SOLTESWEB.NET ALASKA TRIP 2005 - MARCH Page 2
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Wednesday, March 16 - Del Rio
Woke up to 50 degrees and blowing – a chilly, cloudy day and good for driving. We stopped in Del Rio at, you guessed it, WalMart. High today was only 58 degrees. Look what we saw in the parking lot...I guess this guy's got it all! Even a bicycle on front fender, and motorcycle behind!
Thursday, March 17 - Seminole Canyon State Park
Guess it’s St Patrick’s day, but no evidence of it here.
We thought 50 degrees was cold? It was 36 this morning. But it warmed up to near 70 by noon. That’s the desert for you.
We drove about 40 miles to get to Seminole Canyon State Park. Desert, canyons and pictographs in the canyon wall caves that were apparently drawn 4-6000 years ago. The 1 ½ mile walk down into the canyon was worth the trek. Later we took a 7 mile round trip hike to see where Seminole Canyon goes into the Rio Grande. Across the canyon, we saw Panther cave where we saw other pictographs. Needless to say, we were tired. Lots of wildflowers blooming! A special cactus with red flowers unique to this area…hedgehog cactus. Also feather peabush. Heard a canyon wren singing.
Hedgehog cactus on the right.
Seminole canyon pictures.
If you are wondering how we know all of these flowers and animals, we are armored with about 6 books which help us to identify them. Since we spend most of our time in Central Texas and east or north of that, we are excited to see all of the new critters south and west.
Friday, March 18 - Big Bend - Window Trail
We set the alarm for six so we could get a good start on arriving at Big Bend. We were told it would be hard to get a campsite because of spring break, but we did J. We set up camp about 12:30 in the Chisos basin. The camp is in the center of the circle of peaks. Anyway you look up is a panorama of beauty. Are there were lots of wildflowers and cacti…purple lupine, Mexican buckeye (small tree with pink blooms), tall bluebonnets (some white ones), Mexican poppies, century plant, sotol cactus, lechuguilla.
Later, we took the 5-mile Window Trail. It was very rugged, a 480 foot descent. We walked off to a crevice in one of the peaks where we could look out and see a large expanse of desert basin below you…way below! On the trail back, just 2ft. from us as we passed by, was a javalina eating away on the bushes. He just ignored us. We guessed he’s just used to tourists. We spotted two Mexican jays and a canyon wren. We passed a troop of boy scouts when we heard “Dr. Soltes?” It was Mark Trabing, and his wife Lynn, who had both been forestry students and took Ed’s Wood Properties and Utilization class 20 years ago! Mark recognized Ed’s voice while we were talking…go figure!
That evening we decided to attend a presentation that we thought would be on coyotes us here in the park. It turned out that the ranger talked about Ol’ Man Coyote, a native American legendary character who is said to have caused disorganization in the world. He went on with a series of beautiful slides to show that what he thought of as disorganization was responsible for the varied beauty of the mountains and desert.
Bluebonnets of all varieties...
Saturday, March 19 - Big Bend - Lost Mine Trail
We were up and off to hike the Lost Mine Trail. This was another 5-mile trail which rose some 1100 ft to an elevation over 7000 ft.
We chickened out at the 1-mile scenic outlook, and decided to drive down to another campground…Cottonwood near the Santa Elena Canyon. We hiked the canyon trail…first over the sand of the Rio Grand river bottom, then up the side of the west wall, and into the canton along the river banks. Soon, we were in a shaded area where we walked through a cane forest, and finally to a spot where you could no longer go forward. This was truly the end of the trail at the end of the road at the end of Texas!
Santa Elena Canyon
We saw many birds today…bluegray gnatcatcher, roadrunner, turkey, black-crested titmouse, vermillion flycatcher, and lots of yellow breasted woodpeckers.
Sunday, March 20 - On Road to Presidio
For church, we listened to a CD by David Jeremiah, and then talked about the sermon. Some of you may find this strange, but you must realize that there are few opportunities sometimes to attend church when you are on the road and parked in a remote area.
Ed worked on getting the web site together, while Patty went bird watching. We left after 12. On the way out of the Big Bend area, we stopped at the Big Bend Ranch Conservation Center where we expected to see a cactus/desert plant botanical garden. There, we had quite a surprise! We ran into Brenda Blair, and her husband Dave. Brenda had been Ed’s secretary at TAMU whom we had not seen in nine years. Brenda and Dave retired five years ago, sold their house, live in a fifth wheel trailer (same brand as ours), and are doing construction mission work with the Sojourners. Watch out! This life style must be contagious! We had a great time reminiscing and spending part of the evening with them at a Mexican restaurant in Presidio.
The roadside was full of flowers.
We stayed at an RV park in Presidio. Hot showers, several loads of laundry, and WiFi for Ed. What more could you ask? Because of the WiFi connection, Ed was able to complete the work he was doing on the web site and publish the first few days of the Alaska journal.
Monday, March 21
Driving day today. Got a late start…then drove to El Paso where we had some excellent Mexican food (is there any other kind of excellent food?). Wal-Mart again. The wind today was broadsiding us at 30-40 mph or more.
Tuesday, March 22 - Chiricahua National Park
As we drove out of El Paso, we saw the first of the yellow-orange colored desert poppies that covered the desert as we traveled. The mountain side appeared to be covered in gold…glorious! When we stopped to take pictures of the poppies, we found a cell phone on the ground. Phoning the last missed call, we were able to reach the owner who met us on the other side of the mountain. The gentleman was an anesthesiologist who dabbled in mathematical restructuring of observations which led to Einstein’s relativity theory. Although beyond me, he claimed that there may be other interpretations. A Christian by the 2-nail cross on a necklace around his neck.
We drove through New Mexico then south on Rt 80 to Portal, and over the mountain on a 19-mile dirt road through the Coronado National Forest. This was a one-lane back road with steep grades and hairpin turns, but beautiful views! We ended up in the Chiricahua National Park which is noted for the strange-looking finger-like structures composed of bounders precariously balanced on one another.
Later that evening, we found a small park in a small village in Arizona in the middle of nowhere to park for the night. See if you can find Elfrida on your Arizona map.
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