside, enjoying a few moments of warmth, some coffee, tea and cookies with our hosts Dick and Fran Dirk. We'd ridden a hard 48 miles over mighty steep hills to reach the RV USA campground in Comfort. Not long after arriving, the neighbors in the adjacent giant RV invited us in to get away from the cold. What luxury. Comfy captains chairs face the front providing a smooth driver's and passenger's seat. We sat on an actual sofa that lined the wall in front of the door while Dick sat in another comfy overstuffed chair opposite us. Further back the kitchen, complete with oven, fridge, microwave, and four gas burners lined one wall while a table with two benches lined the other. A small bathroom separated the kitchen/living room from a bedroom with a full queen size bed. All decor was tastefully done in the latest light blue with peach accents. This wasn't just an RV it was an out and out house on wheels.

Dick and Fran were so nice. We were actually rather surprised when they inviteed us in. Upon arriving, Fran came out to take their dog, one of those small black things that looks like an old man with wiskers, for a walk. I said "HI" and Fran just mumbled something. Our first impression was that these were not very friendly people. Yet, soon they invited us in out of the cold. Fran, a short, chubby red head with large spaces between her front teeth, was the less talkative of the two. She had basically spent her life as a housewife, raising six kids. She's now the proud grandmother of 15 grandkids. Dick, tall fairly slender, with a significantly receeded hairline and large tatoos all over his arms, worked as a fireman before he retired. He told us that firemen are allowed to work only 11 days in a month. So he was able to take on all sorts of other parttime jobs. Through judicious savings, he was able to retire at age 52. He said that 52 really should be the maximum age for a fire fighter as your physical abilities really dwindle after that.

So now they spend 6 months up in their home of Michigan and the other 6 in this RV park in Comfort getting away from the cold winters. In fact, they like Comfort so much, they're in the process of buying the 1.5 acres of land adjacent to the RV park. Then they'd be able to come down for 6 months and save the $125/mo site rental. Although $125/mo sure sounds cheap to us.

Dick used to be a great outdoorsman. He'd say, "I didn't think twice about hiking way out into the woods, building a fire, and just bedding down for the night right in the open. I used to carry several plastic trash bags. I'd collect leaves and such, stuff the bags, and just lay them out on one side. I lay down and have a good windbreak. Now that I'm older, I can't tolerate sleeping on the ground." Happens to a lot of folks. They grow older and then want all the luxeries, like a soft bed, TV, comfy chair. Dick spoke so fondly of the time he took an old school bus and turned it into a homemade camper. When the kids were young, he'd take them all over the place in this beat-up bus. "The kids still talk about the times spent in the bus." he boasted. As it grew older and the maintenance to keep it moving got too high, he parked it on some land and used it for a hunting cabin. Fran obviously hated it. She called it a "fire trap" as its only source of heat was an old Franklin style wood stove. She refused to stay in it, but Dick sure had a great time with it.

It was so comfortable being inside as what we hoped would be the last freeze of the season came through. But, we couldn't exactly move in on the Dirks. So, with the promise of a lift to the grocery store and a restaurant, we reluctantly went back out to face the elements.

After dinner we retired to the Rec room. The RV USA campground is one of those very, very nice RV parks. And we simply couldn't believe the price, $3 per biker. The shower room was spotless, the laundry room actually was decorated with wallpaper, and the recroom had a full kitchen along with tables, chairs, sofas, plants, decorations, etc. You could tell it was a well cared for park and the commradery of the patrons, both transient like us and full time like the Dirks, was extremely high. In the rec room two groups of retirees and one young boy were gathered for a game of dominoes and bridge. We quietly took seats at a table to read and listen. The boy was all excited about the "bikers" showing up. The women said something about motorcycles and he kept saying, "no they were bikes. I saw them when they came in." They were good friendly games between people who seemed to know each other very well. Yet before the evening was over I had an invitation from the women to join them doing craft type things the next day. So it was clear they were very willing to accept new folks into their circle. Unfortunately we needed to keep going, so I couldn't take them up on their offer.

Even still, it was so hard to get away from this RV park. Even the next morning men were still coming by to talk to us. One man had owned a motorcycle shop in Kerrville for years and years. He proceeds to come over and start telling us all about his accident, this person's accident, and so on. Why is it when we show up on our bikes some people feel the overwhelming urge to tell us all sorts of gory stories about how somebody they knew who was hit and either killed or very severly hurt. Perhaps it's their way of giving a friendly warning, but it sure tends to make us a little more nervous for that day. Yes we do know that accidents happen and people get killed while riding bikes. But, people get killed driving cars, or falling down stairs in their homes, or doing any number of seemingly "safe" things. If one were to lock oneself away to avoid any sort of dangerous situation, then what kind of life would that be. We'd rather live life to what we consider to be the fullest and accept whatever fate may have in store for us. Fortunately we don't find these sorts of people too often and we can quickly put those horror stories behind as we ride off.

We did finally manage to get away from RV USA by about 11 AM, but only after having to be introduced to what seemed like everyone in the park. I suppose everyone wants to see the novel bike tourists.

In the town of Kerrville we encountered one of those bizarre coincidences that seem to come by more often when we bike tour. Kerrville is a medium sized town of about 17,000 people located on the banks of the Guadalupe River. It's small enough that we were able to camp out by I-10 and essentially walk from one end of town to the other. Yet it's large enough to support a Wal-Mart supercenter, a Kmart, Beals, and J.C. Penny, as well as several large grocery stores, and a very large hospital smack dab in the middle of town. We wandered into the Kmart/JC Penny mall to look for new socks for Brian and lycra tights for me.

As we were walking out of Pennys headed to the Kmart, a man sitting on the bench said, "How'd you like Blanco." Lo and behold the Blanco park ranger who'd checked us into a campsite and given us a break on the entrance fee three days earlier was right there in the mall. He'd come to Kerrville with his son to drop off his mother and do some shopping. We were shocked. Imagine of all the places we each could have been at that moment. But for all of us to be right there in front of JC Penny at the exact same time, more than 70 miles and three days from the state park where we first met was quite unbelievable.

Yet, this isn't the first time we've experienced such coincidences. There was the time one of my older sister's former high school classmates recognized me in the St. Louis airport where she was waiting for a connection to Syracuse and we were headed to Washington D.C. Or the time we enlisted the aid of an English speaking Korean man for a few hours to get lunch and tour a temple. After saying goodbye and heading in our separate directions, we encountered him once again in a small town not less than 25K further down the road. And finally, the time we spent backpacking in Glacier National Park and we ran into the same German couple three separate times in entirely different locations during the weekend. And once again, 100 miles away on our way to the airport in Missoula we stopped for dinner in a small cafe and the same couple also appeared. What a shock.

Whenever these types of coincidences occur a small alarm goes off in my head saying, "pay attention. This encounter has some special significance." But I never do see much more than just plain old fate. Maybe a long time from now the true meaning of all these strange encounters will come to light.... Nah. Probably not.

If you take a look at the map of Texas you'll see that just west of Kerrville the number of roads, county and state, drops dramatically. This is where we dropped off of the Edwards Plateau and Texas Hill Country into the western Texas Desert. We were told that for each 100 miles west we ride the annual rainfall would drop by 10 inches. So we were headed for some dry areas.

The Edwards Plateau is the region that supplies water for the Edwards aquifer located under the San Antonio area. The Edwards aquifer is an absolutely enormous series of underground caverns filled with fresh water that drains from the hill country, through the limestone in the Edwards aquifer recharge zone, into these underground caverns. It's so large you can literally go scuba diving in it. It also supports its own unique life system. There are these cute lizards that, except for light pink fragile looking fins on their backs, are pure white. They have no optical nerves whatsoever. Since body color is usually associated with mating rituals and since these lizards have no eyes and live totally in the dark, who needs color. Normally the water input to the aquifer exceeds the output taken for civilized use. But, with the drought, the water level was dropping by about 6 inches per day. Texas water authorities were, naturally, quite concerned. Maybe a dance or sacrifice for the great rain god is needed.

>From Kerrville to Camp Wood we endured five horrendous hills. The hill country was created when the mainland of North America was forced up. The coastal region, however, tended to stay in place resulting in a dramatic height difference. Over the eons, rivers gradually cut large canyons into the edge of the shelf. Since the rivers tend to run north to south and our route was east to west, we were riding across the river and had to climb up and down each of the canyon walls. Actually, riding these types of hills isn't nearly as bad as one would think. Unlike those murderous hills of West Pennsylvania, these hills were each about 2 to 3 miles long with about a 500 to 750 ft climb. But, we were rewarded with fantastic views and a nice long downhill. So for each hour of up we would get about a 15 minute ride down. Whereas in Pennsylvania, about 90% of our time was spent climbing up slopes with at least 10% grades and there were no views or long downhill rests.

The streams through the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone are all filtered through the limestone shelf. Consequently the water is incredibly clear. We could watch fish scurring along the bottom for more than 100 yards. It was so tempting to reach down and take a drink. But, this is livestock region and who knows what else might live in the water. Unfortunately not long after Camp Wood we left the clear rivers behind and headed into the desert.

Comments we tend to attract as we ride by usually are so insane or incredulous we typically just giggle. But in the tiny town of Leakey (pronounced Lakey for some reason) I heard someone yell "free gas." I glanced back to see a medium weight man with gray hair, beard, and moustach waving from a small gas station. Thinking we'd give him a surprise we thought we'd stop in for some. We use unleaded gas for our Coleman Peak I Apex II stove and need to fill our fuel bottles about once a week. So we pulled in and said, "fill em up". He just laughed and said "well I figured any amount of fuel you had would be pretty small. So go right ahead." Well, he had called our bluff. It just so happened that our fuel bottles were full. Even our water bottles were full, so we couldn't even take the "free" water he offered.

By the time we reached the town of Bracketville, we were basically in desert and the temperatures had climbed up to an astonishing 103 degrees during the day. Unbelievable. The record temperature for this area was 85. These temperatures did not just break the record, they totally analiated it. We just couldn't believe that a mere 2 weeks earlier the temperatures were in the low teens and we were freezing. What in the world happened to spring. We went right from winter to summer. We've been through some of the most incredible weather extremes over the past 6 months. Some folks say it's global warming. We just think that mother nature is mad at us for some reason.

We came to the small border city of Del Rio and in my mind we'd crossed Texas. Granted there's still a lot more Texas to the west. But the fact that we had a western border with Mexico just made it feel like we'd finished the crossing. Del Rio is a sleepy littly city of about 42,000 having a very deep Spanish heritage. I'm sure if it weren't for the fact that Laughlin AFB is located a mere 6 miles down the road, the town would only exist as a one of those small, nearly abandoned desert communities. But it thrives, complete with hotels, motel, large grocery stores, and, of course, Wal-Mart. As this was to be the last sizable town we'd see for about 3 weeks, we took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on supplies.

Just west of Del Rio is Lake Amistad, one of the late 1960's joint U.S./Mexico border water projects. The dam sits across the Rio Grande river and creates a bridge between the U.S. and Mexico. In the middle of the bridge stands two 20 ft. tall bronze eagle statues, the American and Mexican symbols. Funny how both countries use eagles. There were two minor design changes incorporated in the name of "peace"; the Mexican eagle's head was turned opposite normal to face the U.S. and the U.S. eagle has only the olive branch, no arrows. Despite all this pomp and symbolism we had to wonder just how easy it was to get the dam built. I imagine a certain number of construction dollars had to be allocated to Mexican and U.S. firms. Language barriers, philosophical differences of both country and company, political differences. Must have been quite a management nightmare for whomever was in charge. Yet, the project was completed, dedicated by our then president Nixon and his Mexican counterpart, and the result is the fifth largest manmade lake in the country.

Even though the dam may have created a great new lake and recreation area, it also may have caused the loss of some beautiful prehistoric rock paintings hidden in the clif side caves. Fortunately, many paintings were located just above the high water line and are still available for public viewing. At Seminole Canyon State Historic Site for a nominal charge of $2 you can tag along after the volunteer campground hosts/tour guides for a very informative tour of two of the cave shelters. There you see a myriad of figures painted on the walls using the minerals found in the rocks. Reds, whites, blacks, and yellows seem to be the predominant color and the themes have been interpreted to be about various religious aspects of their lives. A predominant figure appearing time and again was the shaman. Imagine a figure with a long trapezoidal body, short stalky legs coming from the small, bottom side of the trapezoid, two outstretched or curved arms from the top two corners, and a mound like head sometimes sporting deer antlers. The shamans bodies were often multicolored with a black line down the middle appearing almost as though you were looking through to his backbone. Our tourguide, Paul, asked, "Is this the representation of an out of body experience?"

Many other figures were fairly easy to recognize like arrows aimed at deer heads. "Could this be the symbol of a good hunt?" Paul asked. Others were just bizarre drawings which defy exact explanation. Red and black blobs with spikey looking lines look something like the prickly pear cactus. A square with two diagonal lines coming out of the bottom look like a modern TV. And wavey red and black lines might represent fire, the barrier to the other side, or many numerous other things.

I did note that these symbols seem quite different from those found in the cliff dwellings of Arizona and New Mexico. First they seem more rigid, drawn with straight lines. There were no swirls and helixes. The shaman were straighter as opposed to figures like the hunchedbacked flute player of the Hopi. And there were no Petrogliphs (drawings etched into the stone rather than painted). It turns out these paintings were made much earlier than those in Arizona, probably some 5 to 10 thousand years ago. They are termed as prehistoric as there is little information available about these early people.

But back to more modern times, just a few more miles down Rt 90 we came across the law offices of the late honorable Judge Roy Bean, also known as the Jersey Lily Saloon. Back in the 1890's Roy Bean came to west Texas and settled on a small spit of land right on the Southern Pacfic Railroad right-of-way. He claims to have named the town Langtry in honor of the English actress Lily Langtry upon whom he had quite a crush. In reality the town was named for one of the railroad foremen. The state of Texas needed some lawful representative in the area and since Bean was one of the few educated businessmen around, he got the job. So the front porch or his bar counter served as the courtroom.

Now Bean was quite a scoundrel. Since the town had no jail, he would impose healthy fines for every guilty verdict. Naturally, he'd pocket the fines. I guess you could call it court fees. Also, in February 1892 he outsmarted the Texas authorities by sponsoring a world champion boxing match on a small sandbar on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. Texas had banned boxing. Yet since the match was held on Mexican soil, the authorities couldn't do naught to stop it. The match ended in a short 2 min and 38 seconds with a knockout. And he had no qualms about telling someone, anyone, where to go. He once told the Governor of Texas to mind his business in Austin and he'd (Bean) mind the business of everything west of the Pecos. After all he was the "law west of the Pecos".

Judge Roy Bean died in the pool room of his saloon on March 16, 1903 and was buried in Del Rio. Within the next year his lifelong dreamgirl, Lily Langtry, finally came to the town of Langtry to meet the man who'd written all those nice letters and because she thought the town was named for her. Too late though, Bean was gone.

West of Del Rio and Comstock, Rt 90 becomes incredibly desolate, 88 miles limited services to the town of Sanderson, 54 miles no services to Marathon. Brown, brittle hills dotted with specs of green desert shrubs line the roads. And fences. miles upon miles of barbedwire fences line both sides of the road. Nowhere have we seen so many miles of fenced in property. Occasional "no tresspassing" signs make it clear you're not to cross over the fence. This is land where ranches are the size of counties. They often extend for hundreds of miles, and since there is no longer free range in Texas, they have to fence all this land in. How'd you like to have the corner on the barbed wire market in this area?

Camping was becoming incredibly more difficult to find. The RV park in Sanderson specifically says "no tents". So after a tough 82 mile ride we took a motel room for the night. The next day, with a howling headwind we crawled halfway to the town of Marathon hoping to find the small campground promised in our ACA map. No such luck. The log cabin style store/office showed no signs of recent occupancy. Miscellaneous rocks and bones each sporting a price tag were strewn across the spacious front porch. Who in the world would pay 50 cents for a silly rock? Inside lay cups on the counter, a stuffed Garfield very much faded by the sun was suctioned onto the door, and old ice machines littered the back of the building. It looks to have been a reasonable business at one time, but now it's gone for good. But, thinking about it further, it was an RV park with minimal facilities, a small store, and restaurant. They did not sell gas. Being so close to Marathon and Big Bend most people would just go right on by. No reason to stop. I'm sure if they had sold gas they would have fared much better. Well, we needed to stop someplace for the night and the porch was a nice place to get out of the wind and the stickers on the door said "Welcome bike tourists." So we took this as an invitation to stay despite they're being closed for business.

As we sat on the front porch of our borrowed campground, the last traces of pink disappearing in the western sky, the colors of the desert gave way to white, black, and every conceivable shade of gray. The sharp lines are softened by the monochrome of the night. As we enjoyed the quiet evening I couldn't help but recall the parting words from the Moody Blues song, Nights in White Satin -

Cold hearted orb that rules the night. Removes the colors from our sight Red is gray and yellow white But, we determine which is right And which is an illusion.

WIND - Wind, wind, wind. It seems that as soon as we left the trees and hit the desert we hit winds. Mostly headwinds. One thing we have discovered about the Plaines and deserts of the north American continent is that there is always winds with speeds of 10 to 25 mph. After a while I find I can't stand wind anymore. The continual shushing in my ears, the battering of the tent rainfly, and the difficult riding and controlling the bike begin to really wear. I have concluded that should we ever settle down in one spot again, it will most certainly not be in a place that gets so much wind.

The tiny desert town of Marathon is one of those sleepy, dusty, and dry little places in which most buildings appear bland and lifeless. It has two motels, 4 RV parks, a couple gas stations, a small grocery, one church, and a few odds and ends of other businesses. The only building having any sort of character was the mission style Gage motel. Kind of an oasis in this dusty town.

It was in marathon that we met Madam Dragonfly, at least that's what I called her. One of the most cold, heartless, suspicious, argumentative people we've ever met. After learning that the showers at the very nice Marathon motel and Rv park were down for repairs for a few days, we wandered down the street looking for another place to stay. The Big Bend RV Park seemed to be the only option that had showers. We hadn't had showers for a couple of days and were real anxious to clean both us and our riding clothes. But, this place was a real dump. The "RV" park consisted of a weed infested dirt lot with a few electric and water hook-up spots. No picnic tables no trees, no greenery. We figured, Oh well, it'd be cheap.

Knocking on the door it was answered by this old woman with blue eyes as cold as steel, a face so wrinkled even her ear lobes and the tip of her nose sported tremendous crevices, and wearing a tattered house dress at 1 in the afternoon. She eyed us with deep suspicion and asked, "What do you want?" When we told her we were looking for a tent site, she hesitated, then blurted out, "Five dollars to pitch a tent." We were relieved for a second. Then, "Two dollars each for showers." Well, it was kinda high, but as Brian pointed out we've paid as much for even worse places. So we took it.

She instructed us to set up the tent around back, next to the building near the doors. The building was L shaped, so we started to tuck the tent right within the L out of the wind, on the only grass like spot around. Soon she comes out and with a real gruff voice, almost yelling, told us that wasn't what she meant. No nicely saying we misunderstood and could we please move. Not from this little sweetheart.

Well, we weren't feeling all that great about the whole thing, but figured we wouldn't have to deal with her again. We'd leave early in the morning before she got up. So we pitched the tent and wandered over to the grocery to get lunch supplies. Upon returning, we took showers and I started rinsing some of our riding clothes to get some of the ever present salt out. Soon she comes storming in again wondering what we were doing and why we were waking her up in the middle of the afternoon of all things. Now when she saw the clothes being rinsed she literally went ballistic. Evidently there was a sign in the bathroom, turned upside-down, that said no washing clothes, dishes, or anything else in the sinks. She was all upset that we had used some of her precious water. We tried to promise we'd stop, but she went on about how we'd come and taken over the place and we now owed her $1.50 more. She even pulled out her water bill showing us that for just her she pays $1 per day. Now, we had just given her $4 for water and showers, and $5 just to pitch a tent. We felt that more than paid for a few gallons of water to rinse our clothes. We refused to pay, but didn't leave either. Fortunately she dropped it at that point, after giving us a very bad impression of her hospitality, and we didn't see her again.

It occurred to us that this was one very unhappy lady. Why else would she treat her clients so shabbily. She was trying to sell the place, fat chance I'd say. But, we still couldn't help but wonder if she was so miserable with running an RV park, why not take the sign down and go out of business. All I know is, next time we get a bad feeling from an RV park owner, we'll go elsewhere even if it means wild camping out in the woods or desert. We're just so glad that 99% of the people we meet aren't anything like our Madam Dragonfly. Also, everyone else we met in Marathon was actually quite nice, from the lady at the post office who we visited 3 times, the lady at the grocery who put a 2 liter bottle of soda in the cooler for us, and the man running for sheriff who handed us a couple of nail files. So I wouldn't say skip Marathon, just don't go near the Big Bend RV Park.

We did meet a couple of bike travelers in Marathon which gave us someone to talk to for the afternoon. They were a young Jewish couple who had spent the last month down in Big Bend riding the dirt roads. They were going to catch the 3AM bus and head for Cleveland and then Washington D.C. before heading to Isreal to start a new life. Their equipment was most fascinating. Obviously working on a real shoestring budget, they managed to jerryrig all sorts of interesting things. Their rear panniers, if you can call them that, were actually large plastic tubs that originally contained frozen food for a restaurant or some other institution. Being Jewish, their eating habits were very particular. As we talked they pulled out a duct taped pot in which they had been soaking beans. Cranking up an old, finicky Coleman stove they threw the pot on, added a bunch of spices, and a bunch of garlic. I must admit, I had noticed a pungent order around them and was trying to recall where I had smelled it before. When I saw the garlic I knew, Korea where they absolutely love their garlic and everyone reeks with garlic smell. They finally added brown rice to their concoction. I did wonder just how much nutritional value they would get without adding some veggies. They were extremely nice and gave us lots of good information about Big Bend, such as letting us know that we can indeed take our bikes to the primitive camp sites which proved useful the next day. But we simply couldn't imagine touring with them for any length of time. Their super tight shoestring budget would drive us nuts. But we really did admire the fact that they are pursuing their dreams even with essentially no cash.

To get to a campground with water and toilets in Big Bend National Park requires riding 69 miles south, descending and then reclimbing 1500 ft, turning left, and then riding another 20 miles to the Rio Grande Village. Being over 80 miles, we knew there would be no way we could get there before the camp sites filled for the night. So we took advantage of the information provided by the Jewish couple and picked up a primitive site permit for Nugent Mountain at the Persimmon Gap entrance station. Continuing south, secure in the knowledge that we had a place to stay, we could relax and concentrate on the spectacular views developing all around us. The Chisos mountains loomed, jagged and blue just in front of us as we climbed to Panther Junction. The Dark peaks sharply contrasted against the bluest desert sky were breathtaking. The Chisos were created during the same uplifting that created the Rocky mountain range. We would return to the Chisos for some hiking after taking a few days rest down by the Rio Grande.

Turning left and heading downhill once again we were treated to a view of the sharp limestone cliff making up the Sierra del Carmen rising over 5000 ft in the air and many miles wide. Their multi colored stripes all laid down horizontally during the time when this region was a great ocean. The ridge was uplifted at the same time as the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast. Then when the east and west tectonic plates started to move apart, the section where the Rio Grande village now lies, broke away from the uplifted section and sank, much like the paint on an inflating balloon cracks (information provided at one of the nightly slide shows). The result is the most stunning landscape. As we pulled our bikes into our little primitive site on the side of Nugent Mountain having a grand view of the ridge, we couldn't help but feel that it all looked so unreal. More like a painting from someone's imagination rather than true life. But it was all there, just for us to enjoy for a while.

One more cold front was blowing down from the north bringing howling northerly cold winds. Being on the side of the mountain, totally exposed to the wind and cold since there were no trees or rock outcroppings, we struggled to set up the tent and make dinner. It was during this test of wills with mother nature that Tory drove up in his little red pickup. He also had a permit for the Nugent Mountain primative site.

Tory, a tall, thin man in his mid twenties of Asian descent, was one very laid back, easygoing guy. Since graduating from Northwestern University several years earlier he had taken on the approach of working just long enough to make enough money to get by for a while. Then he'd take off on some hiking, backpacking adventure until his money ran out. Many of his jobs were with the U.S. forest service, seasonal type positions I guess. In his off times he had managed to hike the entire Pacific Crest and Appalchian trails. His next goal was to complete the Continental Divide trail. But, for now he was spending time in Big Bend awaiting an opportunity to go work for a friend down in Mexico doing some acheological work. Each evening he'd find a new primative site to stay in, drive up in his truck, climb in the back cab where he had a heater and light, and spend the night. Durng the day he often frequented the Rio Grande village where he got supplies, took showers, did laundry, and basically hung around talking to others who were doing something similar. With free lodging every night, his living expenses must be incredibly low. We admired his attitude. He's taking life one day at a time and really enjoying himself now before he gets into the kind of life that has commitments. He's self sufficient, has few needs, and manages to get by on what little income he earns. There'll be time enough for getting serious about a career later. Sometimes I wished I done something similar at that age. But, I suppose better late than never.

Appendix A - Route


Back roads Blanco to Kendalia RT473 to Comfort Rt 27 to Kerrville Rt 27 and Rt 39 to Hunt Rt 39 to 187 to Vanderpool Rt 337 to Camp Wood Rt 69 to Montell Rt 334 to Brackettville Rt 90 to Marathon Rt 385 to Panther Junction Left turn to Rio Gande Village

Appendix B - Camp sites, 5


RV USA in Comfort ($), Americamp in Kerrrville ($), Lost Maples State Rec Area ($), Welsch's feed store and RV park in Camp Wood, Ft. Clark campground 2 nights ($), American RV Park Del Rio ($), Seminole Canyon State Historic Site 2 nights ($), Sanderson Motel ($), Tha Hills RV park, Big Bend RV Park Marathon ($), Nugent Mountain Primitive site in Big Bend

($) indicates fee camping


Copyright 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.



We'd like to thank my father, Charles Johnson, whose diligent mail forwarding and other logistical support make this journey far easier than it could be otherwise.


Wendy Strutin Riedy for archiving the newsletters on her WWW site,

Return to Out There Living