Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Checking out the Rio Grande March 30

We put about 200 miles on the Jeep today, visiting places that I couldn't even imagine before. We headed south, out of Marfa on US 67, which is 75 miles of high desert driving, with huge mountains visible to the right and left. As you get further south, you start to climb, and get into some hills, but no huge climbs. We passed a small town called Shafter, which was nothing but a old silver mine which is being opened again, since silver prices are up. It hasn't been open for a long time, but maybe there is going to be a silver rush in the area. Soon we came to the town of Presidio, USA, and/or Ojinaga, Mexico, depending on which side of the Rio Grande you are on. It looked like one town to us as we descended out of the mountains. The Rio Grande was nowhere to be seen. Little did we know that it is just a little creek, because of the drought, and 95% of its water being consumed upstream by cities and farms. The neatest thing in Presidio was a church, that claimed to have Americas first Christmas celebration. Presidio also claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in the US, with some type of inhabitants continuously living here for over 10,000 years. That was news to us.

Carved wooden church doors

Once we left Presidio, the adventure really began. We stopped into the Big Bend Ranch State Park registration center. This in not to be confused with Big Bend National Park that we were in two days ago. We got our own private half hour history lesson from a ranger before departing. Pam says we are going to the University of Retirement, because we are learning so much on this adventure. We then proceeded to cruise about 40 miles of Texas route 170, which more or less follows the Rio Grande through the mountains. The Chesos Mountains of Mexico, and the Rockies, and Appalachians ( yep, that's right, unbelievably) of the US are all visible in this park.We couldn't tell one from the other though.
Today is one of the reasons that we are glad we have the Jeep. We went off road in several areas, and visited many primitive campgrounds, river access areas, and drove across volcanic ash to see overlooks not seen by most tourists. We visited a small town that was constructed just as a movie set for westerns right on the Rio Grande. (The Contrabando movie set). It was beginning to show its age, and it looked quite authentic from a short distance. We learned that about five movies shot scenes there, and James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and other famous stars shot scenes there.

We just learned how to do panoramic pictures!  This is the Contrabando movie set.

More of the movie set.  Does it look familiar??

While we were there, I decided to pull off my socks and orthotics, and wade across the Rio Grande into Mexico. The water was quite nice, ankle deep, and my visit to Mexico was filled with the drama befitting a western movie set!
Mike takes a trip to Mexico!

Wait!  Come back!

At some point we also took a mile trail down through some areas near the river, and the desert floor was alive with blooming cacti and ground covers of blue, purple, yellow and peach. Much to Pam's relief, we didn't kick up any rattlers, just lizards that moved with the speed of light. When we finished that, the temps were near 100, so we took the top off the Jeep, and cruised topless. We came to an oasis as we left the park called the Lajitas Resort and Golf Club, where they had a hotel that looked like a western town, a golf course, where one hole played into Mexico, and a watering hole that was desperately needed. I had Coors Original, and Pam chose Corona.

Reading a roadside marker in the park

This was the temp before we started our hike.

Cactus flowers

The Rio Grande!

A little bit of color in the desert

Up at the look out point, looking down at our Jeep!

Picnic area in the park

Go figure!?  Actually, when the heavy rains hit the mountains, it floods!

Soon after, it was back on the road, and we came to our next destination. It was a town of ruins left over from a 1930's mercury mine, where newer establishments were built right next, or in some cases, right on the ruins of all the stone buildings. They also had rentals, a hotel, and a bar that was rockin. (We didn't stop in). We chose to tour the cemetery, which was very unique, in the way the locals buried, and honored the dead. Then it was Texas route 118 north, an 80 mile drive through the mountains, where we saw ranches, and RVs out in the middle of nowhere dotting the landscape surrounded by 5-6000 ft peaks.

Graves covered with rocks

Old buildings in the ghost town.

More of the cemetery

Left on one of the graves

In the cemetery - not sure what it was for!!!!

 We also saw our first road runner. It darted out in front of the Jeep, did a 180, and darted back from whence it came. It didn't look like Wile E. Coyote was anywhere to be found. We have pictures galore, and so many things we didn't do. We did see a group of six canoes on the Rio Grande, and Pam had watch to see if their technique and J strokes were up to her standards. I think everyone passed except one canoe, who bounced off the canyon wall. What a great day!

We were up on a look out when these canoes went by

One of many border patrol inspection stations that we have gone through.  I was worried that they wouldn't allow Mike to pass through since he went to Mexico!!!  HA HA

Loved this road sign as we were driving through the park

This was a good one too!

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