Today is Wednesday, February 27 – the first of 3 days off for me. The first time I remember the wind waking me early this morning was 3:40. In the face of so much ongoing West Texas wind, I laugh at how serious I was about disseminating “Red Flag” warnings to the campers the first week I was here! The winds have been so high just about every other day here that when it happens it is just another day in Big Bend! The strange thing about these winds are the times of day they come up. In Illinois we could usually always count on the winds popping up during sunlight hours and dying down as the sun set. Down here it does not matter what time of day it is when they start and they pick up significantly as the sun goes down! So much for theories of solar heat stimulating the atmosphere here!
Big Bend campers are more experienced than other campers, too. They usually have planned and researched their trip here and/or have been coming here for many, many years. Therefore the winds are no surprise to them. Most have been fleeing winter weather their whole way here and hope to escape the northern blizzards and are very tolerant of any wind or subfreezing mornings that Big Bend throws at them. The few that are new to the winds are cute – wide-eyed and questioning when it is going to “warm up down here”.
Some of the “regulars” include big groups that have been coming here for years. The 120 eighth graders plus their 40-50 adult leaders currently at the group campgrounds as well as a group of 40 retired Ft. Worth firefighters. Believe it or not the eighth graders actually quiet down right at the beginning of quiet hours (10:00 p.m.)! And the firefighters quiet down on time, too! Not sure if it is a little too much alcohol consumption or weariness from the light hiking.
My favorite time of day to make a round of the campground is dinner time. The air is heavenly with the luscious aromas of grilled onions, steaks, hot dogs, sausage, potatoes, and (in the case of the firefighters) seafood gumbo! I think I am okay with my diet as long as I do not inhale too deeply!
Yesterday and today were fire fighting training days for park personnel and the Terlingua fire department. The photos below show a small portion of the 50+ tents at the eighth grade encampment as well as some of my friends at fire training in the Rio Grande Visitor Center parking lot:
Mike and Nancy (back country volunteers) and Matt (Law Enforcement) – all looking officious!
Joy and Earl from Las Cruces (fellow first-year volunteers who staff the RGV visitor center)
Jaclynn observing and enjoying a day off work.
Next up, the already incinerated hunk of car being burned yet again!
Matt, Alyssa (Law Enforcement) and Earl (back to camera this time). Matt and Alyssa are the BEST ever officers and take care of our side of the park including the Rio Grande Village campground.
Today, Zuni and I rode to Panther Junction to get the mail and the vats of moisturizing cream and stuff I had ordered off Amazon. We visited Daisy (a volunteer who recently had some surgery), cooked a meal for tomorrow and then I went for a little hike in the area surrounding the campground. Shown below are some Mexican cows, a view up-river, the town of Boquillas nestled beneath the Sierra Del Carmen mountains, and some flowers including the last two shots of the . . . come on, we know this one! That’s right – Big Bend Bluebonnet!
As I close, I want to mention a couple of interesting books. I just finished reading “Death In Big Bend: Real Stories of Death and Rescue in Big Bend National Park” – a little dry and hard to read, but it clearly shows how one needs to respect the wildness and unforgiving Mother Nature here. Also intriguing and informative is “The Big Bend of the Rio Grande: A Guide to the Rocks, Landscape, Geological History, and Settlers of Big Bend National Park” by Ross Maxwell, Big Bend’s first superintendent and geologist, who served from 1944 through 1952. (No, I am not real smart – I just know how to Google!) Good night all!