I camped at the Tumble In in Marfa, TX, which was not the greatest experience due to sideways rain, wind, and super cold temperatures. Marfa is a very interesting town, full of galleries and other things that I was too cold and annoyed to go and see. After a chilly first night I made the smart choice to just get in my car and drive south, deciding that a few hours on heated seats was better than spending a day staring at the walls of my tent and slowly going mad and/or dying of exposure.
A lot of people told me that Big Bend was pretty amazing, but I never expected the top of my head to blow off due to its inability to contain the beauty stretching out in every direction. I never made it to the national park, but took the highway through the state park, learning later that the national park was completely fogged in and that my cheapskate choice was actually a good one.
I drove for several hours, stopping frequently to try to capture the magic of this place with my camera, which is just about impossible. It's hard to describe. It's enormous, mountains stretching out forever in lighter and lighter blue until they are lost to the horizon, the bright green Rio Grande winding along next to the road (and Mexico on the other side), dirt and rocks in every shade of brown, red, and grey, grassland, scrub, cacti, desert flowers in pink, purple, and yellow, coyotes, and a giant black spider scuttling across the road.
Every stop had me gazing around with my mouth hanging open, wishing I had someone I could grab by the arm and point out all of the things I was seeing. If there's a downside to this trip, it's that the things I often see defy description in such a way that I feel I cannot make you SEE it with me. It is frustrating to reduce that sense of awe to mere words, but it also underlines my previously vague feeling that it's important to go and see with your own eyes; it's imperative, because so much is lost in translation.
The landscape made me wish I were patient enough to use watercolors. Deep cobalt mountains, red rocks, every shade of green, from sage to grass to the pale, luminescent green of some cacti, glowing yellow grass, dark grey clouds, sandstone, and blue green scrub. I simply don't have the technical skill with a camera to show you how truly enchanting the landscape is, so I highly recommend that you go and see it for yourself.
When I got back to the Tumble In I broke down my tent. The wind was so ferocious that it had pushed rain in between my ground cloth and tent, leaving everything wet, cold, and generally disgusting. The weather forecast called for more rain, and I decided that there was no way in hell I would be packing a wet tent.
After breaking down my tent, I went in search of a bar in which to spend the afternoon and found the Capri, which had a roaring fire, a tiny Chihuahua, and a great menu. I stayed for a few hours and then went back to my campsite and settled down in my car. Since it was so wet and crazy out I didn't take the time to clear the back and make it easy to fit my legs, so it was not the best night of sleep, but I was at least dry and warmer out of the wind.
Somewhere around the crack of dawn I got up, hit the showers, grabbed a gigantic coffee, and then got out of town.