Texas VW Classic

All the Texas State Parks nearby were full for the weekend so we scrambled to find a place to park for 2 days. We were told, after the fact, that it was a miracle we were able to get a reservation at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park but somehow we did. And by doing so landed in the middle of the biggest VW rally in Texas.

And we had fun!

We were packed in like sardines and it was noisy as all get out, but we didn’t care.

The crowd was just a bunch of local Texas boys and girls out having a good time. Everyone was friendly and hospitable. Flannel was an acceptable outer wear. I fit in quite well.

People paraded their VW’s around all day and half the night showing them off.

This was not something we would have chosen to do ahead of time but this slice of Americana turned out to be a very memorable event.

Sue got to walk around in a haze of nostalgia remembering the VW’s of her youth.

VW-9

Kickapoo Cavern State Park

No cell service, anemic WiFi, and no trash removal, that’s all the downside (if you can call it that) we can think of for Kickapoo. Sue and I loved this park. It’s a Gem!

Fence

The bathrooms and showers were kept in pristine condition. There are five full hookup sites. There is a guided cave tour on Saturday mornings. The rangers were friendly and helpful. The camp host went out of her way to make sure we were happy.

Group 6

Deer, javelinas, birds galore, few people, and eighteen miles of trails.

 

 

The most amazing thing of all, though, was the bat cave. It is home to over three million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. These bats are considered to be one of the most abundant mammals in North America. That’s something to think about! We drove to the cavern at dusk and on the way we saw clouds of what we thought were flocks of birds. But, no, they were bats!! When we arrived at the cave opening we were greeted by wave after wave of bats leaving the cave for the night. This went on for over an hour. When the bats were finished leaving for their night of hunting, cave swallows flew in for their rest. The smell of the guano was pretty overwhelming.

To borrow a phrase from Arnold Schwarzenegger “we’ll be back“.

Here is a meditation drumming in case you need to calm down after seeing all of those bats! Click here!

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is in the southern part of Texas and is along the border with Mexico. To get there, you have to drive for several hours through uninhabited desert land. When Larry and I drove there, it was about 95 degrees.  Once we entered the park, we still had 40 more miles to go before we would arrive at the campground. As we headed into ever more stark and dry landscape, our moods slowly dropped as we imagined being in Shiny in the full desert sun for four day. We were delightfully surprised when this lovely oasis near the Rio Grande came into sight.

OasisThere was no electricity at the campsite but we were able to generate quite a bit with our solar panels. Alas, on either side of us were two big motor homes and they stayed cool by running their generators constantly. And, one of them had a huge TV screen on the outside of their rig and they watched March Madness basketball games with the volume on. So, needless to say, the feng shui of the site wasn’t the best. We were lucky to be in the shade of a big cottonwood. We had to trust the Fates in the middle of the night when the wind was REALLY BLOWING!

Under the treeThe park was big and raw and beautiful. Some of the rocky landscapes looked like we were on another planet.

We couldn’t help but think about the proposed wall along the border. Many types of animals migrate back and forth on land, air and water. Seemed like the wall would be an ecologic disaster to say the least. We found little walking sticks and wire beaded animals for sale on one of our hikes. Two young men waded across the Rio Grande and up to the items for sale, checked the money box, tidied up the display, and left and waded back across.

On our many hikes, we saw lots of wild life and beautiful spring flowers. It was hard to imagine how such life could exist in such a harsh environment.

We feel so lucky to have these parks in our country and to be able to have so much fun in them!

the wall

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

volcano and treeThe Guadalupe Mountains are among the best examples of a marine fossil reef. Isn’t that amazing? These mountains are in the Chihuahuan Desert in the southwest corner of Texas. This planet is an amazing place!

mountainsThese lands were originally inhabited by the Nde (Mescalero Apache). As settlers headed west, the area became sought after because of the nearby springs. In 1849, the US Army began a campaign against the Nde that lasted 30 years. In the midst of this conflict, Butterfield Stage Coaches began carrying mail through the mountains on the nation’s first transcontinental mail route.

The Park was beautiful and wild and rough and interspersed, for me, with sadness at the thought of the genocide that was committed there.

We took some really great hikes and enjoyed learning about the area.

The night sky was filled with stars. The camping section was a little less than ideal. We were all smashed into one parking lot and there really weren’t enough places for everyone.

parkingWe felt badly for folks arriving in the evening and finding that there wasn’t any room for them. The nearest other campgrounds were about 30 miles away in Carlsbad. We did meet a nice couple who own an Airstream who live in Lubec, Maine.  On the last morning, I watched as a young mom hid Easter eggs for her kids. Home is where you make it!

eggs

Brantley Lake State Park

Our first impression as we drove into Brantley Lake State Park was that it was an ugly place. It turned out to be the Ugly Duckling of our trip. We stayed 5 nights the longest of any campground yet.

Sign

It was ugly at first because of the stark  landscape. The campground sat up on a knoll and could be seen for miles around. The man made Brantley Lake in the middle of this desert seemed so out of place.

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But there was beauty on this ugly knoll. As we sat at our campsite we were entertained by a parade of wildlife. An assortment birds including quail, morning doves, and road runners, rabbits, jack rabbits, and lizards all passed us by.

The night skies clear, dark and just plain amazing, as were the sunsets and the sunrises.

Sunrise

Here’s a shot of the Star Ship Enterprise caught from our campsite.

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Every afternoon around 4:00 the wind would pick up. One day it was especially fierce and so we spent about 45 minutes erecting a wind block out of our camp rug. It worked (kind of). Sue was very proud that her knot tying skills were up to the task!

Wind

We took a side trip to Sitting Bull Falls. It was amazing to see this 500 foot water fall surrounded by an arid desert.

In the state of New Mexico you can buy an annual pass for $210 that will get you into the state parks for one year. Yes that’s right, you can actually camp in New Mexico for one year for $210. Now that is a good deal. While I was in the shower room one day I met a truck driver who buys the pass every year just for the showers!!

Here is a meditative rattling session from Brantley. Please enjoy. Click here