Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Friday, February 25, 2011

See Ya Big Bend & Fort Stockton

We're getting ready to leave West Texas so here's a few parting shots of Big Bend and Fort Stockton. Tomorrow we're heading north up into New Mexico to do some camping at a state park just north of Carlsbad Caverns. It's a desert park with a lake which doesn't exactly sound like it makes sense but we'll see and report back. The campsites there have electric and water hook-ups, which is a plus, but not sure about cell service so we may be off the communications grid again. Hate to leave West Texas in a way. It's really beautiful here and the people here have been right friendly.

All through Big Bend, there's spots where Mexican artisans have
crossed the river and left little trinkets with a message and a donation
jar. It's illegal to take or buy anything because it's considered illegal
international commerce. The rangers can confiscate the items and fine
you for possession of these items. Usually it's beads, walking sticks, or
cool little scorpions made out of twisted wire.

There's an access road off of the main park road that leads
to a hot spring. This building used to be the general store for
the hot springs area but it's abandoned now.

The hot springs are about a half mile hike from the parking area,
which features a sign saying "There are frequent break-ins on
unattended vehicles in this area".  Nice. So we went to the spring
but we didn't stay too long. This was the trail along the Rio Grande.
Just a dip in the 105 degree water. And then we hurried back to the van.

The spring wasn't large but it was hot and relaxing. 
Four would be a crowd. 

The road to the hot spring parking lot was narrow, bumpy, twisty, and 
treacherous. Just off the driver's side here is a sheer 30 foot drop
into a canyon.

The cactii here come in red and green. Here's some red ones.

The Chisos Mountains dominate the center of the park, rising
to 7800 feet. There's a campground up in the basin behind this range.

Here's Astral Wendy in the ultimate in desert hiking regalia: a bathing suit 
and Hello Kitty pajama bottoms. Actually this was just at an overlook we 
stopped at on the way back from the hot spring.

Hello Mr. Coyote.

Right at our campsite, a pair of golden fronted woodpeckers
were working on a new house. This is the female. The male has
a bright red patch on the top of his head.

Ready! Steady! Go!

The other bird ubiquitous to our campsite was the pyrrhuloxia which,
to us, is like a cardinal with a really cool color scheme. They dig hanging
out in mesquite thickets because their beaks are strong enough to
crack mesquite beans. In other news, mesquite has beans. I have no
idea why they gave this bird such a hard name to pronounce.

Here Astral Wendy explains to Otis the dangers of the coyote.

Here's a couple of shots of the Eurovan set up for camping.
Front seats swiveled around. Privacy curtain over front windows.
Kettle on the stove.

Pop-top up, screens open. The bed is folded in the day position:
the rear bench seat slides forward and lays flat. We slide back the
 forward part of the upper bunk and use the rear part for shelf space.

Cow alert! These guys are on the Mexican side of the river.

It was not unusual to find small shells even on high plateaus. You
know what that means.

The variety of rock colors down by the river was amazing.

Don't cross that river Astral Wendy!

We dig the gravity chairs.

Noted bird photographer Astral Wendy.

The definition of happy camper.

Alfredo's Mexican restaurant in Fort Stockton.

After being in the wilderness for 5 days, we enjoy chilling poolside
so we can wash the stink off and do our blog posts. This hotel is
mostly used by travelers passing through so during the day it's
usually occupied by me, Astral Wendy, and the desk clerk. We have
the pool and the jacuzzi to ourselves all morning so it's nice
to swim some laps and relax.

Today's our last day in Fort Stockton and, when we were riding around looking for a place to grab lunch, we found the fort that gives the town its name. The 7th and 9th U.S. Calvary was stationed here back in the day when they were still fighting against the native Comanches. These two units were comprised of Buffalo Soldiers, which were freed black slaves commanded by white officers and immortalized by Bob Marley. The name Buffalo Soldiers was given to these men by the Comanches because of their hair and because of their noble bravery.

Buffalo Soldier, Dreadlock Rasta
There was a Buffalo Soldier
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival*

First thing they built at the fort was the jail.

This wagon was used in two John Wayne westerns.

Jail + Church = Civilization

*Buffalo Soldiers, Bob Marley and the Wailers


  1. I love outdoor hot springs! Once we went to one in the Rockies in British Columbia and had to drive up this very scary logging road to get to it. Such roads must be traditional for outdoor hot springs, judging from your similar experience!

  2. It was an adventure getting there Debra... very narrow and twisty and the road overlooking steep drops into low valleys... more suited for donkeys than vehicles. But the spring was magical and full of magnesium which is a natural muscle relaxer!

  3. awesome history at that tiny fort.

  4. Your Reddit son slackjackal sent me here to look at your blog. Glad I did — what you're doing is great! Smart move! Have fun and here's wishing you safe and happy exploring.

  5. If you make it up to Northern New Mexico, try the San Antonio hot springs. The whole Jemez Mountain area is covered in geothermal vents.

    email me if you make it out and I'll bring the beer.

    John Cortesy

  6. Wow! These pictures are all really amazing, you guys are so lucky to be doing this!

  7. Nice! P.S. Never go to Reddit, it's full of viruses.

  8. Wonderful pictures. Have fun on your adventures, and keep up the good blogging work!

  9. What camera are you guys using for the pictures?

  10. Your blog is awesome. Your life is awesome. WAY jealous! Godspeed on all of your travels! <3

  11. Looks pretty fun! Its always interesting to see different parts of the world.

  12. I am especially loving your bird photos. The GF Woodpecker is gorgeous! Groovy blog, groovy music, groovy people. What. It. Is.

  13. Awesome pictures! Keep on keepin on!

  14. Howdy- I really enjoy your photos and getting a glimpse into this adventurous chapter of life. If you end up traveling west past El Paso make sure to stop at Hueco Tanks State Park. The rock formations, scenery and pictographs are well worth the visit.


  16. found this on reddit.
    this is really awesome
    keep it up!

    greetings from sweden :)

  17. I'm a college student from San Antonio who saw your blog on reddit. I really enjoyed seeing and reading about your adventures in Texas. You guys are awesome, I want to grow up to be just like you.

  18. So many anonymouses (or is that anonymii?) Thanks for the peeks. Reddit is awesome! Usually we get 40-60 views, mostly friends and family. Yesterday we got 20,000. Ha! Thanks for all the tips and good vibes. I am doing a little AMA in the comment section on Reddit. The one question I saw here was camera type. Astral Wendy mostly uses a Canon G10 and sometimes a Canon EOS rebel.