Lost Yet Found in Lajitas, Texas and Big Bend National Park

February 5, 2019

It’s been such a long time since our last blog post (November 19, 2018) that I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to get up to date with things. I guess the only way is to simply start from where we left off (Solomons, Maryland) and run down the travel list from that point.

Jane and John relaxing on the famous “Porch” at the Starlight Theater, an iconic landmark of Terlingua Ghost Town.

Before I start the ball rolling you need to know that since we departed Dejarlo last November in Solomons, Maryland (where we left her in winter storage, on “the hard” and wrapped for protection from the ravages of winter) we have traveled over 3,000 miles in our RV. We’re currently in Lajitas, Texas, just outside the entrance to Big Bend National Park, and a stone’s-throw away from the Mexican border. More on that later.

Our path through Louisiana and Texas after departing St. Peters.
Dejarlo sits “on the hard”, winterized and wrapped in Solomons, Maryland awaiting our return in the spring.

After leaving Solomons, we spent five days playing tourist in Washington D.C. We then traveled to Gettysburg National Park for a couple days of Civil War history. We then scurried back to St. Peters, Missouri for a little over three weeks of dental appointments, friend and family visits, Thanksgiving, and an opportunity to spend time with Nick and Jake, our two wonderful grandsons.

We hurried out of Missouri before it got too cold and headed to Shreveport, Louisiana for a visit with Jane’s brother and family. Then way down to Alamo in far-south Texas to visit with John’s brother and wife Theresa. Then up to Port Aransas, Texas for a month of relaxation and some time celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary (we got married in Port Aransas). Then up to Fredericksburg for a few days in the beautiful “hill country” of Texas, before heading over to Lajitas, Texas (our current location) and Big Bend National Park. We’ve been here for almost three weeks.

Wow! OK, you’re up to date. Now I can fill in some of the blanks and let you know what’s next on the agenda.

I’m going to skip over many details of the past couple of months and get into a description of this extraordinary territory which includes Big Bend National Park. But first, a quick note about how wonderful it was to visit with friends and family in Shreveport, Alamo and the Port-A area (thanks Jeff for a wonderful family Christmas dinner). And what a joy it was to be back in Port Aransas. I’ve been visiting Port-A since I was in my twenties. Following my parents retirement, they became “winter Texans” and, for twenty-five years, spent their winter months in Port-A, away from the cold of central Illinois. Port-A always feels like home. Jane and I will definitely be back again.

We had been to Big Bend National Park before, but never visited by RV and for this long. Big Bend is one of those little-known treasures of Texas and the U.S. For those that think Texas can be discovered by visiting Dallas, Houston or San Antonio, you ain’t seen noth’n till you’ve been to this part of Texas! Rising up out of the high plains of southwestern Texas, Big Bend is a sight to behold, with hiking trails for all levels and vistas that rival anything, anywhere.

A drone flight along the Rio Grande River at Lajitas, Texas.

We were lucky that Jane’s brother and sister-in-law, Alan and Ruth, could take some time to come down from their home in Shreveport to spend three days showing us the area and taking us on some extraordinary trails. They’ve been here dozens and dozens of times and probably know the area better than their own back yard. We were grateful for their visit.

Alan, Ruth and Jane heading up Lost Mine Trail
Alan points out Casa Grande Peak.
John relaxes inside a crumbling line shack of the old Rios Ranch, once located on what is now Big Bend State Park.
Jane and Alan, still smiling after the completion of a hike up Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park.

And then there were the visits to Terlingua Ghost Town for the iconic visit to “the porch” followed by some unforgettable meals at the Starlight Theater and La Kiva. Don’t miss a visit if you’re in the area, although you don’t get here by happenstance. If you’re in Terlingua, you definitely made the effort to get there.

Shelly and Jane enjoying the high desert vistas of Big Bend National Park

Another treat was a visit across the Mexican border to Boquillas del Carmen. This trip required a short ride in a jon boat across the Rio Grande followed by a donkey ride up to the village. We made the trip with our friends John and Shelley from Maine and, although our rear ends were a little sore from the donkey ride, it was well worth the time and effort to see life as it is in a small Mexican village.

Heading down to the Rio Grande to catch a boat ride across into Mexico …
… followed by a slow, half-mile donkey ride up to the small Mexican village of Boquillas del Carmen
Our Boquillas guide, Gabriel, explains the adobe building process to John.
A wonderful lunch at Falcone’s overlooking the Rio Grande and the U.S. border.
Checking back into the U.S. using self-service kiosks.

So, what’s next for us?

Well, from Lajitas we’re heading up to Marathon, Texas for a couple days to enjoy the night skies and study astro-photography, then up to Carlsbad Caverns for a couple more. We’ll then head to El Paso for about a week to re-provision and get the RV and ourselves ready for the State and National Parks of New Mexico, Arizona and California. We’re planning on doing quite a bit of dry-camping (also called boondocking) on BLM land, requiring us to upgrade our RV house batteries and install some solar panels. We’ll undoubtedly have plenty to report regarding those adventures!

Our goal is Joshua Tree National Park and Mohave Desert in California before turning around at the end of March and heading back to St. Peters for a few weeks visit in April.

We plan to depart St. Peters the first week of May and head back to Dejarlo awaiting us in Solomons, Maryland. We’ve planned a pretty comprehensive upgrade of Dejarlo’s systems this spring, including new electronics, batteries, refrigeration and more. All our activity this spring and summer is about getting Dejarlo and ourselves ready to head over to the Bahamas – and perhaps more ambitious destinations – this coming November.

More on that later!

  1. Reply

    Ruth Schlichtemier

    February 14, 2019

    It was so fun to visit you at Big Bend. I especially loved visiting at the
    RV Park and learning a little bit about the nomadic lifestyle. Thanks for the Cafe’ Bustelo tip – my new favorite!

    • Reply

      John & Jane

      February 20, 2019

      Big Bend was a blast, and you and Alan were the most patient of guides, not to mention knowledgeable! Yep, Cafe’ Bustelo is terrific IF one loves dark coffee.

  2. Reply

    Diane L Singler

    February 6, 2019

    So happy for you to be having such an interesting land trip. I really enjoy seeing your photos. Thanks for sharing your adventures. We miss you.

    • Reply

      John & Jane

      February 20, 2019

      Thanks for your kind words…we ARE having a good, good time. So encouraging to hear you’re enjoying the photos. Hope to see you soon!

  3. Reply

    Micha Kornblum

    February 6, 2019

    Beautiful pictures! Good to see you having so much fun even though it’s on dry land … well, very dry land in Big Bend. Have more fun, send more pictures and we’ll see you in a few months.