Day 6: Big Bend > Balmorhea > Austin > College Station > Houston
Mileage: A lot.
Time: The # of hours I drove exceeded the # of hours I slept.
This is wayyy overdue. I wouldn’t post about the last day because our trip was cut short, but I had some post-camp thoughts that I wrote down.
The night in Big Bend was one for the books in an…unforgettable way. To say that it was windy would be an understatement. One of the tent poles broke. Luckily, it didn’t completely break, but when we broke down our campsite, we discovered that loud snap in the midst of our anxiety party. It got to the point where Hannah and I were both delusional, laughing and freaking out at everything. The next morning Hannah told me her vivid dreams about us getting swept away, eaten by black bears, and making newspaper headlines.
Here is a picture of our tent that I took while feeling very delusional.
The next morning, we were serenaded by our classical guitarist while we sipped our coffee and ate our breakfast. Our next destination? As far away from Big Bend as possible. I think if our tent wasn’t so close to collapsing, I would be okay with staying a little longer. Since that wasn’t the case, we were headed to Balmorhea.
Here’s a huge PROTip: Don’t go to Balmorhea on a weekend. Ever. Unless you go really, really early. When we arrived, it was around noon-time? There was a 20-car line to get inside. I’m not sure how big the pool actually is because we gave up and headed to Austin. Bless you Austin and P. Terry- that’s where I headed first. Blah blah blah I miss Austin a lot, what else is new?
The loveliest sight after 100 hours of driving.
- I miss it already and a lot.
- Never take showers for granted.
- Early bedtimes are alright at camp. We slept at 8 or 9 PM every day.
- The first night after camp- I slept like a rock. It was amazing.
- Buy pull-tab cans or bring a can opener next time.
Destination: Marfa, then Big Bend
Mileage: ~98 miles
Time: ~2 hours
Temperature: 60/95F (Low/High)
*Prepare for wind. This is not an understatement.*
How could I possibly describe Marfa and Big Bend together? They were two completely contrast places. One had electrical outlets and Wi-Fi at the palm of your hand, the other had Mexican Black Bears and mountain lions. Well, I guess I can start off with the morning in Marfa.
Morning in Marfa means…
- Free coffee in the lobby of El Cosmico, stock up your body.
- Electrical outlets and Wi-Fi. So, Instagram and charge all of your shit.
- Taking a shower. Maybe do this first before coffee or whatever, it’s your life.
- Packing up and timing yourself. We started timing ourselves breaking down and setting up our tent to see our progress. Camping makes you do crazy things like time yourself setting up a tent. It took us 10 minutes to break down on this day.
- Having breakfast at Squeeze Marfa. Every out-of-towner will be there as well.
- Going to the Chinati Foundation. If you have the time, do the tour because without the tour…you don’t get to see much. My favorite was the camera obscura though, it was at the Marfa Ice Plant. The installation was called 100 North Nevill Street. It was REALLY COOL. Art can be cool.
Making Hannah break rules in Marfa, TX for the sake of (my) art
Glamp Curry, The Window, & Shiner Ruby Red
Afternoon in Big Bend means…
- Paying an entrance fee at the front of the entrance and driving to Chisos Basin Campground and paying a campsite fee.
- Discovering that your neighbor is a classical guitarist.
- Finding another Prius, finally!!! And of course he brought his bike.
- Chatting with Reggie, our National Park ranger, who definitely told us to take out our camera phone if we saw a bear. My homie.
- Cooking curry for dinner because that’s glamp.
- Hiking the Non-GMO Window Trail to “The Window” and guessing how far the drop-off could be. PRO Tip: It took us less than 2 hours and we suggest going at around 6:30pm if you don’t want the sun to hit you.
- PRO PRO Tip: Have a cold beer and/or chocolate waiting for you back at your campsite. After a hike, it’s the best reward.
- Preparing (but not enough) for a night in Big Bend Chisos Basin Campground.
Destination: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Mileage: ~145 miles
Time: ~3 hours
Temperature: 60/99F (Low/High)
*Stopped in Pecos for water/gas/Walmart
Here’s a disclaimer: I’ve been writing these out of order, so there isn’t that much consistency. Yay me!
I’ve been thinking about it, and I think maybe Guadalupe Mountains National Park was my favorite place on this trip. It was really beautiful, especially the morning. I saw a snake on my way to the bathroom, which wasn’t so beautiful but at least he was chill. I had a great sleep that night, and the view in the morning was the best. I don’t know, every place was different but I definitely want to come back here.
Look. At. This. View.
Sidebar: Pecos is kind of the worst, BUT they have Walmart and it’s the closest city (in Texas) that has things you may need. They also have Dairy Queen, but obviously nothing matches Whataburger.
Some Tidbits and PROTips for Guadalupe Mtns. National Park:
- El Capitan looks awesome. I want to come back and hike the full trail, we only did maybe a third of it?
- The campgrounds are pretty posh. Numbered and each place has their own area. Tent site #14 was our’s and it was the best spot. There aren’t any showers though so…
- Check your bathroom amenities. So on the note of bathrooms, check them! Meaning…check if they have showers, we didn’t know and we walked back and forth to each restroom to find out that we didn’t have showers.
- There are big black raven/hawk-like looking birds. Just saying.
- Smith Spring Trail is totally worth it!! There is a spring despite how bleak and dry it looks!!
- If no one has told you, they should have: keep your food in your car. Let’s not attract bears to the campsite, capiche?
Smith Spring Trail
Destination: Monahans Sandhill State Park
Mileage: ~484 miles
Time: ~7 hours
Temperature: 70/102F (Low/High)
Every day, I [tried to] keep a journal entry about the trip. Some entries have drawings, some do not. All of them have random notes that may not even make sense to me as I look back at it. I just thought I would share it with you guys. A window into my thought process, what I wanted to remember, and what I needed to get done the next day.
The drive wasn’t bad, but it was hot, sandy, and miserable the first day. We woke up feeling sandier than the night before.
“Going poop in a place you don’t know sucks.” -That’s right, I said it (it’s in my notebook so I thought I would address it). I know everyone else is thinking it because it just is!
There were no shower curtains, but at least no one else was at the park.
On the note of showers: never take advantage of showers. Wow, feeling clean can change your mood instantly.
Arturo was the best state park ranger we came to encounter on our trip. He was knowledgeable, let us borrow sand disks fo’ free, and was an all around cool dude. A true wilderness explorer.
PRO Tips for Monahans Sandhill State Park:
- Rent sand disks, they are worth it. Ask about wax too because wax = speedy speed sand disks. This is my #1 PRO tip. It’s so much fun.
- Anchor your tent. Apparently there are sandbags around the park to help you anchor your tent- we didn’t see any…but maybe State Park Ranger Michael was lying to us. ANYWAY, make sure it’s anchored before it blows away like our’s did the first time.
- Bag your phone. If you take it with you up the dunes. You don’t want fine sand in your phone because that could mess it up…right?
- Wear sunblock. It’s sunny. The fine sand are like prisms that “can burn your butt if you don’t cover it with sunblock.” Arturo’s words, not mine.