New Mexico / Texas: Day 9 – Roswell, NM > Big Bend National Park, TX

///New Mexico / Texas: Day 9 – Roswell, NM > Big Bend National Park, TX

New Mexico / Texas: Day 9 – Roswell, NM > Big Bend National Park, TX

I had one last look around Roswell and filled up on fuel before continuing the journey with one of the longest drives so far. Walmart was the wrong direction but I needed to top up on water and knew how remote I was driving today. On the way back through Roswell I saw a homeless girl with a dog sat in the street so I pulled over and gave her half my crate of water. It was worth it just to see the smile on her face.

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BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TEXAS

The drive from Rowell took me nearly 7 hours to reach Big Bend. It took me through mile after mile of acrid smelling oil fields on the New Mexico / Texan border. I’d set off a couple of hours later than planned and was aiming to reach Santa Elena Canyon an hour before sunset. From there, my hotel was a 2 hour drive back through the park.

Big Bend National Park is one of the most remote areas of Texas. I knew there was going to be no mobile signal for the final 2 hours of the drive after I’d passed through Alpine, and I also knew the canyon was a 200 mile round trip from Alpine. I stopped at a petrol station in Alpine to fill up with fuel.

For once in my life I was sensible. I headed to the hotel in Alpine that I had booked for the night and introduced myself to the guy on reception. He was generously proportioned with long curly hair. I explained that I was heading deep into Big Bend National Park and if I wasn’t back to check in by 20h00, then send out a search. He said he would and wished me a safe drive.

Just outside Alpine, and still 90 miles from Santa Elena and the Mexican border, I passed a Border Checkpoint. I stopped the car and the border agent asked for my passport. He rapid fired lots of questions at me, “Was I a US citizen?”, “What date did I arrive”, “What date do I leave?” etc. I answered all without stuttering and surprised myself. I then told him it was my turn for a question. “Sure.” he said.

“Why is there a Border Checkpoint and passport control, 90 miles from the Mexican border?” I asked. The border agent paused for an uncomfortable 5 seconds.

He then replied, “You know… that’s a great question. I’ve not really thought about it before and I’ve no idea.” He waved me through, presumably to avoid another difficult question.

I drove through the most stunning landscapes for 90 miles. Eventually, over the brow of a hill, I reached a kiosk. I expected to pay to enter the National Park, American parks are usually around $5. I stopped at the kiosk. “You’ve only got an hour before sunset, that’ll be $25 (about £19)”.

My jaw dropped. I explained that there was only myself and I only had a few minutes at the canyon. He wouldn’t give in; if I had a full day I would have paid the extortionate fee, but having just a few minutes it wasn’t worth it.

I had a leisurely drive back north stopping to take photos regularly. An hour after sunset it was totally pitch black. I stopped at the side of the road to take a shot of the milky way and stayed about half an hour as my eyes got accustomed to the darkness. The milky way was a little too high in the sky so after taking a couple of shots I packed up my equipment and started to move on.

I’d only just got up to speed a hundred metres on from where I’d been taking photos when a large animal walked out crossing the road. I swerved to avoid it and reduced my speed from 90mph to 60mph.

At the border control point I described the animal to him. He listened to my description and immediately said I’d seen a Javelina. He explained that this looked like a pig but was actually from the hippo family. They had 2 short tusks and although not normally aggressive, they would attack if frightened. I couldn’t believed I’d been wandering round outside taking star photos just before I saw it!

ALPINE, TEXAS

I got back to the mountain town of Alpine, and checked into my hotel. The big guy on the reception asked who I was and if I had a reservation. I asked if he remembered me, I came in earlier to say I was heading out to the canyon and to call a search party if I wasn’t back. You could hear the cogs grinding and his face strained to think. “Nope” he said. Trust me to alert a forgetful receptionist, I dread to think what would have happened if I’d been attacked by a javelina!

2017-11-20T08:10:17+00:00

4 Comments

  1. Pablo Verity 20th November 2017 at 09:19 - Reply

    Cracking pictures, mate.

    • chris0241 22nd November 2017 at 18:27 - Reply

      Cheers Pete 🙂

  2. Jules 20th November 2017 at 19:39 - Reply

    Pictures are amazing!! Safe travels my friend ….

    • chris0241 22nd November 2017 at 18:26 - Reply

      Thanks so much Julie! Cx

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