After a few days of spending too much time at the border, we were ready for some tourist attractions. This area does not disappoint!
We used iOverlander www.ioverlander.com (great app for finding camping and other resources while on the road) to locate Pancho Villa State Park. This is the location of a battle that never happened between the US military and the Pancho Villistas. The park offers ramadas, picnic tables, clean bathrooms and hot showers for just $10 per night. And a visit to the museum is included in the camping fee! Of note on the park grounds is the first grease rack installed by the Army at this location. (Tongue in cheek humor here- look closely at the photos) and some other, old military items. Pancho Villa clearly left his mark on the town of Columbus, New Mexico and they are still working it for all it’s worth!
While we were near the border, we decided to walk across. Yes, we cannot get enough quality time with the US Border Patrol. Plus we wanted some antibiotics and tacos! It was a simple crossing, using our passport cards, at the Palomas border check point. Then we were on the highway towards the mountains.
We spent many hours on small side roads and byways as we headed for Guadalupe National Park for the night. This was another bargain of a campground and a great location for backcountry hiking and camping. But we were headed for Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We had time to explore one part of the cavern, so we chose to walk down, down, down through the natural entrance. The walk took us a little over an hour and was quite enjoyable.
The nice ranger at the counter seemed to know we were not inquiring about a typical campsite or RV park, as he told us about nearby BLM land where we could find a camping spot. The spot we selected was secluded, windy and beautiful. Although the natural gas burn-offs that dotted the horizon were a bit spooky through the night.
The next morning we toured Carlsbad Caverns again. The admission fee covers three days! And then stopped at the restaurant in White’s City for a meal. There we encountered the rudest, most awful batch of customer service ever! And the food was pretty bad, too. But we enjoyed the caverns and felt glad that we had stopped at this National Park. Did you know there are only 58 National Parks. We only have 56 more to see on this trip!
So it’s on to Marfa, Texas for an overnight at the Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Area. This is actually a fancy, roadside rest area with restrooms and some basic info on the phenomenon. The state of Texas allows overnight parking at the rest areas, so we found a flat spot and set up camp. We played some backgammon and watched for the lights out the windows.
Throughout the night Geneva woke up and looked outside to compare the lights on the horizon. Sure enough, there were varying brightness of lights in different locations. At 2:00AM there was one that seemed bright enough to be a strobe or spotlight in a direction where nothing exists. Truly a mystery, look it up!
After a breakfast stop in Marfa. And a romp with the dogs at the Marfa Shorthorns high school football field. (yes they are really called the Shorthorns, I can just imagine the cheers and chants from the other team!) and a photo op in front of a beautiful and ornate government building in Marfa we were pretty much finished with this interestingly odd little Texas town.
The hour long drive led to the quirky city of Terlingua, which is the gateway to Big Bend National Park. It is warm, sunny and dusty here. We found a great camping spot at BJs RV Park and will stay the night. Then tomorrow we will drive into Big Bend and poke around for a few days. We are hoping for hikes, hot springs and more great weather.