February 14, 2018
THE FIBERGLASS RALLY
We finally made it to Quartzsite, AZ for the fiberglass RV rally. It was really something to see the 200 or so little trailers gathered in one place. There were a few organized events. One of them was a soup potluck. Everyone is asked to bring a can of any kind of soup, as long as it isn’t a creamed variety. The hosts (I think) put the soups into large vats for cooking. At the specified time, you go to the “soup area” with your own spoon and bowl. Needless to say, I did not participate in this activity. I donated my can of soup, but I did not / could not / would not taste the final product, although I was told it was “delicious”. On the last day, there was a dessert potluck. Again, everyone was supposed to bring one dessert – of any kind. I think it’s fair to say that every single person in the desert that day lined up for dessert with their own plates. I don’t think I’ve ever seen dishes piled so precariously high. Those people could really eat !!!
While in town, we had dinner at the Quartzite Yacht Club (“Long time no sea“).
I collected a number of quartzite rocks.
All I have to do is find a rock tumbler, cut them and voila — spectacular jewelry (after I learn how to cut them and actually make jewels).
And that’s about it. The rally is primarily for meeting up with other folks who enjoy traveling in the same types of trailers to discuss things like trailer modifications, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. It was an interesting few days.
In Big Bend National Park, the miles of roads end at the Rio Grande, the river boundary between the United States and Mexico. There are more than 100 miles of paved roads, greater than 70 miles of unpaved roads and 238 miles of trails, stretching deep into the park’s wilderness, very difficult to access. Something easily accessible in Big Bend are the stars. Simply look up into one of the darkest skies in the US, and you will easily see the Milky Way. In 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the order for this 801,163 acres of land to be protected. The name Big Bend refers to the great southwest Texas U-turn of the Rio Grande defining the park boundary for 118 miles . “…by legend, Pecos Bill lassoed a wild tornado and carved a series of magnificentand canyons”. One of the reasons it has been deemed a national park besides the stunning beauty, is the fact that it is the only park that consists of three different ecosystems – a place where water, desert, and mountains converge. Big Bend provides habitat for 450 species of birds, 75 species of mammals, 56 species of reptiles, and 11 species of amphibians.
The Rio Grande
The river you see in the background is the Rio Grande. This green ribbon not only cuts across the dry desert, it also carved and continues to carve, deep canyons. Anywhere the terrain rises, water has carved everything from tiny gullies to springs, trickling streams, and canyons. This is the Santa Elena Canyon. Its north wall is in the US and It’s south wall towers in Mexico. ( In the picture below, to the left is Mexico and to the right is the US)
By the way, we certainly don’t need a wall between the US and Mexico in this part of Texas at least. Unless people have expert rappelling skills, there’s no way they can cross into the US via this route.
The Rio Grande is the park’s most prominent water source. The river supports 40 species of fish, several species of turtles, beaver, and numerous species of waterfowl (both residents and migrating species). It is a place where visitors can fish, canoe and kayak.
Big Bend lies in the northern part of the Chihuahuan Desert, one of North America’s four major deserts. Some people think the desert is a vast emptiness, but I happen to love this landscape. I’m amazed at the adaptations of plants and animals that live there. Desert life is adapted to save its energy and to get and keep water. Dormant seeds wait for rain, and can stay dormant for years. Most animals beat the heat by coming out only at night. Snakes do this because on hot summer days, they would die in minutes. Note how the desert gives way to the mountains.
I want to give a shout-out to three of my favorite desert plants. The Torry Yucca, the Ocotillo, and the Century Plant.
The Torry Yucca
The Torrey Yucca is generally a multitrunked shrub 3–10 feet in height. They can be single trunked and tree-like to 20 feet tall. The bladed leaves range from 2 to 4.5 feet in length. The flowers, ivory to creamy white tinged with red or purple and bell shaped, are on a flower head up to 2 feet long. The fruit of this plant was used by the Apache people as a food source. They also used the plant leaves as a fiber in basketry, cloth, mats, ropes, and sandals. Why is this one of my faves? Because the flower head has been known to weigh as much as 70 pounds. That my friends is a flower – try putting that in a vase!!!
One of the most amazing of the many unique and unusual plants found in the Chihuahuan desert is the Ocotillo. The Ocotillo is not actually a cactus but a family of its own. Its bundles of gray, thorny stems, often look drab and totally dead.
But, with warmth and moisture, they miraculously transform into a leafy green, orange-crowned flowering wonder. This plant is one of the best examples of living in and surviving drought, and that’s what makes it a favorite. With rain the Ocotillo develops leaves but drops them when the dry conditions return. This can happen several times a year.
Colonies of mature Ocotillo are pretty impressive. Older specimens can reach heights of 25 feet, some spreading out more than 15 feet across.
The Century Plant
Another of my favorites is the Century Plant. They hold a special place in my heart because when we lived in the islands and our children were very small, we used it as a Christmas Tree.
Naturally, we only cut trees that appeared to be dead, dry and withered. And contrary to what you may be thinking they were spectacularly adorned with tinsel and ornate shell decorations. Promise!!
The Chisos Mountains are the green island in a sea of desert. They attract creatures rare and unexpected. Over thousands of years the animals became isolated – stranded in the mountains by the increasing dryness. For example, Carmen Mountain white-tailed deer are unknown anywhere other than in the Chisos. The Colima warbler nests only in the Chisos, after wintering in Mexico. Also living here for thousands of years is the mountain lion, known locally as panther.
The pictures below clearly show how the desert gives way to the mountains.
Big Bend is one of the least visited national parks due to the fact that you have to go way out of your way to see it. You don’t just pass by. The only reason to be in that neck of the woods is if you were specifically on a mission to visit Big Bend. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
We are currently in Del Rio, Texas. It was one of our favorite towns (city?) on our “big trip”. Broke Mill RV Park is immaculate and close to lots of neat things. Last night we had a delicious filet mignon dinner with mashed potatoes, beans, cowboy bread, cherry cobbler and ice cream. The meal was prepared by the owner of the park, Mike, who also happens to be a cattle rancher – fresh beef. And if that’s not enough, there was a show after dinner by the Broken Mill Players.
The fiddler is none other than the same guy- Mike. He truly is a master of many trades.
Fun fact: Whenever you’re traveling and find yourself at an event in a park, the guests begin to talk about where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. “Has anyone been to Alaska?” Those who have chime in on the conversation, “Oh yes, plus, we’ve been to all 50 states and nine Canadian Providences.” After the travel issues are exhausted, we play the “did you see” game. People get to boast about all the places they’ve been. Often the boasts are about historical sites and museums – the more esoteric the better. I’ve learned how to turn these conversations around. I ask, “Has anyone visited the last washboard manufacturing company in the US?” And further, “has anyone seen the largest ball of twine in the world?” “No?” By then, people look at us through squinted eyes and a “huh?” expression. I love it!
Such fun. If you want to know more, check out blog posts from the past. We’re headed east, eventually for home. Next stop – Port Aransas, Texas, another favorite. See you there.
PLEASE DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR MY RANT !
This has happened to us twice in our travels, once in Redwood National Park, and once in the desert. To all sales people – we are on vacation – and you are, too. Stop trying to sell us stuff! It’s been the same both times. People trying to entice you with their pyramid schemes. “I have never felt better in my life”, they claim. “I would not be able to sleep at night if I didn’t tell you about this miracle product.” When you are naive enough to ask, “What is it”, that’s when they spring into action. Even going so far as to showing a picture of themselves before taking the product, and after the product. And how they paid for the very trailer they’re camping in by selling this product, and letting other people in on the wonder of it all, so that they in turn can make people healthy and wealthy. When they first approach you, it’s seemingly just to be friendly. You’re thinking, oh, what a nice couple, offering glass of wine, a little cheese, some crackers. Then they start. And believe me, it’s a hard sell. They’ve been so nice…can you really say “no”…how will I avoid eye contact for the remaining time we’re camped beside them. Yep- it’s very awkward. So just STOP. If I ask you a question like, “Do you know of anyone who sells a product that will make my gray hair turn brown, help me lose weight, and feel healthier than I ever have in my life?” , then give me your spiel… otherwise, please don’t !!!