“Welcome to Big Bend National Park,” said the ranger at the north gate.
“Thanks. We’ve been 40 years getting here,” I replied, not having had any intention of going there.
“You sure do drive slow,” he said.
What I said was true and it’s a story few outside family are likely to know.
Months before Leah and I married in August 1977, I made reservations at the lodge in Big Bend for our honeymoon.
However, three weeks before the wedding, I was offered the sports editor job in Brenham. Since football practice would already be under way for the season, the publisher wanted me on site as soon as possible. Plus, we had to relocate the trailer we would live in from Longview.
Bottom line, we didn’t have time to travel to Big Bend. I made new plans for Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas – much closer and a shorter stay.
Big Bend would wait for another day.
If you really know Texas, you’re aware one doesn’t just happen to swing by Big Bend. It pretty much requires deliberate planning.
Through the years, many friends have related stories of their visits and we’ve continued to say, “We’ll get there one day.”
That came yesterday.
With our 10-year-old grandson in tow, we made a one-day assault on the park Wednesday. The highlight was a 2.2-mile hike on the Grapevine Hills Trail to see the balanced rock … Charles’ first real hike!
After that, we found access to the Rio Grande and peered across at Mexico, an opportunity I pray will not be denied future visitors by a political party anxious to ruin lives.
Wildlife sightings included mule deer, javelina, various birds (including numerous roadrunners) and lizards.
You’re right, one cannot really *do* Big Bend in one day, but it was right for our situation. Perhaps, Leah and I will get back out here for an extended stay. Leah always wants to explore more trails. Personally, I would like to set out across the open, unmarked desert to see what we can find.
And, yes, I understand we probably cannot wait another 40 years.