Originally published 12 February, 2014
It is vast and scenic here, as well as remote. This is probably 20 miles from a town.
We left around 9 a.m., grabbed a latte at the Marfa coffee shop (we're remote. not uncivilized.) and headed down route 67 towards Presidio, TX. We crossed through a border patrol checkpoint but weren't stopped on the way down. You pass through a bunch of sensors and cameras, but they only stop you coming north. Remember...this is 65 miles NORTH of the border. But there aren't many roads headed north.
We quickly figure out that although geographically we are in Texas, culturally, we are in Mexico. The announcements over the store PA system are in spanish. A lot of the products are only labeled in spanish. We only hear spanish spoken in the store...but that's who lives here. It's a heavily hispanic culture.
The family that ran it apparently had every family member in the store. They were all very friendly, and very patient with our rusty spanish. One of the sons spoke fluent english and helped out when we hit a bump language wise when working with his mom. They were chatty and fun...and it was a great stop!
So we're sitting on the side of the road, and the border patrol pulls over to check on us. The guy thought we were having car trouble....we told him we were checking messages before heading out. He bid us a good day....and off we went!
There are places to put in a canoe or raft and float the river. The border is the center of the river.....leaving you floating in and out of either country. We saw people putting in with a canoe, and floating downriver to another vehicle which they would take back to the put in point. Like everything else out here.....you're on your own. You keep this in mind and realize that you're the only one you have to rely on....and that the nearest hospital is probably 120 miles away. You pay attention...and you're careful. Your life may depend on it.
Laurie on "Gardner's Rock", FM 170, Rio Grande, Texas
Edit 2018- Many have wondered who "Dom" was. I have told them through the years to watch the movie so they can figure it out. It's a great movie and one of my favorites, but it is more difficult to find and people can't seem to find out on their own. Consequently, SPOILER ALERT! Dom....is a bottle of Dom Pérignon. As digital entertainment has evolved, it has become a bit easier. Here's your link. This movie is wonderful. www.amazon.com/Fandango-Kevin-Costner/dp/B00LFF8IGW
The "Contrabando" movie site. The background is real, and the buildings are too. But they were built for a movie set. Edit- I read an article that it was torn down in 2015.
We continued to wander down river and stopped at an old movie set, which several westerns were shot at. We poked around a bit there, Laurie got her stones for her collection of stones from around the world from the Rio Grande, and I used my film cameras to do a bit of photography. We met a couple from France in this area, and another couple from New Hampshire. When you're way out in the boonies like this and you both stop to look...you tend to talk to each other. They're fellow travelers like us........checking out the dirty edges and odd places.
The woman who keeps them gave them raisins as a treat, which they loved. She explained to us that this year was a heavily contested election, and that the 3 baby goats were all running for office this year, and that ballots were available in the general store and we were welcome to vote for mayor. They have a sense of humor out here for sure.
He also had a 70's cuda, and a bunch of street rods. It turns out the he owned the local bar, dance hall, hotel, and a bunch of other businesses in town and is involved in a lot of civic organizations. Nice guy....his name was Herman. Just another person we run into in our world travels. It's always cool to meet people and learn from them.
Tomorrow, Laurie is poking around at the Chinati Foundation (art stuff) and I plan on doing some film photography around here. Laurie has a bit to say and I'm posting it below.
Quote of the day, from the movie "Fandango", when they finally got through this epic quest and dug up Dom: Gardner: "Was it worth it?" Phillip: "Yeah. It was."
Note: In our opinion.....yeah. it was.
Song of the day....very appropriately..."The road and the sky"- Jackson Browne
West Texas at it's most typical
From Laurie: Well we have been on the road about 3 days now. The drive was not as bad as I thought it would be. Even though it was a little nerve wracking driving through the freezing fog, it was beautiful and transformed the trees into fairy lands.
So different from where we live where the sun has to clear the mountains before becoming visible. Here the horizon meets the sky everywhere I look. More like being on the ocean but without the tides. I can't imagine how brutal the summer would be since the sun is already very hot. And as soon as it goes down the heat leaves the land and it drops 20 degrees. Such an inhospitable land. You can see how the mountains are eroding and turning into scrub land. Where there is water there is life, though, and the Rio Grand river is the area's life line.
For example, they have a film festival, galleries and quite a few good and healthy places to eat, a wellness center and an international school. Then there are the Marfa lights that actually do exist. They are supposed to by mysterious lights out in the desert and what do you know, they are really there.
Then there are the sharp edges. My favorite was the sign in Big Bend park at a trail head that gave instructions, among other things, of what to do if one encountered a mountain lion or bear...Pick up small children. make yourself look big, and if attacked fight back.
Tomorrow I go for a tour of the Chinati foundation. Should be interesting.
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
Click on any of the boxes below to go to a specific day of our trip!