I wrote a little yesterday about the perspective I gained on our Big Bend adventure this Spring Break.
I thought I’d share a little of our tales from the trail. Also, as I started talking about spring break, I began hearing some hysterical stories from other moms break adventures. So I’m inviting you to email me your own tales from the trail with your family adventures last week, and we’ll share some here. I’ve loved hearing them.
Aside from the overnight pit stop in Del Rio en route to Big Bend, Saturday was uneventful. Except, I may have mentioned, the incessant fighting. Why would seven be a harder age than five? Anyone? No idea, but it proved a test of all our wills to survive the seven hour drive Saturday, even with new distractions on hand, and five additional hours Sunday.
But arrive we did.
Atop a dusty mountain to desert views and ancient trailers (which I’ve already shared enough about).
There is no cell service.
There is no medical care.
Big Bend is remote, my friends, very remote.
The highlight of the trip was our family friends going with us. Little bit had a girl a year younger to play with and the boys had a boy their age to play with. By injecting these additional tiny humans into the mix, the fighting remarkably ceased. It’s a good thing too since we wanted to return with all the children we left with.
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night we had dinner with our family friends on the shared mountaintop. Grilling burgers and hot dogs the first couple of nights and adventuring into the Terlingua Ghost Town to dine at the most raved about restaurant within three hundred miles, The Starlight Café. (Keep in mind, you are in the middle of NOWHERE so the bar is low, but dinner was good and it was nice to put some make up on and have a margarita!)
Once you drive into the park, you still have a long way to go.
So after your long road trip, it’s still not over.
We tried to cut the park into segments. Monday, we tackled the eastern side. I admit I’m not a huge fan of desert landscape. It was lovely in its vastness the first 24 hours, but then I was ready for some trees or snow caps. If we do mountains again, I’ll take landscape more akin to Yosemite or Colorado. We hiked small trails in Rio Grande Village and the kids threw stones across the Rio Grande River into Mexico which they enjoyed. We headed up to the overlook at Boquillas Canyon and then hiked over to the very crowded natural hot springs. Finally, we traveled north so the kids could tour the cool new fossil exhibit. They thoroughly enjoyed the fossils and open running landscape, but you could tell they were done for the day.
Tuesday, we tackled the central portion of the park. I rank Chisos Basin as my favorite landscape of the week. Assorted trees quickly appear on mountainside and the hikes challenged us more than the day before. Unfortunately, March Spring Breakers make up a third of the annual park traffic, so we had to hang outside the basin road for almost an hour during the “one in-one out” policy the rangers imposed. The kids wanted to hike a mountain though and they got their chance. We didn’t attempt the full Window hike like our much more athletic camping friends, but we had gorgeous views nonetheless.
(The kids told us to kiss at the last stop we took on an overlook on the way out of the park! Always happy to oblige. Bray was the real trooper in all this. He drove the ENTIRE time!)
Tuesday night brought our double family outing to Starlight Theatre and, despite a few weary mom moments as a result of the two plus hour wait, we had a blast!
Wednesday morning brought this momma dancing her way to load the car. It may sound pretty and adventurous, but honestly it was a hard trip. A ton of car time. Lots of basics missing which pose a dilemma with kids. No laundry options so heaps of dirty clothes from the mountain adventures. The kids didn’t miss a beat, but I was fried.
Bray loved our time at Fort Davis, he’s a huge military buff, and the kids even got to hike another mountain. So the early departure from Big Bend to add that to our agenda ended up being a perfect fit.
I shared a little of our joy from the Comfort Inn at our stop at Sonora in yesterday’s post.
What I didn’t go into was our unexpected last vacation stop. Bray saw signs for the Caverns of Sonora and I’ve always wanted to visit caverns. He said, “It’s vacation! Let’s do it – we’ll never be back here!” So we did. We woke up early and were the first visitors to Caverns of Sonora at 8 am Thursday morning. Much of the cavern still lives and we each got “cavern kisses” from the dripping waters 155 feet below ground. The eldest carefully took photographs with my iPhone and felt quite proud at some of his shots.
Despite one massive meltdown on the way home, we otherwise had an easier trip back. Arriving home that evening, we piled out of the car grateful for our space and our many conveniences we’d previously taken for granted. I think tonight I’m finally feeling recovered from the physical and emotional drain this particular vacation took on me. It’s crazy because of how I loved our week in Yosemite.
But the kids all have grand things to tell about their adventures in the west. They animatedly describe the dirt slide they built out of the mountain and the coyotes and black widow spiders who drove them out of the tent one night late. I’m grateful for that. And next vacation, whenever it may be, we’re going for a few more creature comforts and less actual creatures!
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