Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 18:00:24 -0500
Copyright (c) 1996 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.
Chapter 17 - Mar. 1 - Mar. 14 Rio Grande Village, Big Bend, TX to Ft. Davis, TX - 6430 miles cumulative
The Rio Grande village is located in the low lands between the grand Chisos mountains and the Sierra del Carmen in Mexico. The village, if you can call it that, consists of a tiny store/gas station, park employees quarters, a parking lot having hook-ups for RVs, and a 100 or so site campground. I guess by National Park standards this qualifies as a village. The flat lands used to be part of a fairly large ranch/farm. In the early 1900s the rancher built a series of canals to divert water to his fields. The canals are still in use today to provide water to the campground. Scars from other irrigation ditches in what used to be his fields are clearly visible from the top of the surrounding hills. The campground, located right on the Rio Grande river, is one of the few lush green places in the park, due in part to the continued irrigation. Huge cottonwood and water hog tamarisk trees planted during the ranching days to provide some shade line the camp sites. There's also green grass between the rows. Although the grass comes at a price. Each day the park employees open the gates to flood another section of grass. If you're not aware of this you could be caught in the middle of the night with your tent sitting in 8 inches of water. This happened at our site the second day of our visit. Suddenly we went from grass property to a view of a shallow lake. We had been warned and the tent was high and dry. It was actually quite pretty. The shallow water tended to stay quite calm giving the appearance of a huge mirror tucked among the cottonwoods, mesquites, picnic tables, RVs and tents. Herds of Javalinas roamed the campground of night along with a coyote or two and a mountain lion. The javalina is a short, scrawny, black, hairy, pig like creature that has small cloven hooves that click and clatter on the rock roads. They do like to get into human food, but unlike the racoon these pigs will leave you alone once you've given them a good yelling at.
Our side of the camp was the more quiet as it was the "No Generator Zone". Sounds erie, "welcome to the Nooooo Generator Zone". At this point the campers were still mostly from the retiree set. But, being early March, we started seeing the beginnings of the college spring break crowd. Canoe groups from the local schools were staying way back in the tenting area. We weren't looking forward to the second and third weeks in March when the "zoo" as one ranger called it, begins.
Every now and then on our journies we happen to meet a very special person who touches our lives in a very unique way. Ron Cross was destined to become one of those people. As we sat by our little tent, relaxing after many days of hard riding, up pulls one of those enormous 35 ft fifth wheels followed by a tiny Toyota RV. Out of the Toyota hops a tiny woman with short black/gray hair. Elaine, Ron's girlfriend for the past 3 years directed him into the site. With the touch of a couple buttons to level his rig and extend the side pull-out, Ron had made himself at home. Elaine had pulled into another site nearby. Ron then went around to his "neighbors" to get acquainted.
I must admit, I didn't quite know what to make of this extremely bold, 75 year old with sparkling blue eyes, wild gray hair and full beard. Except for a slightly enlarged belly he was actually in remarkably good shape. But before long his open and generous personality grew on us and we felt as though we had met a long lasting friend. Ron is the kind of guy who has led an extremely full and active life. He fought in WWII in Belgium during the battle of the bulge, has degrees in architecture, management, and law enforcement, worked various jobs including a police officer in charge of criminal investigations. He'd been shot, stabbed, had a heart attack, anurism, dislocated and replaced shoulder, broken pelvic bone, and most recently a broken foot 3 times in one year. But as he says, "I keep surviving so the good Lord must have something in mind for me." He told us that one day while lying under a jeep in Belgium he told the Lord that if he survived he'd spend the rest of his life doing good for others. We both firmly believe he has done his absolute utmost to do just that.
A prime example of his love of giving was the care he gave for his late wife. Dying of cancer, he stayed by her side day in and day out for five years. His care was so intensive that even one of the nurses helping with his wife wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper talking about it. It's an article he proudly and rightfully brings out whenever the opportunity arises. As he talks about his wife you can see that her death affected him deeply and he really misses her. Personally I think his wife was such a fortunate person to have a wonderful, loving husband like him. To bad many marriages don't end after 40 years in a similar state.
Ron's generosity will extend to anyone as long as he feels you are in need, appreciate the gift, are deserving, and haven't made him mad. He told us of how, after essentially offering to buy a small house for his older son, his son's wife made the comment that she wouldn't be caught dead in that particular house. I guess it was a small, starter home that probably needed a little work. But, for her to say something like that when Ron was essentially ready and willing to sign the papers to give her the home was totally inexcusible. He told her where to go in no uncertain terms and hasn't been on speaking terms with her since.
Gratefully accepted and totally unexpected, Ron's generosity even extended to us. He had us over for dinner for a huge absolutely wonderful platter of pot roast, potatoes, and carrots. He then left us with a frozen steak, onions, pepper, tomatoes, Ceasar salad fixins, eggs, rolls, bread, potatoes, and a bunch of Lipton rice and noodle mixes. We had expected to spend our week in Big Bend living on essentially rice, noodles, canned tuna, chicken, ham, and vienna sausages, Underwood sandwich spreads, and oatmeal. As it turned out we had three days of some of the best meals we'd seen in quite some time. To top it off he handed Brian a $10 bill saying we should go out to eat on him. Now we tend to feel uncomfortable taking someone's money. But when Brian tried to give it back, he simply exchanged it for a $20. Brian finally accepted that before Ron had the chance to exchange it for anything higher. But, you could tell that Ron got so much pleasure from giving. His eyes lit up and a big smile came across his face as he knew we'd be getting some really good meals for a while. He says he has plenty of money and at this stage of his life he has no need for more things, wealth, or property. So for him the biggest pleasure he now gets is in giving it away. As we sat down to our steak dinner one night and delicious vege omelet the next morning, we both knew that this wonderful man that so reminds me of an in-the-flesh Santa would forever remain in our hearts. He had accomplished what he set out to do. He will be remembered for his generous, good deeds. We hope we can meet up with him again someday. But we will definitly keep him informed of our travels.
For our last day in Rio Grande village we took a walk to Mexico. Down the road about 2 miles, catching a row boat ride for $2 across the Rio Grande, and then a short 1 mile walk up a sandy, dusty road brings you to the tiny town of Boquillas. You can take the short trip on the back of a burro or pick-up truck if you're so inclined. But walking is our second favorite mode of transportation.
Back in the 1800s Boquillas was a booming mining town with a grand population of about 1,000. Now its 25 families rely on dollars from the Big Bend tourists for their survival. A quiet town with small adobe brick buildings that are just as dusty and brown as the surrounding hills, an adobe catholic church, light blue school house, and a small gift shop/taco stand. The best buildings in town were the welcome center, school, and gift shop. The rest seemed to be adobe buildings that were in various states of disrepair. An attempt to create a nice town park/square lay overlooking the river. A concrete patio with broken benches and nice decorative lamps on which most of the glass bulbs were gone provided the only really modern appearing spot in town. Being Mexico, the locals paid no head to litter control or landscape design and the town has no public electricity. But we did notice that each building sported its very own solar panel. For what? lights? TV? We don't know.
The inhabitants sell all sorts of things, especially rocks. Purple, blue, white, pink, and almost every color rock under the sun. The gift store was stocked from floor to ceiling with the usual embroidered cotton dresses, leather shoes and sandles, sombreros, colorful rattles, painted wood bowls, platters, and boxes, rainbow striped serapes, and scorpions creatively wound from lengths of copper wire. Of course the small children are quick to seek you out to see if you want to buy a rock, modern Indian arrowhead, woven bracelet, or any number of small trinket they can carry on a small piece of cardboard. Our interest was only in getting a few tacos, some cervesa, and a nice wander around the town. So after a few failed attempts, kids left us to our musings.
Most of our experiences with Mexico have been with the grungy border towns of Tiajuana and Ensenada. Both are hustling, bustling cities that really do a job trying to bilk the rich Gringo tourist out of his hard earned dollars. This nice quiet town where, after about a half hour, you could wander without being acosted at every corner, was a welcome change. Don't get me wrong. It still was dingy and dirty as most poor Mexican villages are. But it was so nice to be able to wander in relative freedom. We expect if we ride through lower Baja and the mainland next winter we'll find the true Mexico will be much more like this town. We look forward to it.
Going to Rio Grande village is a dead end road of 20 miles with a 2000 ft drop. So, of course, going over to the other side of the park requires retracing that 20 miles and 2000 ft altitude change. This is where we really appreciated the primitive, drive/bike up sites thay have in the park. We passed Panther Junction and the road up to Chisos Basin, headed another 3 miles down the paved road, and then turned right, into the desert. Actually we were on the old dirt Paint Gap road. Up about a mile was our tent site for the next two nights, Paint Gap 1. As far as primitive camping goes, it wasn't much. Just an open spot in the desert looking like someone cleared a small spot of the spikey, thorney plants just enough for a tent. But the views were incredible. We had front seats to a nightly show of beautiful firey sunsets put on just for the two of us. Then, as the sun gently slipped below the horizon leaving a train of crimmson, pink, and peach feather duster clouds behind, the full moon would peak above the mountains in the east. assuring us of a night filled with its soft glow. Mountains siloetted against a deep blue night ski surrounded us. The only sign of other human inhabitants were the occasional lights from cars passing on the road over 1 mile away. Even these appeared to go in an unusual slow motion with absolutely no sound. As if they were determined not to disturb our solitude. It was so peaceful. Like we had stepped off of this woefully overpopulated planet for just a few hours and we were the only ones living on some new world.
Morning brought the roasting sun, but we were up early with the idea of heading to the Chisos Basin for the day. The Chisos mountains are truly wierd, I guess that's the best word for them. They were actually formed from ancient volcanoes. Several volcanic peaks formed in this one spot as the earth separated forming the Sierra Del Carmen and the Sierra Ponce. What's so strange is how isolated they are. I couldn't help but imagine a gigantic molar (tooth) stuck in the sand painted with a little green, and voila you've got the Chisos. Being the only mountains with real pine trees around, they are a mecca for hikers and backpackers. There are loads of trails and backcountry camping sites. And, believe it or not, bear country rules apply. Yes, in 1989 the Mexican black bear migrated north to repopulate this region.
Our hikes were short, primarily consisting of a 6 mile excursion to what they call the "window", the only location in the crown of this molar where water can escape. Mostly we sat on benches staring at the mountain scenery or exploring the mountain lodge area watching the backpackers prepare for their forays into the wilderness. Six hours in the mountains were surely not enough to really get to know them. But we did have to get back to our corner of the desert before sundown. Thank goodness it was a long downhill ride all the way.
Our final stop in Big Bend National Park, this is one large park, was the Cottonwood campground and the old town of Castolon. Cottonwood proved to be a much more screne campground than Rio Grande. It had only about 20 sites, no hook-ups, and just chemical toilets. The people it tended to attract were what I'd call the more active and outdoors types. Lots of tenters, lots of canoers, and lots of bikers. This must be mountain biker paradise as almost everyone had a mountain bike or two attached to their car in some precarious manner. There were few RVs and those that were there tended to be of the smaller variety, except for the campground host of course. We really liked it.
However, our first night there we were subjected to one of the strangest weather events we'd ever experienced. The evening was still and warm. Nothing was stirring, which should have been our warning. The sky had been gradually clearing before night set in. We had just finished a grand meal of some chili mixed with macaronni and cheese, hey I did mention how limited the supplies were here, and were heating water for coffee and tea. I was reading a sci fi book from my favorite book supplier, Chris, and Brian was finally finishing his P.J O'Roarke book. All was quiet, too quiet.
Suddenly we were hit by a blast of wind, and another, and another. In fact, a cold front had just hit and we'd see these winds through to the morning. But for the moment we were in quite a fix. All our dirty pots, pans, dishes, books, coffee, tea, sweetner, and all sorts of stuff lay scattered all over the picnic table or should I say all over the campground. For when that first blast hit, everything went flying. While Brian valiantly tried to gather up what was left and hold it down, I ran all over grabbing what I could find and stuffing it into the tent. The wind continued to roar and the running around took about a half hour. We did manage to find everything and even got the dishes washed in the process. But, it was a cold front we shall not soon forget.
With winter temperatures once again hounding us, we spent our last day in Big Bend exploring the old town of Castolon. The buildings were actually constructed by the U.S. cavalry in the 1915-1919 times and later purchased for use as a farm, homes, and store. The cavalry were brought to the area to defend the settlers against Pancho Villa's Mexican bandits during the Mexican revolution. Evidentally bandits, either associated with Pancho Villa or not, had been making periodic raids against the farmers and merchants along the border. The settlers finally got sufficiently frustrated to ask the U.S. government for help, and they responded with the cavalry. Brian spent this time recalling tales from his grandfather who was a member of the cavalry chasing Pancho Villa. Perhaps his footsteps are lurking around the old town of Castolon.
Despite being a cavelry outpost, most of the buildings in Castolon were never actually occupied by troops. It turns out the Mexican revolution ended before they were fully occupied. Consequently they were sold to local settlers. Most of the buildings in Castolon were eventually turned over to the Park Service for their use. But the old Castolon store still remains. The building, originally intended to be barracks for the troops, is long and narrow. Inside there is still a small store operated by the consessionar for Big Bend. Yet the old, small town store feel still exists. There are no aisles of goods stacked up for you to wander by and peruse. Instead there is a long wooden counter. Most everything is behind the counter. To look, touch, and feel you have to ask the store clerk to hand it over to you. Yet, this was the way many stores operated back then. In fact, I still remember similar arrangements for fabric and other goods in the town where I was raised. So in a sense, it was rather nostalgic for me to see this type of store once again. Certainly this was no Kmart.
Well, spring break was about to happen and the park would become a real zoo, so with much regrets we concluded it was time for us to leave. Getting to the Cottonwood campground was a difficult ride over some 15% grades and some 6 miles of roadway under construction, dirt and gravel. We did not relish the idea of retracing our steps over that stuff. The only other alternative was to tackle the 13 miles of the dirt Old Maverick road leading directly to the park's west entrance. So we bounced, boggled, and bumped along this highly washboarded road uphill, into a headwind. Basically the only thing that could have made the ride any more difficult would be temperatures in the 100s. Instead a cold artic wind blew against us all day long. I've come up with what I call an effective distance in an effort to measure the amount of energy that is needed to ride on a day like this. It is a comparison with a ride on flat roads with no wind where we can cruise along at about 12 mph. This was a no. 3 difficulty road. Divide our flat distance in 1 hour by 3 and you've got the distance we can cover on this road. It's a way of keeping our expected riding distance in perspective.
Saturday, March 9 was my, ahem, thirty something birthday and we spent the day taking a slow and easy ride from Study Butte over to the Terlingua ghost town. This wasn't a gold mining area. In fact, back in the early 1900s they mined Cinnabar which was processed for mercury. They were quite profitable until a chain of events destroyed both the mercury prices and the mines. The mines flooded and an old mercury import embargo was lifted resulting in a huge influx of mercury from foreign sources. The bottom fell out of the market, the mines closed, and the town was essentially abandoned. But during the 1920s the town supported over 2,000 miners and was the largest mercury producing mine in the world.
Today the town is sort of hanging on as headquarters for some river rafting adventure organizations, one very large gifty/crafty shop, and a late night theatre/bar. The gift shop actually was quite a surprise. Looking like little more than a small adobe building from the outside, the amount of goods contained in the one large and four smaller rooms was quite large. Lots of good things to look at but not buy. Too heavy for bike touring. Lots of gray/brown crumbling adobe buildings dot the landscape. Some of the better ones have been partly restored and people have taken up residence in them. Although they look a little dangerous to me. The largest house on the hill, originally owned by the mine's owner, has one entire wall supported by an angled telephone bolted to its side. Yet, there's someone living in it. Most buildings, however, are just those funny, melted looking walls that most adobe turns into when not properly maintained. The dirt and clay used to form the brickss oh so quick to return to its natural state. Lots of scraps of metal. pieces of ceramic, papers, and other things used in the mining business littered the ground everywhere. Imagine if you were a seaker of antiquities or an archeologist interested in mines of the early 20s or just a big kid who loves searching for buried treasure. This place could provide months of exciting looking.
The characters hanging around around the store seemed to fit in with old ghost town turned canoe/gift shop town atmosphere. Appearing to be a permenant fixture on the front porch with long graying hair and beard, pot bellies, and a bottle of beer afixed to one hand at all times, the men looked like old 1960s hippies who, despite their protestations of the old days, had turned into the "good ole boys" of the 90s. What they did on a daily basis was sit on this front porch and occasionally go out on a river rafting tour. Not much else. A real laid back life. The women had the long flowing skirts, sandals, and long hair of the "flower power" generation. Only now there were a few children tagging along. So much for freedom doing "your own thing". Child rearing responsibilities take priority. It's funny, I've often wondered how the 1960s antiestablishment generation reacted when they suddenly discovered that they were now the establishment. I always was part of the establishment. So I never had to go through such an attitude adjustment.
Getting away from the Big Bend area back to Rt 90 at Alpine proved to be a lot more difficult than getting to Big Bend in the first place. Looking at a map of Texas, you'd see that for the 79 miles between Study Butte and Alpine there is absolutely nothing. No towns, no crossroads, nothing but a few ranches and one motel just 18 miles north of Study Butte. What the map doesn't show is the altitude change. With both steep and gradual climbs all the way, we estimated the total climb for the day to be around 3500 ft. Now 79 miles and 3500 ft climb in itself would make for one long tough day. But, I was also having one of those "bad hair" days. After just the first six miles I felt totally exhausted and thought there was no way I'd make it the remaining 73. Perhaps my Yin and Yang were out of sync or my sinusoidal biorythms were all at a low or maybe it was just the daunting idea of another 73 miles of uphill riding. For some reason for the rest of the day I could barely force one leg up at a time, struggling all the way with the oh so tempting thought of simply pulling over and finishing the ride tomorrow, manana.
Pulling over, though, just simply was not an option. For nearly all of those 79 miles, barbed wire fences lined the road a mere 16 feet away from the edge of the shoulder. Pulling over would have meant essentially sleeping at the side of the road with no trees, rocks, or anything for shelter other than our tent. We'd also be sleeping on some rather sizable rocks or other spikey thorny things. We have to keep chuckling about this fence phenomenon, though. In Del Rio a woman told us about the rain god statue in Mexico that was behind a fence, naturally causing the drought currently being experienced in Texas. She says, "This is Texas. So don't fence me in." Rather ironic considering the milage of fencing we've seen.
We were told by one woman that, in addition to needing the fencing to keep in cattle, the ranchers also need the fences to keep out a rather unique form of criminal called "cactus rustlers." That's right. Forget the cattle. Leave the sheep. Those cactus are so easy to get since they don't run when you chase and you get a boatload of money from people looking to landscape their yards. This woman told us how people were coming onto her property and hauling away huge boulders, cactus, trees, and just about anything they could get their hands on. She finally had to put up "no tresspassing" signs and call in the cops. So once again a few unscrupulous thieves ruin it for the rest of us and make it extremely difficult for us bike tourists.
After such a long, tough ride we can hardly begin to describe my feelings when we finally spot that "Reduced speed ahead" sign. Relief, exhaustion, elation, triumph all rolled into one. At 6 PM we saw the sign for Apline. This long, tough day was over at last and it was time for rest.
Alpine, proud home of the Sul Ross State University founded in the 1920s for training teachers for west Texas, is a town of about 5000 people and has the most number of services we'd seen since Del Rio. Many motels, restaurants, discount stores, a decent sized grocery store, barber shop, bank, even a train depot for Amtrak. We ended up staying for two days taking our time getting resupplied with food, reviewing our equipment and shipping another box off to San Diego to pick up later, replacing worn out clothes, getting hair cuts, money, wandering around, and visiting the free museum of the Big Bend (you get what you pay for in this case). People in town were exceptionally friendly. The Danny Boy RV Park owner was real nice as long as you followed his rules. Otherwise watch out. One large RV pulled in a bit too fast for his liking, so he told the driver he was full for the night. The artist/part time barber cutting our hair told us all sorts of things about the area. And one old man at the barber shop had a great time with us and our computer.
As I sat waiting for my turn at the barber's chair working on this newsletter, his aged blue eyes looked over my shoulder and he asked, "Just what are you doing." I tried to explain how we write newsletters about our travels and send them on the Net to a bunch of folks. But he just said, "I don't know anything about that stuff and I don't care to know." "Well", I explained, "It's certainly not for everyone." He turns out to be a former railroad employee. Severe arthritis has put him on permenant dissability. So now he owns rental property. He still does a little woodworking, but has to stop every 10 minutes for a break. Sure makes one appreciate having good health.
Rested and restocked, we rode over the hill to the town of Fort Davis where we'd visit the fort of Fort Davis. Fort Davis was estabished in 1854 to protect travelers on the Overland Road going from San Antonio to El Paso. Evidentally the Apache and Commanche had discovered that a great way to get horses, food, and other supplies was simply by raiding the wagon trains full of emmigrants. So the fort was created and the cavalry would send troops out on patrol to try to capture Indians or protect the wagons.
Fort Davis, named in honor of the then Secretary of War and future confederate President Jefferson Davis. was located on the Limpia creek at the mouth of Hospital canyon where there was a good supply of water, wood, and grasses for the horses. But, there actually were two forts at this location. The first was occupied by federal troops from 1854 to 1861 when the start of the Civil War forced its abandonment. Confederate troops moved in for the following year, but they found they spent more time dealing with Apaches than Union troops. So they left and the fort sat abondoned for 5 years.
In 1867 once again Federal troops were sent to reactivate the fort. But upon arrival they found the buildings looted , decayed, and burned by passing Indian tribes. They weren't well built to begin with, so the deterioration was not unexpected. They immediatly went to work building new barracks, officers quarters, stables, stores, bakeries, privies, everything needed to be essentially self sufficient in the west.
The fort remained active until 1891. The last rebel Apache, Chief Victorio, was killed and the Indian wars of the southwest came to an end. So the fort was declared surplus and deactivated permenantly. In the years between 1891 and 1966 when it became a national park people lived in some of the buildings for a while then a business man bought the structures and did some renovations. Because many of the buildings were either occupied for some time or were renovated, this particular fort is said to be the best perserved in all of the southwest. About half of its 50 some buildings are still standing.
We wandered around the fort for a full day, peeking in doors and windows and asking questions to the employees and volunteers. One woman volunteer had a display of undergarments worn by the upperclass fashionable women of the mid 1800s. Now ladies, picture wearing all this. You start with a cotton under shirt called a chamise, slips over the head and has a tie around the neck. On top of that goes one of those oh so comfortable corsettes. Then another cotton blouse type thing looking a lot like the chamise, but it was the corsette cover. On the lower half you had bloomers with a nice large split right down the middle. Supposedly to let in air, but I think it was more to let them go the bathroom without trying to get totally undressed. Then a slip, and a bustle with those frame like things at the back, and another slip sometimes. Forget about sitting comfortably. You perch yourself on the edge of a chair since the bustle doesn't crush. Finally, we get to the dress. The dresses themselves usually had many, many layers of fabric. Dust ruffles around the bottom, under layers for color, and decorative draping layers on top, bows, sashes, and other trims. We were told it was not uncommon for a woman to be wearing over 40 lbs of clothing at one time. So this easily answers the question of why the practice of a man helping a lady from a car or carriage developed. Imagine trying to get yourself out of this carriage, onto a small step, when the horse may be moving around a bit, with 40 lbs of clothes, not showing your ankles as that was too risque, not being able to see where your feet or legs are. If you didn't have help you'd wind up flat on your face in the dusty street. As I sit in my biking shorts and long sleeved shirt I think, "Woman's clothes have come a long way baby."
The town of Fort Davis came into existance to support the fort, of course. After all, there were certain goods not allowed on the fort grounds that could easily be provided by enterprising merchants parked just outside the fort grounds, wine, women, and song. So many of the buildings date back to the 1800s. The most interesting and unique building was the old jail. Actually the buidling wasn't so unique as it's modern day use. Around 1975 a new jail was built and the old jail was turned into the public library. Now rather than gut the interior of the building, they painted the old jail cells and ceiling silver, mounted shelves on the walls, and added books. So as you sit to read, you are sitting inside one of the tiny cells. I couldn't help but ask the librarian if she would lock in the kids when they get too rowdy. She replied, "It's so tempting sometimes."
Appendix A - Route
Park road from Rio Grande village to Cottonwood Campground Old Mavrick road to Study Butte Rt 118 to Alpine, Ft Davis
Appendix B - Camp sites, motels
Rio Grande Village campground 4 nights ($), Paint Gap Primitive site 2 nights, Cottonwoot campground 2 nights ($), Big Bend Motel and RV Park in Study Butte 2 nights ($), Danny Boy RV Park in Alpine 3 nights ($), Fountaineblue RV Park Ft Davis 2 nights ($)
($) indicates fee camping
Copyright © 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.