Wed 26 Feb – Made it to the Dentist (Painted Skies Dentistry) what a magical name! After a quick xray the good news was that I had a cracked tooth – bad news I needed a crown. Good news – it could be done while I waited, bad news – the cost (although thankfully only a little bit more than I paid back home). Agreed that I should go ahead and two hours later after much drilling, poking and general agony of having to keep one’s mouth open I came out with a new crown. Really nice dentist and very accommodating. It was fascinating to see all the gadgets that he had – he didn’t need to take an impression of my tooth – he had a 3D imaging camera which replicated my tooth, and then once he had filed it all down another shot was taken and then the machine just milled out a tooth that fitted exactly in place. The milling of the tooth only took about 10 minutes.
After that exertion – we just made it to the farmer’s market – which was a big disappointment – there were only a handful of stalls and no fresh produce – it must be better on the Saturday market. Visited the big secondhand bookstore which is quite famous in this region and came out with a couple of books for Bob and some DVD’s for our collection.
The treat of the day was a visit to a Restaurant – the Double Eagle which was in heart of old Las Crusces in the Mesilla – also famous for Billy the Kid and his cohorts. The restaurant was an old mansion – Spanish/Mexican in style with a central (once open to the air) courtyard with rooms all opening out on to it. Each of the rooms was set out very lavishly with very old artwork on the walls and antique furniture. The piece de resistance was the main dining room – the high ceiling was lined with tin tiles which had all been covered in 24ct gold leaf, two enormous chandeliers hung from the ceiling and there was also an orchestra balcony. The food was good but Texas meals are huge!! and with a mouth half numb it took me quite a while to make my way through mine.
We had a wander around the Mesilla and then made our way back to the boondocking site for another night.
Thursday 27 Feb – Time to head for Texas for real. the only way around El Paso was on the freeway so we made sure that we had let all the rush hour traffic go before heading off. In the end it wasn’t too bad and once clear of the city, the traffic died down considerably and we had a very pleasant run all the way to Marfa. Our stop for the night was on a roadside rest area where there was a viewing platform for the famous Marfa Mystery Lights. There were a few folk stopping for the night and a whole lot of people just coming in once it got dark in the hope of seeing the lights. It seems that the moon has to be in right phase to see this phenomenon and it wasn’t our night. Spent hours talking with a really interesting chap who was into motorbikes and had a lovely old dog travelling with him. He had a rather quaint turn of phrase and kept calling me Bob’s “bride” – this will be my new nickname for a while to come!!
Friday 28 Feb – It was rather a noisy night with trains and trucks going through the night but still managed to get some sleep. This day’s trip was another longish one as we were heading for the Big Bend National Park. Had a short stop at Alpine to get some supplies and then it was back on the highway and down into the park. This park is huge – you get a 7 days on entry and that can be extended whilst in the Park. We purchased an annual pass which will be a saving as we get to visit more National Parks – each entry can cost up to $20 so we will quickly get the value out of our $80 pass. Finally got to the park gates and arranged to go primitive camping for 5 nights – these campsites are well off the main road through but a little rough to get into. Nine Point Draw was our first stop and we had that to ourselves. Just us and the desert.
Sat 01 Mar – First up this morning was a hike into Dog Canyon. A narrow canyon worn through over the years by the constant flooding from desert rains. Up close it was spectacular and you certainly wouldn’t want to be around when it rains as you would have no chance walking in these arroyo (the stream beds when it rains) as they would have been over 2m deep. After that it was a meander through to our next camp site at Croton Springs which we shared with one other rig.
Sun 02 Mar – Journeyed out of our campsite and down to St Elena Canyon – this is a small cleft in the mountains through which flows the Rio Grande river. The road there was amazing – climbed up really high and around each corner the landscape changed – the rock formations were different and there were spectacular views. Once down at the canyon we went a small hike which took us right into the canyon and we could almost touch Mexico – the Rio Grande being the border between the US and Mexico. Rio Grande sadly is not very grand any more and in places you could easily walk across – although if you did so you would be making an illegal crossing. Apparently it is quite common round here for the Mexicans to shout across the water and offer to come and take you across – not something that we were keen to try! Today must have been one of the hottest we have struck and by the time we had got back from the hike were quite pooped. Wound our way back over the mountains and to the camp at Croton – this time we were on our own again.
This is the canyon (the other side of the river is Mexico)
Mon 03 Mar – Had a very, very cold night along with high winds so were glad to be able to get on our way and thaw out a bit. Headed to the far south of the park and Boquillas Junction – this is a sanctioned border crossing but sadly was closed today so did the hike out to the canyon here – a bit different from St Elena but just as amazing. The rock formations are so incredible.
Again in both of these pictures – Mexico is just on the other side of the water
Decided that we would stay in a “proper” campground as it was still really windy and would have been a lot colder up where we had intended to camp. The store here also had a laundromat and showers so made full use of them and also their internet (hence this very quick blog). Our RV has also been making some unusual cracks and creaks so decided that we should spend a bit of time investigating that as well. There are a lot of interesting birds down in this part of the park – there is a lot more water and we are even camping amongst trees that are taller than us.