Thursday started a bit earlier than Wednesday. Well, truth be told, much earlier. Not only was it Park Day, but it was also moving day.
A little background. When we arrived at the Holland on Wednesday, we found out that the room we were originally booked for (more specifically, a loft) wouldn’t be ready for us until Thursday. So, we were put in a regular room for Wednesday night. The hotel would move our things the next day; but, of course, we needed to be packed up.
Fine. Although, I kinda felt bad for the person who had to move our stuff. It was more than the usual suitcases. We also had a cooler and bins full of food and accoutrements needed for my class at the Holland on Friday.
After cleaning up and packing, Steve & I went to grab a quick breakfast from the hotel spread. It was the usual variety of pastries, cereal, and granola. I will say, though, it was certainly a step above the average hotel breakfast fare.
After breakfast, we went to pick up my parents at their hotel for another sojourn to Big Bend National Park. Steve & I have been there, oh, I think, 10 times now. Dad, a couple of times. Mom had never been, so we decided now would be as a good a time as any to take her. Plus, it always seems to be just a little different every time we go.
But first, a quick stop in Marathon. Mom had to go to the post office.
Task completed, we headed down the road to the park. For those of you who haven’t been out here before, nothing is close together. The three largest towns out here – Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis – are all 30 minutes away from each other and the park itself is an hour from Marathon (or, as the locals call it, Marath’n). If you factor in getting to the park headquarters (which is what the road signs measure), it’s almost 2 hours from Alpine. But, the scenery makes the drive worth it.
If you leave early enough in the day, you will (hopefully) see the buzzards sitting on the fence posts with their wings spread warming themselves up. They’re sinfully ugly and kinda gross birds, but they’re fun to observe.
If you want to take pictures of buzzards (or any carrion bird), you have to be careful. If you startle them, their preferred method of defense is throwing up the contents of their stomach. And, since they eat already dead things, you can just imagine the smell. Well, maybe you can’t.
On into the park. We just hit the time between the wildflowers and the cactus blooms. So, not much color foliage-wise, but still, as always, beautiful in its own desert way.
After the many stops requested by Dad & me so we could take photos, we finally made it to the park headquarters, Panther Junction. So, we decided to eat lunch at the lodge in the park. The Chisos Mountain Lodge.
Lunch was, in a word, dull. The food was edible but, like all places that cater to large, diverse crowds, boring. The best part of the meal was the appetizer, Texas Toothpicks. Basically, deep-fried onion and pickled jalapeño pieces. They weren’t greasy and the dipping sauce – a kind of chili-mayonnaise thing – that wasn’t bad.
Mom went for a BLT. She says it’s the only sandwich she eats at restaurants because it’s not too messy. She said it was good.
Dad went for a burger. He said it was dry. The pattie definitely looked like it had been cooked immediately from its frozen state.
Steve & I both opted for the fish tacos. Bland doesn’t even begin to describe the flavor. We liberally poured on the appetizer dipping sauce to help out. It did. Kinda. It also looked as if they tried to warm up the tortillas but waited too long to get them to the table, because by the time we got them, the tortillas were stiff and dry.
The rice and beans were good, though.
After lunch, we decided to take a short walk around the Basin. We’ve made this walk before but never during the daylight hours. So, it was nice to see the Window in its daytime glory.
We came in through the north entrance, as we always do, but decided to leave via the south entrance heading towards Terlingua. We wanted to stop at the General Store there and check out the ghost town.
Steve & I have been to Terlingua Ghost Town maybe 5 or 6 times at this point. Sadly, it becomes more and more dilapidated every time. The ravages of time and humans have taken their toll.
We made a quick stop in the General Store for some t-shirts and Topo Chico. (For those of you who don’t know, Topo Chico is a Mexican carbonated mineral water.) Then, the 90-minute drive back to Alpine.
We dropped my parents off at their hotel and went back to ours to get the keys to our new room and clean up for the Viva Big Bend Food Festival opening night party.
Stewart had reserved a loft for Steve & me. I needed it so I could prep for my class the next day without getting in the way of the kitchen staff at the hotel restaurant. When we finally walked in, we were thrilled. A nice large living area with a serviceable kitchenette and a huge bedroom area with a whirlpool tub and large bathroom.
We cleaned up and headed towards the party at the Railroad Blues, a great music venue in Alpine. The local telecom company was giving away free fajitas and coozies with magnets. Very handy.
The fajitas were very good. Most of the time, the skirt steak is so undercooked, the meat is chewy. This time the meat was cooked through and was very tender. (Although, admittedly, I don’t know what cut of meat this was.) Plus, they didn’t overdress the fajitas. Just grilled onions, peppers, and some excellent salsa. Steve got us both seconds. After my parents arrived, he went with Dad to get food and got himself a third one.
After conversing with my parents and Stewart, Steve & I went back to the hotel to begin prep for my class. Mission accomplished, I went to bed.
Day 3… Coming up.